Paul Sidhu – 2307: Winter’s Dream
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Please tell us the premise for your film 2307: Winter’s Dream.
A) The story is about a humanoid rebellion 300 years in the future when humanity is on the precipice of extinction. ‘Commander Bishop’ a disgraced special operative’s soldier is put back into commission to hunt down the leader of the humanoid rebellion.
Q) What drew you to want to be a part of the film?
A) Even though it is a sci-fi action piece, the real core of the film is about this man’s love for his daughter. That’s what is propelling him forward. The other thing that made the film so intriguing is that he starts off as a broken person. He has to find a way to piece himself together and move forward because he is finally given some hope and he clings on to that. The whole arc of an individual going from being broken to being relatively whole and finding purpose in life is something that I find was very endearing. I tend to have a great admiration for people who have setbacks in their lives, but then kind of dust themselves off and move forward with purpose.
Q) Talk about how the cinematography shapes the film and almost seems like another character.
A) I think you are 100% right there. In this film it is definitely the case. When the idea of the film came up, the creator of the story and film had to think about what the world of Winter’s Dream looked like and how they wanted to depict our future. Based on the locales we shot in and the overall climate and the sense you get, that does become a very integral part of the film. The film really is about struggle and it’s about struggle through subarctic climate. So, that’s one aspect of it where the dystopian future really is part of the palate of the storytelling. But then the other part is some of the gear, getups and gadgets that the soldiers get to use in the film. I think that any time an actor goes into a project, for me particularly as an actor, when you put on props or pieces or you have certain equipment it is sort of like you are settling into the skin of someone else and you’re becoming someone else. So, these external objects when you internalize them they become a part of the film and almost like an entity of its own. This film does that, I believe.
Q) How did you express the emotions of your character and high intensity of energy.
A) I think the first step was really having a proper handle on who ‘Commander Bishop’ is and that for me really goes into spending a lot of time with the screenplay. We had a screen play competed about a solid nine months before principal photography. So, I had the chance to read the story, reread the story and figure out what this character’s motives were. So, once I had a clear understanding of who this person was in his soul then I was able to put on his external face. The external face came from taking certain martial arts classes for a year and doing some weapons training as well. It was getting comfy with some to the gear he had wear. So, a lot of the prep for this character came from the script internally and understanding who ‘Com Bishop’ is and his place, but also making myself ready for this character so when we were ready to roll I had that internal and external structure in place.
Q) How was your character Commander Bishop originally broken down for you and what ways did he evolve?
A) I think that originally he was described as a dishonorably discharged officer in an elite squad of super soldiers of the future who was very introspective. He kept to himself. He carried a lot of pain, remorse and a lot of baggage and weight. That is sort of the basic construct of who he was and when we started investigating the character and getting into the screenplay and doing the rehearsals he definitely contemplative. He is more of a quiet soul. We found there was a lot of strength to him as well, and that strength is displayed more in his silence than in his active retorts or retaliations. I’m not sure if he changed so much from what was originally written or described of him. I think he stayed pretty on point to what the screenplay intended him to be. I think for me, personally as an actor, I began to admire more and more as I got to learn about ‘Commander Bishop’, his motivations and what drives him forward.
Q) What are the themes that are explored throughout the film?
A) Well, I think one theme that the film touches on and this was something that was placed in the screenplay and even though it was written about three years ago I think it is still relevant in our current day – in the future in order for humanity to survive it creates this race of humanoids to do the work for itself. But once this group of people is created they are marginalized and they are viewed in a certain way. So, one of the themes is really how one part of society can marginalize one part of a society and really justify that and claim that in order for the world to operate normally that this marginalization has to occur and this sort of discrimination has to occur. I think that is a strong theme throughout the film. Another theme I think you will find in the film is that there is a central theme where technology may not be everything that it is cracked up to be. Some of the aspects of the film really draw more on individuals who are at peace with Earth and the evolving Earth whereas the society that is living underground who created these humanoids wasn’t really able to evolve with Earth and are fighting evolution. They are using technology and their power and are not in harmony with the natural order of things in that world. Finally, I think a third theme that is there is the dangers of too much power in a small group of people and how a small group of people if they are given a lot of power can tend to abuse it and use it to their advantage. The central theme, once again, is really being able to overcome any challenge or hurtle in your life. If you’re a broken individual how do you move forward? I think that is really the central theme and it is really a story about humanity and how people can still succeed – maybe not in the way they imagined they would succeed – but they can move forward.
Fortunately, we have an outstanding cast and crew. Everybody involved with the film was absolutely wonderful and very, very supportive, which was really, really helpful. I think finding the character was not a difficult part because I got to spend a lot of time with the screenplay and I spent a lot of time with Joey Curtis the director. We formed a really good bond over this film and that was not a difficult part. I think the real hard part just came in the physical reality of shooting. We were shooting on Lake Eerie in 2015 in January when the lake was frozen over. It was below zero temperatures with wind-chill factors so we were frozen every day. This is an independent film so it was extremely difficult getting out on the ice and actually doing the scenes and being shuttled back and forth. The cold was something that was a reality, but we were all thankful for that cold because it really helped to get into the world of 2307:Winter’s Dream. The other thing I found challenging is that you usually hear about this wonderful action scenes driving studio films so when you’re doing independent films I think the action scenes are not as grand, but still tough. You are put in these situations where sometimes there is not a lot of safety. So, that was tough, but once again I was always surrounded by people who were really vying for your best interest. I always felt comfortable.
Q) The film is getting a lot of great buzz. What do you think it is about the movie that will draw in viewers?
A) I think the film is really unique because it is almost like this spaghetti western on ice, if you will. It’s definitely a drama piece and the pacing is very different from contemporary science fiction film. In our film, I think the drama of the characters is at the forefront so we never lose sight of that. But at the same time we have created this really interesting world with gadgets and personalities that I think people are relating to. Even though you have this huge pallet of huge studio films with spectacular action sequences like Warner Brothers or Disney putting out their superhero franchises (which are awesome), but I think that people are getting that this an independent film and they seem to give them a lot of love these days. They understand that the level of work that went into it and the story I think is a cool story.
Q) What was the most difficult aspect to doing the stunt work and which one was the most difficult to perform?
A) I’ll generalize it. Mostly on films when you hear about studio films the actor may say, “We started preparing for this sequence six months in advance. We did specialized training.” On our film, since we hadn’t choreographed any of the action sequence the director said I had to be ready for anything when the shooting begins. So, he gave me very rough parameters. For instance, I took Krav Maga for a year because we figured that would be the fighting style of the soldiers. I took some weapons training specifically on the type of weapons I would be using particularly if it were a sword or assault rifle. We just went into it to be prepared to be able to do the action sequences. Then, when the day came to actually do the action sequences we didn’t have time to choreography anything. It wasn’t something we had storyboarded and practice for a month before we actually did it. It was like the day before we were figuring out the maneuvers and locations for the crew. We had a couple of great action coordinators there, but it is the lack of choreography prep that made it difficult. IF there were one scene that was more difficult than the others it would be the ice climbing scene that was the hardest. The producers wouldn’t allow me to climb really high up, but they did allow me to climb high enough because they needed all my reaction shots and for it to look like it was me doing it. It was extremely difficult because I had never done it before and I didn’t have the foot gear for it because we couldn’t include it in the shot since it would look weird. So, all I had was the ice pick. I had to kind of get myself up with the picks, which was really tough and a really cold day. It was probably the hardest action scene that I had to do.
Q) What was it like working with director Joey Curtis?
A) We had an extremely close bond while we were in preproduction and filming. We went over every scene and the nuances. Why is the commander doing this or not responding in certain ways? Joe was very gracious in the sense that when I read the script I explained to him why I was reacting in a specific way. As long as he understood what my motivations were in regards to my portrayal he was very supportive. As long as it made sense per the story he was totally with me. So, it was really nice working with him because we had everything planned out before we went into the shooting for all of the scenes. That collaboration between myself and my director I think paid off. I think he got everything that he wanted out of commander Bishop and if he didn’t he would just let me know on set. He would be like, “I need the Commander to bring down the energy a little bit in this scene,” or what not. He would just give me gentle reminders if he felt like I wasn’t where the Commander needed to be. Sometimes when you are playing these parts you also have to keep in mind what is happening in the story in general in the sense like where is he now – is he under the effect of drugs, did he just get enhanced, etc. When you’re doing these sci-fi things you also have to always be cognizant of the fact of whether your character is under some chemical alteration and how it is effecting his responses. It was a good experience and a lot of input with the director, but we collaborated really well with the character before the filming and during filming.
Q) What have you taken away and carries with you from working on this film?
A) Well, I think the main thing I take with me from playing Commander Bishop is the sense that wherever you are in your life if you really put your mind to something and you keep your goal and focus in mind you can push forward. So, to me Commandeer Bishop is a real hero. I guess it is something that I would aspire to be like. That’s something I took away from being this character. In regards to the film itself and what I probably took away the most was the comradery of the cast and the crew. Everyone that was involved with the project gave like 110% to this project because everyone felt like it was something very special and very important. Really I think at the end of the day, as an actor, that’s what you want. You want to be a part of projects and storytelling which you and the people surrounding you feel are unique and special. For me, I’ll always have very, very fond memories of preproduction and when we were shooting the film. It was a wonderful experience.