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David Brezina shooting 'Abyss'.

The making of

Propast
(Abyss)

by David Brezina
and Pavel Kopp

Still from 'Abyss'.

A year to make

We started making Propast (Abyss) in September 2009 and the crew first premiere was in June 2010. As you can see it took about a year to make this film. Shooting itself didn't take long just two weeks but the most time was spent with post-production.

This is actually our first film which was filmed in two original language versions - (Czech and English). Yes, all the dialogue scenes were filmed twice. That is why it took more time to get this film done. It was always my dream to make a film in English. At the IAC Festival the viewers will have a chance to watch the Czech version with English subtitles. I decided on the Czech version because we are a Czech group and I thought it was more appropriate. It was hard to decide though.

Part of the team making 'Abyss'.
Some viewers might believe that we have professional equipment. It is not true. My father bought me the first digital MiniDV 3CCD small home video camcorder from Panasonic in 1997. It is still the same 14 year old video camera which we are using now. For the first time ever, in the film Propast (Abyss) we borrowed a couple of Dedo Lights and we were trying to play with lighting in the interior scenes. The lighting is precisely what gives the film its unique atmosphere. At the same time it was not easy because such an old camera has a problem in low light conditions. In some dark scenes you actually can see some picture distortion and noise. Well, it is time to buy a new camcorder :
Scene from 'Abyss'.

The most difficult part was the sex scene

Since I was both directing and playing in the film that was probably the most difficult aspect of production, especially in such a scene.

I was running naked from the bed to check the shot and camera settings all the time. It was hard to concentrate. I must thank Jirina big time because she was naked and very brave being there with four crew guys watching her acting.

This sex scene was filmed twice.

This was our first time filming such a sensitive scene and we made some mistakes the first time. The lights were too bright and we were using tongues while kissing. In a professional film you will never see actors using their tongues. Well, it might be pleasant during the shoot, but it is definitely "ugly" on the screen.

So the first time we made it look like a "soft porno" which was not appropriate. We decided to remake it.

Set for the sex scene in 'Abyss'.
Setting up the ice-bath scene in 'Abyss'.

Ice

Many viewers might ask. Was the girl really in the ice?

The answer is no! In the bath-tub there was a fake ice which you can make from plastic. The water was not exactly warm though. If it was warm the camera would have had a condensation problem and would stop working. Jirina, the main character, was in the cool water for about 3 hours.

The shiny red Volkswagen EOS car was borrowed from my father who was actually also playing the doctor at the end of the film. All possible props and equipment used in the film, except for the Dedo Lights, were from your own personal sources.

Post production

Editing took me about four months before I was finally satisfied. I must say that filmmaking for me is just a hobby and it is sometimes difficult to combine it with job and daily routines.

Still from 'Abyss'.
After editing it took another four months to make the music and sound design. A friend, Petr Mikeska, who made the original music for Propast (Abyss)  lives 400 Km from Prague so we were communicating virtually via the Internet and the funny thing is that we have never ever seen each other yet. We have been cooperating like this for more than two years now and Propast (Abyss) is our third project together.

Finally, I would like to say something about us. We are a group of friends / filmmakers from Prague who make amateur / independent films. Most of us have known each other since basic school. We do not do it for money. We meet and enjoy spending time together and we do it mostly because we love filmmaking and creating something new. The greatest feeling is to get together for the film premiere and talk about other potential projects. Filmmaking keeps us together and gives us a great time.

- by David Brezina (Sunset Film Production, Prague, Czech Republic)
Propast (Abyss) won a Diamond Award and the Most Creative Use of Sound Award at BIAFF 2011.


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Page updated on 26 March 2011
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