I finally saw “Looper” this weekend and I thought it was awesome. Tight, imaginative exciting, plausible. All the best elements of sci-fi and even some great moments of humor. Joseph Gordon Levitt did a great Bruce Willis impression too.
What’s interesting is that Rian Johnson who wrote and directed the movie consulted with the guy who made a feature and cult classic called “Primer” when writing about the time travel aspects of the movie. Primer is an incredible example of how imagination and story trumps big budgets.
“Primer” was made in 2004 by Shane Carruth. The movie has very low production value and is mostly dialog, but what is being said is fascinating. (Note: he also knows how to shoot, there are plenty of movie shots and a great structure. Oh yeah, and the movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival).
Carruth was a math major and former engineer, and the movie is about a group of geeks who invent time travel. What’s interesting about Primer is that it isn’t like most movies that gloss over time travel with an easy explanation. (There’s no “flux capacitor” here, god love it). Instead the movie gets into the real physics and impact of time travel.
There’s also plenty of deceit and intrigue. The guys who invent the machine all start double crossing each other and so on. But what’s really fascinating is imagining the real world implications of going through time, including something most time travel movies never address: the physical and mental toll on the human body and mind from time travel. And the entire process of avoiding your double… it gets pretty interesting… and complicated…
What’s even cooler, from an aspiring filmmaker point of view, is that Primer was made for $7000. Yes, seven grand. Much less than the cost of a student film at a major film school… and probably within the budget of most people reading this article. That’s pretty awesome.
So before you lament the fact that you need a ton of money to make a movie, instead reach into your own experience and think of a great story. Watch “Primer” for inspiration, you’ll be amazed that something shot for so little could be so interesting for 2+ hours. Here is the a preview:
And once you are ready to start shooting your own movie faster and smarter than film school make sure to check out Film School Secrets.