[General spoilers ahead.]
Saturday night, Tyler Hynes is back on Hallmark Channel in A Picture of Her, starring opposite Rhiannon Fish in a romance that flips the script a little bit by introducing the romance early on and setting up the gotcha before they even formally meet. Director Michael Robison pairs with Hynes for the third time following It Was Always You and An Unexpected Christmas, this time directing a script by Donald Davenport and Jeff Wood.
In the film, Hynes is Jake, a photographer with a love of candids and landscapes who begrudgingly makes a living taking long-lens paparazzi shots. Beth is a second generation fishboat captain who arrives in LA from the Pacific Northwest to help her Aunt Dodie (Samantha J. Ferris) recover from an injury.
Jake and Beth cross paths but do not meet at a local farmer’s market when Jake sees her standing amid a sea of roses and is moved to take her picture. When it’s accidentally included in a set of “around the town” images and winds up on the cover of an LA weekly, Beth gets her 15 minutes of fame, whether she wants it or not.
Between taking the photo and having it splashed all over LA and the Internet, Jake and Beth properly meet at a dog park and are pretty immediately smitten. Just as they’re getting to know each other, her image ends up all over the world and Jake keeps quiet about his role in that. So, from the jump, there’s a ticking clock on when and how she’ll find out and how he’ll explain his silence.
I caught up with Hynes last week to chat about the film. In case you missed it, the first part of our conversation, about his short film, Chimera, is here.
In addition to reshaping the arc of the relationship, A Picture of Her also reverses the roles somewhat, making Beth very self-assured of who she is and Jake less so. While both are empathetic, kind characters who have good reason to be emotionally guarded, Jake is definitely the more tentative of the pair. That was one of the aspects Hynes was excited to explore.
“Obviously, we make a lot of these movies, and so you try to find what’s valuable about this particular story with all the tools and assets that are coming part and parcel with it. And I think with this movie in particular, what I liked, just at the center of it, is this theme that there is beauty in the world and that the world hasn’t forgotten about valuing the simple pieces of art or images that it might come across,” he shares.
“My character’s a bit more on the sensitive side. When we meet him, he is of the opinion that what he valued as an artist was not really being reflected in the rest of the world, that they didn’t really care about that kind of thing anymore. And the beauty of this story, and its core, is that Beth, just by being who he is, shows him that that’s not the case. That the world does care about the authentic and the simple and the beautiful and its authentic form.”
“And I think that’s a really nice thing to explore and a nice message to put out there and reflects a little bit what’s happening in my life at the moment in what I’ve been watching and what I’ve been making. So it’s good timing all around.”
One of the things Hynes does very well in the role is adjusting Jake’s physicality to his situation. When he’s with Beth and Dodie, and shooting the things he wants to do, he’s visibly relaxed and more fluid with his movements. When the phone rings and he’s called to a job, he tenses up and his features harden. It’s a means to an end that’s getting harder to consciously choose to go do now that he’s found something, and someone, much more organic and fulfilling. Hynes had a role in softening Jake to make that distinction more apparent.
“There usually comes this point with these characters where you can take them one way or the other. When I first entered the project, I think the original conceit was a little more of somebody who was a bit of a Hollywood slick type and was in this paparazzi world [by choice] and was this artist, as well,” he explains.
“But I really wanted to focus on [the artist] side of him because I think that there’s not a lot of that left in this world. And for me, with how I treat my social media and, and my presence that’s out there in the public, I try to put the focus elsewhere. Because to me that’s what’s most interesting. If someone were to follow me, it’s a bit of a POV of what I see.”
“And I think that that’s more compelling than to look at myself. And I think Jake feels that same way and just happens to find his muse in Beth. I like that he’s not some fake famous photographer. He feels a little almost blue collarish, which I think is nice to see an artist in that light and even though it ends in a nice, lovely way with the success, he chooses a humble approach to the whole thing. Those are the little things that I hope translate.”
Jake’s photographs in the film were shot by its cinematographer, Mel Ward. “She not only did an incredible job on the film, I think is one of the most talented cinematographers around and one of the rare breeds because she is female. She and her team were the ones who were pulling those images and I was so, so pleased to see that they were of a certain caliber and simplicity that I was very much interested in having be a part of this character’s tapestry,” he says.
“She’s far more talented than I in all things relating to the camera and the film stock that I so inappropriately had in my mouth at the beginning of the movie. She was informing me as to how everything works and gave me a bit of an education. I do what I can with my phone, but I wouldn’t claim to be some savant photographer by any means. I was very, very fortunate to be working with her.”
While Hynes has a history of collecting and distributing pieces of his wardrobe to fans, he’s realizing he perhaps should start keeping non-clothes things for his own history. “I don’t keep any mementos for myself. I should start collecting because at the end of this there’s going to be a whole story in itself. A little legacy there. But I’m already 13 movies deep so that the ship may have sailed,” he laughs.
Hynes enjoyed working with Fish and Ferris, and there are some especially fun, crackling scenes between Jake and Dody. If Hallmark ever wanted to dabble in a May-December thing with the two actors, I for one am here for it. “Sam really gave me the gears on those days.Those could have gone in two different directions and she was cutting me like a knife and I loved every minute of it,” he recalls.
“She is an incredible talent and I absolutely adored spending time with her. The dinner table scene that we did was the very first thing that we shot. I sat down and we started doing our thing and very quickly I turned to Rhiannon, who I had just met in that moment, and Sam in that moment, and I said, ‘We’re gonna have a good time on this, aren’t we?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ And we did, we certainly did.”
Hynes had a handful of favorite moments on the project, including the meet-cute scene, which the dog dad to Rusty James said was unwieldy to shoot but very fun. “The scene in the dog park where Beth’s golden retriever is not cooperating was very much what was happening on the day. And I thoroughly enjoyed that,” he says. “There’s a laugh at the end that’s quite authentic.”
As a real-life motorcycle enthusiast, Hynes was grateful to be able to ride on camera in the film, although warmer weather would have been welcome on some of those days outside. “Being able to stop traffic and do these motorcycle sequences, which I’m so glad that they did and to have enough of them in there, [was fantastic]. It’s tough on these budgets and insurance and these things to actually have me on the bike, but it was a priority that myself and Liz [Yost], our executive, both were interested in,” he shares.
“We were up in Squamish in northern Vancouver in the mountains during a relentless amount of rain and very cold weather with me on this bike, which you can’t see the rain on camera, luckily, but it was just frigid shooting those motorcycle scenes. I really got what I asked for, didn’t I?”
He gives all credit to the crews that made that work, and make all the Hallmark films come together so seamlessly, typically shooting in a very compressed 16 days. “I am always astounded and impressed with these productions’ ability to see these movies through and not allow little things like weather to get in the way,” he explains.
“Unfortunately, they can end up falling victim to having to re-record all the audio for those scenes, which inevitably can sometimes hurt the performance. But it’s really impressive that we’re able to do these movies the way that we do and the number and the timing that we do them. It’s a marathon that a lot of really hard working people have to endure and persevere through. And I’m very, very proud and impressed by everybody who’s part of that.”
A Picture of Her premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the US and streaming on Peacock, and on W Network in Canada. In the US, it’ll also be streaming after air on watchhallmarktv.com. Check your listings, too, because Hynes is all over Hallmark Channel leading up to and after the premiere, including an encore of Three Wise Men and a Baby on Friday night at 8 pm/7c. Check back Friday morning for the final part of our conversation as he revisits capturing lighting in the bottle for the number one cable movie—on any network—for 2022.
Here are a few sneak peeks of A Picture of Her.
Photos and videos courtesy of Hallmark Media.
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