[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Killjoys has tapped a handful of directors to repeat over the series’ five-season run, and Peter Stebbings is part of that club, banking his fourth and fifth episodes with the Season 5 premiere and tomorrow night’s episode. I spoke with him today, calling from New Zealand, where he’s prepping to spend the next several months directing all eight episodes of the upcoming Canadian/NewZealand miniseries called The Sounds that will premiere next year in both countries and stream in the US on Acorn.
Stebbings considers himself very fortunate to be one of the directors who’s worked across multiple seasons. “It’s an honor to be asked back to anything. It means you’ve left an impression somewhere. When you’re asked back, it’s a place of privilege and it’s not a place to take for granted,” he explains. “You try to double down and make your next effort better than your first and the next effort better than that.”
“In the four years it took to shoot those five seasons, you grow as a filmmaker. After that time, you have a shorthand with the Director of Photography. I really like Mike Marshall and the aesthetic of the show. You have the freedom to express yourself with big wide lenses and camera angles that are more adventurous than your standard fare.”
“Anytime you spend with Mike Marshall as your DP, you’re going to learn so much. I can honestly say I grew as a filmmaker during the making of this series. I think sci-fi also affords you some technical things that are good for your toolkit, like dealing with the interactive special effects element. It was a great school, and a great honor.”
“You [also] know the cast really well and they know you really well and you come to love each other. It felt a little bit like going home. I had so much fun. From the creative team on down, there’s a lot of trust there.”
“You’re dealing with this really, at times, crazy, head-scratching mythology and trying to figure all that out and be part of the creative process and come up with solutions that make sense not just for your episode but for the broader arc. It’s a puzzle and I thoroughly enjoyed my time on that show.”
Stebbings says the Season 5 reset afforded everyone room to have a good time and swing for the fences. “Everybody, from hair and makeup to the actors and writers, enjoyed that reset because it was [the realization that], ‘Oh, we can do anything.’ I remember when Thom Allison walked in with his new look, I literally didn’t recognize him and it took several moments to register [that it was Thom].”
“We were all having a lot of fun with it. This is the type of thing you can do in sci-fi and easily explain away and I think that’s what made it sort of fresh for these guys. What can you do for five seasons? What stories can you tell? We had a lot of giggles doing that.”
One of the set pieces in tomorrow’s episode was shot at a steel factory, and Stebbings loved the visual aspects of staging there. “Sometimes, sets speak to you. It spoke to me. Sometimes when you do location scouting, you have creative synchronicity with the spaces you’re looking at,” he explains.
“You [shoot that with the] 8 mm lens because you can, because the set allows it. Typically, when you put on that lens, the image starts to bow and bend, but this one has a corrective element to it, and it gives you an optical sleight of hand that makes it look gigantic. Mike had these things in his kit, and [was often saying], ‘Let’s play with this!’”
Hannah John-Kamen delivers a devastating scene with Kelly McCormack tomorrow night and Stebbings says she was a gift to work with. “I love [Hannah]. She has enormous range. She’s an athlete, she’s elegant, she does a lot of her own stunts. She has incredible chops. She has huge range and it’s really fun to play with,” he shares.
“She’s so responsive to direction and also just so dialed in all the time. She’s a pleasure to work with. They all are. They’re good people . They’re generous off set and on set, and that’s reflected n the tone set by Hannah, Luke [Macfarlane], and Aaron [Ashmore].”
“They set a really nice tone for the rest of the cast and the show. And that was a very welcoming thing. They really are a family and that family didn’t take long to come together. The last season reflects the kind of love they share with each other and their generosity of spirit.”
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 pm/9c on Space Channel and Syfy. Come join the live Tweet! All of our Killjoys coverage is here. You can catch all four seasons and the Season 5 premiere on demand on the Space Go app and Syfy app and website.
FYI, for something completely different, the last miniseries directed by Stebbings, Canada’s six-episode drama, The Disappearance, is running now in the US on WGN America, Tuesday nights at midnight ET, and the first two episodes are available On Demand.
Photos Courtesy of Space Channel.
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