We sometimes describe films like 10 Cloverfield Lane as being low-budget — but a real low-budget classic is more like the time-travel movie Primer, which was made for a shockingly tiny $7,000. In a new interview, star David Sullivan talked about how insanely shoestring this production was.
Sullivan talked to Forbes, promoting his new Netflix series Flaked, and he recalled the process of filming Primer:
Primer was made for $7 thousand. That was just five of us running around with the camera in Dallas, Texas. I’m really fortunate as an actor because that was my first role and we got this opportunity to tell this tale of time travel. With that kind of storytelling, there is no way that anyone is going to believe it unless they believe the characters – it’s an independent film with no special effects and almost no budget so the story has to be right. Primerwon Sundance in 2004 and it was released later that year or 2005. Every inch of film we shot was in that movie with the exception of maybe 30 feet. We used expired stock, we used short ends, we used any kind of stock that Kodak would donate to us. We were a crew of five guys who trusted each other, you had to trust each other on that kind of budget, and we made this special little film.
Apparently there’s been some talk of a bigger-budget remake of Primer, with enough money to do the story’s time-travel themes justice. But Sullivan argues that this would be a mistake, because it would lose some of what made the original film special:
That maybe could have been made better if we had $10 thousand so we could have bought an extra four days of shooting but part of the beauty of that film is its reliance on talent and the hard work of people who want to tell this story. It’s in much the same way as with Flaked actually – very low budget, kind of indie filmmaking with a reliance on passion and talent. I haven’t looked it that way before but it’s true.
Also, he says that he wouldn’t be interested in a Primer TV show, unless there was an idea that both he and writer/director Shane Carruth loved.
The whole interview, including all his thoughts on working with Will Arnett, is worth reading. [Forbes]