Let me start by saying my colleague Sally Clark recently called me out for being a – what’s the word? – oh, “namedropper” when it comes to my blog. Bearing that in mind…
Last week, I was at a hotel bar in Austin having a drink with Primer director Shane Carruth, his girlfriend Tara, and two friends of his from San Antonio when he offered a humorous anecdote: Coming out of Sundance with a razor-thin $7000 production budget, cynics would hear about his financing and then say something to the effect of, “Well, Tarnation only cost $300.” It’s funny, because both figures are incredibly low but both films are staggering examples of films with weight and depth.
Meanwhile, both films are opening in New York theaters this week. Plus, both works are from Texas filmmakers (Shane from Dallas, Tarnation‘s Jonathan Caouette from Houston). Not to mention, both Shane and Jonathan are sweet and intelligent artists. The parallels don’t end there. Primer is a fictional feature that utilizes documentary styles and atmospheres. Tarnation is a documentary feature that makes the best of some dramatic elements and narrative threads. It would be fair to describe both as “experimental.”
So sue me. I’m a programmer. It’s my job to find the film and find the hook. And the biggest hook of all? These are both wonderfully impressive debut features from two men that have careers to keep an eye on. They may have used tiny production budgets, but both films deserve to earn $200 million at the box office. Hey, it could happen… what are you waiting for? Go buy your tickets to this coincidentally Texas double feature.