Having premiered earlier this month, Season 3 of Saving Hope has been a little different for actor Michael Shanks. Not only is Shanks reprising his role as Charlie, but he’s also getting behind the camera to direct—so we were really excited to sit down with him to discuss his experiences this season. Set your DVR to ION (channel 305) on Tuesdays at 11/10c for new episodes, and check out our interview with Shanks in addition to an exclusive First Look at his directorial contribution to Season 3 below!
You’re so used to being in front of the camera—what has the transition to the other side of the lens been like?
Moving from in front of the camera to behind it in a directorial capacity is like transitioning from soldier to general in the army. You have to turn on the part of your brain that sees the story from an objective overview, not just one tiny piece of it. And you’re in charge. And liable.
How do you feel your extensive work as an actor has contributed to your role as a director?
I think the key element I bring to the table as an actor, that can really be applied when I work as a director is the necessity of “truth.” If it feels like B.S., it probably looks like it, too. And the audience can sense it. Those cultivated B.S. detectors that actors use to hone their own work is a big part of being the storyteller, too. If the images and story “feel” false to you, the audience will feel it, too. Those instincts are a big part of keeping a director honest.
How does being the director affect your interaction with the cast? Does it change when you’re not directing?
As a director, you have to invade the process and acting choices of your fellow actors, which is strictly taboo when you’re just acting with them. There’s a great component of trust required to dig into that hallowed ground. Once I’m not directing, it’s easy (or should be) to turn it off and just melt back into being part of the cast. I think I’m yet to have anybody hold a grudge against me for pushing them while directing. I think…
You’ve done work that’s grounded in reality, but you’ve also tackled worlds that are fictional. How does your preparation as an actor/director differ from role to role (hospital drama vs. Sci-Fi thriller)?
I think the main difference between doing ‘reality’-based productions and more heightened/theoretical (Sci-Fi) shows is that one relies on you to bring up more base or everyday emotions to usual/everyday ‘heightened’ situations. Sci-Fi often requires you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks of often hypothetical or EXTRAORDINARY situations that one may never face. It demands a lot of the “little kid” in you, sometimes.
What are you most excited for viewers to see in the episodes of Saving Hope that you directed?
I’m just really excited to have people see our cast and guest stars shine in the episodes I’ve directed. I think everyone constantly brought their ‘A’ game, and the results are really something that everyone should be proud of.
Set your DVR to ION (channel 305) on Tuesdays at 11/10c for new episodes of Saving Hope.