Primer - Theme Infusion

Writing a screenplay is like making tea, you sprinkle the leaves into hot water and let the ideas spread and intermingle to create a blended gestalt. Tea is very delicate and sensitive to contamination by odours that surround it. Great care must be taken to transport it pure to destination. The grand complex of a screenplay is similarly open to contamination.

Shane Carruth, creator of the Indie movie Primer, spent a year working on the screenplay for Primer. A year spent working out how to create a profitable venture out of tiny resources. A year spent struggling with the motivations and aims of his character. A year spent writing and reworking every detail of his screenplay. In this time he learnt the art of the writer, and also of the director – while developing a compassion for his characters in the form of the gift of authentic life.

While the overt theme in Primer is time travel, the subdued theme of the art of the movie maker, the minute drama of creating such a complex construction with ones friends in the face of minuscule resources, is infused throughout the script.

One could imagine Carruth to be a subtle magician, hiding his true theme to preserve mystery – but the more likely case would see his imagination led inexorably towards the objects he held closely to attention while he wrote his script even in an unconscious mode of understanding.

The only clue to the conscious theme is in the title “Primer”, the film – so clearly portrayed without the conceits of a multi-million dollar budget lays bare the fundamentals of movie making, and offers the tantalising bait that is was constructed for but $7000. If one were to use the film as a primer, an instruction manual, what should one learn? Apart from wonderful character and camera work – one would also find that the true beauty of a film is in the revealed passion of the creator for a simple idea thought through incredibly deeply.

This has implications for Indie Games too… but I will save those until I have more proof.