Published on March 4th, 2016 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Aleks Paunovic and Jamie Bamber
Last winter, we had a wide-ranging interview with film producer Robyn Wiener that included a discussion of the film, Numb, which had recently played at the Whistler Film Festival.
The positive response to the film has led to a national release and more acclaim for the film and Robyn Wiener, producer Dylan Jenkinson, and director Jason Goode.
With Numb now in select Canadian theatres, we spoke with Aleks Paunovic and Jamie Bamber to learn more about the production and their experiences going Numb.
Can you start by telling us about Numb and your involvement in it?
Aleks Paunovic: I’m an associate producer and lead actor in Numb. I knew about this project for close to 5 years. Jason Goode, the director, had me in mind for the role of Lee and then we helped workshop it.
Jamie Bamber: I was contacted by Dylan Jenkinson and Jason Goode in December 2014 via my agents. They put together a great creative package, including the script, which spelled out the vision they had for the film. Their funding was in place contingent on the role of Will being cast and apparently my name was on their list. I related to the role and after Skyping with Jason and connecting with him, I was only too delighted to climb aboard.
What kinds of preparation did you do for your role?
Aleks Paunovic: I did a lot of backstory and had some amazing coaching sessions with Andrew McIlroy who helped me find the depth of what this character of Lee was going through and why. He was my saving grace in shaping Lee.
Jamie Bamber: Jason and I talked quite a bit over Skype, honing Will and Dawn’s story arc, taking them from a shared predicament of adversity to one which had wrenched them apart. That was the crux of my preparation, exploring the stress which can work like freeze-thaw action on rocks, penetrating the cracks in otherwise sound relationships. I suppose the other aspect was researching the effect of cold on a body. I have had mild hypothermia before so I could call upon that too. Unfortunately when we shot, it was unseasonably warm so the bulk of our time was spent pretending to be cold and shivering on purpose, which is hard because it really makes you hot and sweaty; our physiological responses are logical and effective, it turns out.
What drew you to be a part of this production?
Aleks Paunovic: Relationships and story. I felt we had something great here and I got to do it with people that I know and respect. Heck ya, I wanted to be a part of it.
Jamie Bamber: I felt a connection to the impending financial abyss that Will faces. As an actor, I have been very lucky in many respects but that doesn’t change the fact that I am often only a couple of months away from facing the fact that I cannot pay the mortgage. As a husband and father, that feeling fills me with dread and shame and often the only solution is denial or semi-blind optimism. It’s the loneliness of the provider when you think your number is up. You are desperate for help, but to ask for it is weakness. Very real for many people. That’s what this movie was for me. Jason allowed me to work with him to accentuate that loneliness in the story.
What should audiences expect from this film?
Aleks Paunovic: I’ve had the pleasure of watching some screenings around the country and abroad and I love how people are responding. The oohs and ahhs. It’s great. So they can expect this thriller to be a bit of a ride.
Jamie Bamber: The Treasure of The Sierra Madre in the snow. Hopefully a meditation on need and how it can quickly turn into greed at the expense of spiritual – and literal – warmth.
Are there any books or authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?
Jamie Bamber: I would not have started acting without the Theatre and Shakespeare’s words in particular. Good words clustered in powerful rhythms are magical to speak and mesmerizing to hear.
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
Aleks Paunovic: This career can take you in different directions that may challenge you ethically. Try to live true to your character and integrity. I’ve been challenged in that and failed at times but those failures are my measuring stick. I’m going to try to keep doing the best I can for myself, my craft and to be true to my word and kind to people. It makes for a more joyful ride in work and in life.
Jamie Bamber: To be prepared. Turns out that effortlessness comes after much effort. Annoyingly, for me.
What’s your take on the current state of the Canadian film industry?
Aleks Paunovic: I love it! I love to see so many talented people working in front and behind the camera. We have some amazing product coming out of this country and it should always be supported.
Jamie Bamber: I have been lucky to live and work in Canada for long periods. I have always been deeply impressed by the talent, the infrastructure and the craft of your industry, particularly in Vancouver, which I know best from my Battlestar Galactica days. Some of the best sets I have ever worked on have been yours. I believe state funding is important not only to the arts but also to the economy at large. It gives me pleasure to work anywhere where that is born out.
What advice would you have for emerging Canadian actors?
Aleks Paunovic: Consistent persistence in what you believe in. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Jamie Bamber: No different to actors anywhere I’m afraid. Work hard and create your own work. Being on America’s doorstep gives you a privileged access to the biggest English-speaking market in the world, but in order to make the most of that you must also make the most of what you have at home; so write, direct, produce so that you don’t depend on anyone else to act.
What other projects do you have coming up and where can people find out more about you?
Aleks Paunovic: I’m close to wrapping the new installment of Planet of the Apes called War for the Planet of the Apes. I’m also starting a new series called Van Helsing that I’m extremely excited about. I produced and starred in a great short film written, directed and starring Ben Ratner with Zak Santiago and Donny Lucus called Gangy that should be coming out later this year.
Jamie Bamber: I am currently wrapping production on Marcella, a UK crime series by Hans Rosenfeld (The Bridge) which is for ITV and a Netflix Original. I am also awaiting release of Money, an indie feature shot in New York last summer. I have also written my first feature which I am hoping to produce and direct in the near future.
Thanks to Aleks Paunovic and Jamie Bamber for speaking with us!
Numb is now playing in select theatres across Canada.
For more details on the film, please visit the official Facebook page at Facebook.com/numbmovie