Earlier this month, writer/director Shane Carruth (Upstream Color, Primer) explained — with no small amount of antipathy — his desire to stop making movies. (Sample quote: “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life talking to these assholes and trying to get financing for a fucking bridge loan or whatever the hell they’re going to do.”) But Carruth is using whatever clout he might have to help a new filmmaker named Nicholas Ashe Batemen with his directorial debut, a dark fantasy film titled The Wanting Mare.
The Wanting Mare follows several generations of women who struggle with their harsh existence on the barren, foreboding world of Anmaere, and who all dream of a magical age long ago. It’s an intriguing plot and the film is made all the more so by the fact that it was largely shot in a single storage space, with extensive visual effects used to create the film’s elaborate world. Or, as Carruth describes it:
Let’s not pretend this guy is an expert in CG, or 2D replacement, or green screens. That’s just what he had to do to make it happen. But what he’s doing, some people would pay $10 million for, and he’s doing it with a copy of Blendr on a MacBook. And yet nothing in this film could not have been done in the ‘70s. It’s not about the effects. It’s about the effort. He’s trying something. I do one-offs. He has a world. Once I saw that, I just became more and more dumbfounded. There is something in the handcrafted quality of this that gives you an intimacy with the material. There’s no space to waste, no money to waste.
The Wanting Mare recently premiered at the Chattanooga Film Festival and several reviews have already appeared online. While some critics knock the film’s plot for being obtuse, they all praise Batemen’s ambition and impressive indie/DIY approach to effects-heavy filmmaking. The most positive review comes from ScreenAnarchy’s Shelagh Rowan-Legg, who calls The Wanting Mare “a poetic fable wrapped in a strange fantastical futurism.”
No distribution deals have been announced for The Wanting Mare yet, but hopefully, it’ll be picked up soon. I, for one, want to see it based just on the haunting-yet-cryptic trailer as well as Carruth’s involvement. As for Carruth, here’s hoping that he gets the resources he needs to complete whatever films he has left in him. His films certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but his inimitable aesthetic and thoughtful approach to storytelling is a welcome change of pace from the typical Hollywood fare.