Primer is a 2004 science fiction film that was written, directed, produced, edited & scored by Shane Carruth and released independently by his company, erbp. It stars Carruth and David Sullivan as Aaron & Abe, two founders of a tech startup who inadvertently invent a time machine. The film was produced on a budget of only $7000 and was filmed on weekends with Carruth also handling the casting, production design and sound design, Sullivan doubling as production assistant, supporting actor Anand Upadhyaya serving as one of the camera operators and Carruth's parents, Chip & Kathy Carruth, doing the catering. For this reason, the film contains almost no special effects.
In addition to its minimal budget, Primer is also notable for its extremely complicated plot, which I've often referred to as a complex mathematical equation masquerading as a film. Initially, Aaron & Abe set out to build a device that can lower the mass of an object, making it easier to ship. However, after a series of adjustments and tweaks to the device, Abe realizes that they've created something far more interesting. He sets out to convince Aaron that they have, in fact, invented a time machine and the two experiment with their new invention by exploiting the stock market. Eventually, Aaron becomes bored with their careful, regimented testing procedure and decides to try some more adventurous tests, but after an incident involving a forgotten cell phone and a case of what could be called mistaken identity, it becomes clear to them that it may already be too late. This leads to a reveal that completely alters the story and requires multiple viewings to completely understand. Carruth has said "The average viewer may only understand about 70 percent of it on the first viewing." and if you google 'Primer timeline' you'll even find multiple articles and charts explaining the events of the film. Of course, I wouldn't recommend doing this until after you've watched it. I've seen it seven times so far and am only just beginning to wrap my head around it, but that sheer complexity and originality, along with the resourcefulness that it took to produce it on such a minuscule budget make Primer a modern, science fiction masterpiece.
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