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About The Production
Producer Lynda Obst's instincts to put Stephen Gaghan at the helm of "Abandon" were confirmed when the two met for lunch one day to discuss the idea of his making his directorial debut.

"I left that meeting certain I would not make the picture without him directing it," remembers Obst. "He understood that the style of the piece was an extension of its generation, and that it didn't have to rely on excessive blood or gore in order to captivate an audience. To him, it was clear that the horror would come from the psychology and interaction of the characters."

With the details worked out, Gaghan next found himself on a plane bound for Canada, where filming was about to take place at Montreal's McGill University. It was not only going to be his first day of directing, but it also just happened to be the day after he had won the Academy Award® for Best Screenplay for "Traffic."

Founded in the 1800s by James McGill, McGill University is Canada's preeminent institution of higher education and the primary set for "Abandon." According to location manager Celine Daignault, the campus was not only large enough to accommodate the production, but also had the right atmosphere and architecture to double for the ivy covered walls of academia where the story takes place.

"The filmmakers wanted a location that had an old New England, Victorian architectural style," recalls Daignault. "They also wanted a place that had ominous tunnels, which play a key role in the film and add to the story's atmosphere."

Montreal, says Daignault, was also perfect in its balance of old architecture and modern structures, and because it offers a variety of locations to support all of the films different moods.

Production designer Gideon Ponte says that he tried to echo the eerie mood of the story by using color and texture in the film.

"This is a movie about the traces people leave behind, about the evidence they leave on their way through their existence. It's also about memory, and how sections of one's memory and one's actual life can sometimes be combined," says Ponte. "From a design point of view, we were trying to make reality out of a very ethereal script. To do that, we designed sets above ground, where people live and work, and sets below ground that give off a smothering, dark feeling. For example, the university, library, police station and the corporate office where Katie ends up working are all in the light and all have a similar institutional palette. In contrast, for the sets where the ‘fun' stuff happens -- those brief moments of madness -- we use the tunnels and the Adams House, a decrepit, poisonous-looking place."

In the script, the rat-infested tunnels under the school form a labyrinth connecting to natural, underground caverns. They complement the psychological maze the characters move through and provide some of the film's most climactic scenes. The actual tunnels used were basement areas below McGill University and ones Daignault found in and around the Montreal area. Though the tunnels all connect to each other in the film, in reality they encompassed five separate location sites, some of which were several levels below street level.

Other dramatic scenes were shot in the 91-year-old sub-basement of what is now the FACE (Fine Arts Core Education) alternative school, formerly an early 20th-century all-girl high school. In spectacular condition for its age, everything in the old building remains intact, including an antiquated ventilation system and


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