‘Deeper Than Yesterday’ dir. Ariel Kleiman

After three months submerged underwater, the men have become savages. Oleg fears that losing perspective may mean losing himself.

Writer-Director: Ariel Kleiman
Producers: Benjamin Gilovitz, Anna Kojevnikov, Sarah Cyngler
DOP: Peter Eastgate
Editor: Ariel Kleiman
Key Cast: Albert Goikhman

C8: Where did the idea for ‘Deeper Than Yesterday’ come from?

AK: My girlfriend Sarah showed me this magical photo of a women floating in a cocktail dress in the ocean. It was such an alluring image. I instantly began thinking about how she got there and more specifically what would happen if someone found her floating there.

C8: The main protagonist, Oleg, is a morally grey character. Were you worried that this might distance the viewer?

AK: I think Oleg’s morals are good but he kind of struggles a little with which ones to prioritise and how to stay true to them. This constant inner turmoil to try to remain a decent person is integral to the human experience and so I think is ultimately, really relatable.

C8: What were you looking for in your actors when you cast the film?

AK: I’m always drawn to expressive faces and eyes. For ‘Deeper’ I also wanted a range of body shapes, personalities and temperaments. The more idiosyncratic, rougher, volatile and unpredictable the better. In all honesty these things excite me more than CV’s, training or previous acting experience.

C8: Did you spend any time rehearsing with the cast before or after you were on board the submarine?

AK: Dimitri Pronin who plays the captain in the film runs a small drama class in Melbourne. He warmly opened his studio to us and we all spent a few weekends together before the shoot. We mainly just hung out, had BBQs and I showed everyone movies. We talked about ‘Deeper’ and what would be involved in filming it. Dmitri also ran a few crazy drama games which instantly loosened everyone’s nerves.

C8: Do you think that shooting on a real submarine helped to attain the claustrophobic atmosphere seen in the film?

AK: Absolutely. The second we climbed down into the belly of that sub the whole cast and crew immediately felt it in our loins. The atmosphere and history of the space inevitably seeped into the crews psyches and the actors performances.

C8: Can you describe some of the challenges of shooting in a submarine?

AK: The challenges were endless really. There was an overwhelming lack of space. There was no power on the submarine. The air was stale.  We couldn’t go into certain areas for fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. Throw into that environment 15 unpredictable Russian men and a tiny crew with no money and no time.

Though funnily enough, the biggest challenge of all, was actually getting on and off the submarine. It was moored in the middle of a bay and we had to take boats out to it and then climb up the side. Try imagining this rag tag group of film students trying to carry 35mm cameras, lights, film gear, etc. up the side of a concave slippery submarine in the windiest month of winter. It felt like the Benny Hill show.

C8: Did shooting on 35 mm film complicate this at all? Would shooting on DSLRs or another digital camera have made it easier?

AK: The size of DSLRs would have been handy but 5D’s weren’t really that great in 2009 and to be honest even if they were, they still don’t look nearly as good as 35mm. After the pain of getting the camera on board, I found shooting film a very quick and effective way to work.  It suits my process and also suited the emotional grandeur of Deeper.

C8: The film was warmly received on the festival circuit. Did you at any point while making it feel that the film would do as well as it did?

AK: We put all of our hearts into making the film and certainly hoped that people would be able to see and enjoy it but never thought it would have the festival life it did.

C8: Did you feel that its status as an ‘international film’ would inhibit it on the festival circuit?

AK: I was pretty naïve, that sort of stuff didn’t even cross my mind.

C8: What has winning the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival done for your career and the film?

AK: It’s a little hard to quantify these things sometimes. It definitely made people around the world more aware of the film and my future projects. It also made my friends think that I was even more arrogant than before.

C8: What, in your opinion, makes for a good collaboration?

AK: Trust, talent and a common goal.

C8: What’s next for you? Any exciting plans for the future?

AK: I’m spending the rest of this year finishing post production on my first feature film Partisan. It stars Vincent Cassel and like ‘Deeper’ has a host of eccentric first time actors.