Shane Carruth Details His New Movie 'The Modern Ocean'

For his third feature, the writer/director is going big.

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Secretive writer/director Shane Carruth has only made two feature films in his already storied career, but what a pair they are. After bursting onto the scene in 2004 with the cerebral, DIY mindbender Primer, which came as close as humanly possible to explaining how a real time machine might work, he disappeared for ten years before dropping Upstream Color. The latter was a psychological thriller involving a relationship, a group of pigs, mind-controlling worms, Henry David Thoreau, and the unexplained conspiracy that tied them all together — so you know he’s not screwing around. Now, Carruth has spilled the beans on what will likely be his next cult classic, The Modern Ocean.

Long story short, Carruth is going big. The movie will have a cast of around 30 characters and will take place on ships that criss-cross international shipping lanes. Carruth told Motherboard that “The ocean is a place where I can set a story on a world stage. The ocean is not policed in any kind of perfect way. And a lot of things happen out there that, you know, it’s sort of every man for himself or every group of men for themselves.” The ensemble’s different political affiliations then progress the story into “a big action film, essentially, but the reasons why it does are the reasons the story exists.”

The movie is currently in pre-production, but in typical Carruth fashion it sounds absolutely insane and like something only he could pull off.

International politics? Big action set-pieces? We’re not really sure how Carruth plans on tying it all together, or making it any different than, say, Captain Phillips, but he makes it seem completely doable.

“The skirmishes escalate into full-scale naval battles using these improvised weapons on these cargo ships,” he said. “I like telling stories that are universal, that aren’t about a certain culture or about a certain country or state or even way of thinking. I want a story where the characters are motivated by things that everyone would find within themselves.”

We like the large-scale craziness that Carruth is planning here, but just how he’ll wrangle together enough of a budget to make “a big action film” escapes us. But then again, this is the guy who made Primer for $7,000, creating a modern classic by using his imagination instead of handing out producer credits. This guy is not to be trifled with.

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