Director Baltasar Kormakur Talks THE DEEP, What it Means to Be Iceland’s Academy Award Selection, and More

     November 26, 2012


One cold night in Iceland in March 1984, a man accomplished the impossible: he survived five hours in the freezing ocean after the fishing boat he was on sank and then managed to swim ashore.  Yes, I said five hours. If you’re not aware, most people can only last a few minutes in the winter ocean, with some able to endure ten or fifteen minutes.  But lasting an hour is unheard of, let alone five!  This is the true story of director Baltasar Kormákur’s film The Deep, and it’s also Iceland’s official Academy Award selection for Best Foreign Language Film.

Recently I sat down with Kormákur (Contraband2 Guns) for an extended video interview and every night this week I’ll be posting part of it.  Tonight covers The Deep.  During this portion Kormákur talked about how he first became aware of the story, how much was fictionalized, what the success of the film in Iceland means to him along with it being the national submission for the Academy Awards, deleted scenes, the challenges of filming with a small budget, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Before getting to the interview, here’s the trailer:

The-Deep-movie-imageBaltasar Kormakur Time Index:

  • Kormakur first heard the real-life story of The Deep in 1984 when he was 18.  When he was 20, he met the actual man in a bar.
  • 2:40 – Talks about how he “cracked the story.”  He was inspired by a one-hour play that told part of the story, and asked the playwright to collaborate with him on the screenplay.
  • 4:20 – Kormakur says he tied the story thematically to the collapse of Iceland in 2008.
  • 8:50 -The Deep is a huge success in Iceland and is the national submission for the Academy Awards.  Kormakur explains what that means to him and how gratifying that is.
  • 11:00 – Says, “I stayed away from Hollywood-izing the film as much as possible.”  For instance, he didn’t want to create a fake antagonist.  He used dialogue straight from interviews.
  • The-Deep-movie-image13:50 – There is an infinitesimally small percentage of the population that can survive as long as this fisherman did.  Kormakur came across just one other woman who did so in his research.
  • 15:20 – The first cut was just over two hours, with about twenty minutes cut out in the final cut.  But “this is the director’s cut,” so he doesn’t expect to put out an extended cut on home video.
  • 16:40 – Focus Features picked up the U.S. rights.  He thinks it will heat North American theaters in the spring.
  • 17:30 – Kormakur looked into shooting in a tank, but thought that he wouldn’t be able to sell the artificial sea look to Icelandic viewers.  So they shot in the sea.
  • 18:50 – Explains why he shot on the Red EPIC.  There was no way to shoot on film in the sea.


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