Rostislav Vítek has “conquered over 60,000 kilometres of swimming”
3rd December 2019 by Will Stewart
MadeGood – Please tell me a bit about yourself as a film maker, and how you got into film making. Is this a typical example of your work.
Lubos Rezler – I was born and raised in Prague, Czech Republic, I’m 27 years old. I studied Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). When I was at high-school, I was into photography a lot but then my focus shifted to film-making, mostly because of my obsession with science fiction cinema. Another break-through was seeing Tarkovskij’s Stalker for the first time. I have even written my bachelor thesis on him later. I was fascinated by the film language and how it can transfer powerful emotions and thoughts just by capturing and structuring space & time.
I have always been rooted in an environment full of culture. I am a member of a light-design collective BLOK_4, DJ & music promoter. We have created many light installations, performances and objects. I’m a former art student and a big admirer of art connected to light and performance. These are crucial factors that formed my visual style. Currently I’m focusing on commercials, music videos and short films. In the future I’m planning to develop a feature film but I’m still in search of major themes that I resonate with.
I wouldn’t say that Aquanaut is a typical example of my work. I like to experiment with different genres and lengths, especially with short films. Hopefully Aquanaut shares that specific vibe that can be found in my other work.
MadeGood – Tell me a bit about how you found your Aquanaut, Rostislav Vitek, and what made you want to make a film about him? It’s quite an abstract film, was it easy to get him to co-operate?
Lubos Rezler – At the beginning Tomáš Kotas (DOP) approached me with his school assignment that had to be filmed on 16mm camera and the theme was sport. That’s when we started to discuss possible athletes or sports that we could portray. Tomáš suggested Rostislav Vítek as a contemporary icon/character of long-distance swimming in Czech Republic. We sent him an mail, gave him a call later and then jumped into my car heading to Brno to meet Rostislav personally. I must say that my first interview with him was quite fascinating as he described his techniques and explained to us what it means for him to be a long-distance swimmer. I sensed a great calmness and power in his character. That’s what sealed the deal. We are about to shoot “Aquanaut”.
MadeGood – The film looks absolutely fantastic, I see you worked a cinematographer Tomáš Kotas, and the film was shot on 16mm film. Please tell me a bit about this working dynamic, and the creative process behind it.
Lubos Rezler – Yes it was shot on Aaton XTR super 16mm. I really enjoy working with Tomáš, because he has this great energy and dedication for any project he works on. We both love to shoot on film and have some former experience with it.
What I find most beautiful about working with film material is that you really have to think twice before making decisions. You have limited time on your roll and that’s what makes you work more precisely. With digital that is practically limitless in terms of storage (and also cheaper) it’s a whole another game. The state of mind between the two mediums on the set is just different.
We had a small and effective crew consisting of three to four people. I was helping a lot with the camera work, which I don’t mind at all, because I had just one actor to work with and I would consider myself a visual director who focuses on the image a lot. However, the most essential part for me was to find a way to tell Rostislav story and portray his world in original and authentic way. Rather than following a conventional linear structure of the story, I wanted to take a different approach. As we got to know each other better and worked on the script, I realized that I would like to use a form of athlete’s diary. Notes from his accomplishments and trainings. I hope this created a suggestive portrait of Rostislav as an exceptional swimmer.
MadeGood – Was there much of a technical challenge working around so much water, and often even shooting under water?
Lubos Rezler – It was quite a big technical challenge to shoot under-water shots, especially the takes on 16mm film. We used a pan-aquarium a lot, which is basically a huge tank which you put into the water with the camera inside. It was quite thrilling for a few moments as we were adjusting the cam in the pool and made our best not to drown it. Later on I asked my friend who is a professional camera operator & scuba-diver to help us with the underwater shots in the mountain lake Gosauseen in the Austrian alps. We had a small digital cam underwater and the 16mm cam was on an electric boat with us on the lake.
MadeGood – What are you working on next?
Lubos Rezler – I’m currently developing my short film “The final hunt” which is already in the final financing stage of the project. We are trying to get funding from the Czech Film Fund to be able to shoot later in 2020. I am also working on couple more passion projects – namely a fashion film for a Czech fashion brand called “Rap“. It’s going to be a fiction documentary combined with a look-book. Then I’m planning to shoot a short documentary about sailing and few others.
In the end, I would like to say is that Aquanaut bonded us with Tomáš together a lot for the future. Later-on we created two projects together. If you would like to see it, there is a first one which is a short fashion film for a czech brand Livesweaters and than there is a music-video for a Czech rapper/singer Viktor Sheen.