Shane Carruth Best Quotes

Shane Carruth is an American film writer, director, and actor. He is the writer, director, and co-star of the prize-winning science-fiction film Primer. His second film, Upstream Color, was released in 2013. Enjoy Shane Carruth’s best quotes below.

Shane Carruth
“I believe that filmmakers have to internalize the story and subtext so well that all of the departments can start to speak to each other – that music can speak to cinematography can speak to writing and back again.”
“I find ‘Fatal Attraction’ really romantic. I really like the seduction. Almost every time I see it, I’m surprised when it goes dark. I know that’s the claim to fame, but I key into how genuinely romantic it is.”
“I’ve always been anxious about ‘Primer.’ There’s good things about it, but all I’ve seen for a long time is the flaws.”
“From a completely financial standpoint, digital is starting to crack as far as an independent filmmaker’s access to getting your story out there – Amazon, iTunes, all of those. It makes the prospect of doing it yourself – not easy by any means – but possible, maybe for the first time.”
“I am obsessed with story. I had a late awakening in life. In college was the first time that I understood what you could do with a story and what a good novel is – literary value and subtext and irony and everything.”
“I think I’ll always want to write and direct. I’m interested in producing and helping other people tell stories. But I’m still in love with writing and directing.”
“I’m only interested in science fiction that’s used as a literary device, a shortcut into something more exploratory or universal about our experience. That’s why I think it was invented and why mythology was invented; it’s a tool, not an end to itself.”
“‘Upstream Color’ in particular, it’s got to infect culture at some level in order to have a life of its own. Then it’ll be judged, and it’ll either live or it won’t by its own merit, and history will decide whether it’s relevant however long into the future. I think that’s more than enough to hope for.”
“When something is beautiful in math, everything is just perfectly lined up, and you see through sheer thought that something really beautiful can take place.”
“All I know is that as an audience member, I am less and less inclined to go to the theater.”
“I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson or speak a factual truth.”
“Probably the TV show I’ve watched the most is ‘How It’s Made’ on the History Channel. I could watch 24 hours of ‘How It’s Made’ and never get bored.”
“Film is a collaborative process, absolutely, but I am a control freak.”
“Filmmaking is a thousand choices a day, and it’s important to just let those choices potentially be informed by something deeper.”
“I came to filmmaking because it’s my passion. I decided I can’t have it distorted or marred by someone else deciding what it should be.”
“I don’t read books on how to write screenplays just because I’m stubborn. So it’s all sort of made up.”
“I don’t spend a lot of time in nature. Probably less than most people that live in urban Texas.”
“I got a degree in math, from not a good school in Texas, and then I went to work as a software engineer. Just not glamorous at all.”
“I never got into ‘MacGyver,’ but ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘The Conversation’ were big for me.”
“I will be making films, and I’m going to keep working, no matter what I have to do. And I don’t plan to ever ask for permission from anybody.”
“My favorite films are the ones that I walk away from and I know I saw a story.”
“Any film that exists that is thorough, you can’t give it to an audience of one and have that be effective communication. Communication involves an audience of many that have a conversation, put it through the ringer, filter it and then a sense of it coalesces.”
“All I know is that as an audience member, I am less and less inclined to go to the theater. But that has to do with content and also because the venues seem to be actively trying to repel people.”
“As a viewer, that’s work I respond to – work that I know is singular in some way. If I’m being challenged by something on screen, if I don’t quite know why it’s happening, I want to know I can do the work of pulling it apart and that there’ll be something satisfactory about it. If the architecture is sound, you can be lyrical in execution.”
“Going to grocery stores is almost my favorite thing to do to calm myself down. There’s something about just walking aisle after aisle making mundane choices. ‘Do I want that? No, I want the one that has the low sodium.’ And that feels like a good exercise to be doing when there isn’t anything to be doing. It’s like a kick-starter in some way.”
“I can honestly say, there was a moment when I was writing ‘Upstream Color’ where I fell so hard for what it was becoming that I couldn’t think of anything else. I was absolutely secure in this story in the way I’m rarely secure about anything else in my life.”
“I don’t typically have a social life, I don’t have a family, and I will stay up all night, every night, for days on end, to solve something that I think is solvable. And it’s very frustrating sometimes, because I know that I’m like that, and it’s not always a positive result.”
“I don’t want to be thought of as somebody who’s spiritually ambiguous, but the reality is there’s unknown things happening. I’m not ready to point at what they are or what the reason is, but I know they exist.”
“I feel like math and writing are the same thing. You’re putting together a lot of complex things to satisfy different requirements. It’s got to be aesthetically pleasing; it’s got to have subtext; it’s got to convey information.”
“I feel like we want to compartmentalise things and say, ‘Well, that’s emotional, artistic and subjective, while this is intellectual, objective and measured.’ I have difficulty thinking that’s the way we experience things.”
“I had a really generic upbringing, I think, when it comes to viewing movies as a kid. I didn’t really know what was out there or what was being tried. I was, like, ‘E.T.’ and ‘Indiana Jones.’ Those were the only things I knew existed.”
“I hate even the idea of a synopsis. When stories are really working, when you’re providing subtextual exploration and things that are deeply layered, you’re obligated to not say things out loud.”
“I have a really, really hard time sitting down and watching a TV show, except I’m apparently willing to watch the same episode of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ like, seven times.”
“I love the concept of the romance that exists when people are broken. Like, the promise of a romance when you’re at the bottom. I think that’s infinitely compelling and romantic.”
“I love to work. It’s the idea of having someone else tell you how to make your film or how to sell it – that’s the part I can’t really deal with. I would rather do 1,000 things that are work than deal with one thing that’s a political problem.”
“I never set out to make a movie that was everything to everybody; if that were the case, we could all just take a picture of a tree and agree that the tree is beautiful and move on with our lives. I wouldn’t even need to show up.”
“I stole a ton of film language from Steven Soderbergh and ‘The Limey.’ It’s the definition of elliptical. It was the first movie I remember that introduced me to storytelling that isn’t just one scene after another, and that things can be mixed up in the way that real experiences can.”
“I’m constantly surprised by… an orange will roll off a table, and I’ll catch it before I knew it was falling. Something happens there. We could write it off and say, ‘Subconsciously I knew that was happening,’ but there’s so many things every day – I’m amazed by how little we know.”
“I’m interested in making something that moves quickly, that hopefully is compelling minute-by-minute but really packed densely with exploration. I’m very interested in how re-visitable we can make films. If we can get them closer to a music album, then it’s not such an arduous process to revisit, and exploration can be a bit more cryptic.”
“I’ve heard stories about movies that are really maybe difficult and really dramatic and good, but they are being sold as romantic comedies. All it’s going to do is just… that’s hurting the work, because that just makes it impossible for anyone to see it correctly.”
“In school, when I got into upper-level math, there would be times when I would wake up from a dream and have – not an answer, exactly, but a direction to pursue. My writing has always been like that. I wake up from dreams knowing which direction to go in.”
“It’s a risk, but I’m sort of ready to let go of thinking of movies as books that you can watch. The notion of, ‘If I put the narrative blocks in the right order, this will solve all of my storytelling problems.’ No, it won’t, and you end up with little more than books on film.”
“It’s interesting because I don’t ever want to ask a better question than I can answer, if that makes sense. I find that frustrating as a viewer. Compelling questions, while not easy, are easier than compelling answers.”
“Many of my favorite films, if someone were to tell me simply what they’re about, I probably wouldn’t be that interested. Plot often has so little to do with what’s at the heart of a film.”
“My job as an author – at least the way I think of it – is to make a story that is coded and puzzling enough to entice conversation and interpretation, but also to do the opposite: to make some things clear so that it is meaningful in some way, not just a random assemblage of ideas.”
“‘Pierrot le Fou’ is something I keep coming back to. It’s so surreal but still really engaging – it proves narratives within narratives are a landscape that can be pursued well.”
“Probably the TV show I’ve watched the most is ‘How It’s Made’ on the History Channel. I could watch 24 hours of ‘How It’s Made’ and never get bored. Or ‘Dirty Jobs’ – that’s even better!”
“‘The Master,’ it was really important to me to go see that in the theater, but that’s a very rare occurrence for me. I typically enjoy things on my laptop. I’m in bed; I can be able to pause them.”
“The only thing I can ever do is make a film that I can respond to. I could not make a romantic comedy for college girls. I wouldn’t know how that works.”
“There is commerciality in storytelling, even in a film or a piece of literature. These things exist. That’s why stories came to be: to hold attention and, while you’re not looking, you’ll get hopefully some nutritional value that the author has been working up. That’s narrative; that’s passing stuff down.”
“Whether you are liberal or conservative, people seem to know the talking points for whatever the issue of the day is. Very rarely does it seem like these are opinions that people are coming up with themselves; it’s like they watched the right cable news channel, and now they know what they are supposed to think, and they repeat that.”

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