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Digging for Deep Gold with Michael Gleissner

Digging for Deep Gold with Michael Gleissner

Articles - Cinematography

In the new action-thriller Deep Gold, a champion free-diver and her sister (played by Bebe Pham and Jaymee Ong) are drawn into a deadly conspiracy while investigating the disappearance of a government plane carrying a fortune in gold. Filmed entirely in and around the exotic islands of Cebu and Palawan in the Phillipines, Deep Goldfeatures eye-popping 3-D action sequences (including some spectacular underwater footage).

Just before Deep Gold hits theaters on April 22, MM caught up with co-writer/director Michael Gleissner (who also stars in the film) about the challenges of working with 3-D on a low-budget film.

Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Deep Gold was filmed entirely in Cebu, Philippines. What was it like filming in a tropical environment? Were there any hurdles along the way?

Michael Gleissner (MG): The Philippines provide some spectacular locations and it was the ideal place to set the movie in, given the story. Of course, filming on a tropical location that does not have a Hollywood-style film industry has some challenges. For example, we totally underestimated how much time it takes to shoot on boats, as the setup of equipment and lights are a lot more complicated. Also, I failed to realize that some people get seasick, simply because I never do, but especially in the first weeks of shooting we had quite a few crew members turning green.

MM: Although the film was originally shot in 2-D, the decision was made to convert the film into stereoscopic 3-D in post-production. Why was that decision made? What was the biggest difficulty in converting the film to 3-D?

MG: As an action film, Deep Gold is a prime candidate for conversion to 3-D. But the process is very laborious—you basically have to look at every shot and replicate the 3-D wireframe that is then converted into two stereoscopic images. Some spatial relationships can be recognized automatically (similar to facial recognition software), but there are still a lot of elements that have to manually be aligned on different planes. The whole process took more than three months, which required me to be very involved for every step of the conversion.

MM: What do you think the 3-D element brings to the film?

MG: 3-D films definitely create a deeper engagement with the audience. Using 3-D allows the audience to feel as though they are part of the action—turning them into participants instead of spectators. This in turn makes the film far more enjoyable and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats, allowing them to go on a journey with the characters.

MM: 3-D is usually thought of in terms of big-budget moviemaking, but it seems like more and more indie filmmakers are utilizing it. How do you see 3-D impacting the independent film scene? What are some of the pros/cons of 3-D in the independent film arena?

MG: Although 3-D films are just now becoming mainstream, my prediction is that within a few years it will become the norm to film in 3-D. With the cost of converting a film from 2-D to 3-D going down and the quality of conversion going up, a lot more independent films are able to utilize this. 3-D makes films more competitive within the marketplace, as theaters love the fact that they can charge a premium over 2-D movies, and basically get a much higher revenue from the same seating capacity.

MM: What’s up next for you? Are you interested in continuing to make action films, or would you rather dabble in a variety of genres?

MG: I personally love action films, and have two more in different stages of development. My next film however, is a drama titled The Girl with No Number that deals with the serious subject of human trafficking.

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