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Interviews

Tyler Hynes Previews Shifting Gears 

Tyler Hynes Previews Shifting Gears

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

This Saturday night, Hallmark Channel is going to do its very best to shut down social media completely as the Earpers, Hynies, and POstables converge for the premiere of Shifting Gears. Katherine Barrell and Tyler Hynes star as Jess and Luke, estranged first loves who parted years earlier over family loyalties when their fathers fell out during a business disagreement. Each chose their dad over the other, and here they are now, still working for them. 

Jess is happier than Luke, spending her days in her happy place, repairing and restoring cars while he’s tethered to a suit, tie, and desk in a corporate role. When they find themselves competing on a reality show to restore classic cars, it gives them a chance to reclaim the parts of themselves they’d given up and the versions of themselves they were when they were together.

The film is the first from the Make Her Mark Women’s Directing Program, and you can read more about that in my interviews with Ashley Williams, who shepherded the program, and Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe, who makes her directorial debut with Matt Marx’s script, here. Earlier this week, I chatted with Hynes about the film.

Shifting Gears

Hynes knew going in that the film would be a Make Her Mark directorial debut, as his producers and Williams had laid the groundwork early on. “The first conversation I had with Joel [Rice], who was our producer at Muse along with Mike Barbuto, they had told me that this is part of the Make Her Mark program, which Ashley had told me about months prior. She asked me if I would do a movie with somebody who is going to be a first-time director as part of this program. And I said certainly,” he recalls. 

“I can’t think of something better to do than that. And she said, ‘Well, watch it. You might get a call very soon.’ And then I got the call for the first one and as soon as they explained that to me, and that it was Crystal, which was just lovely and serendipitous and just a beautiful thing, then I was very much very interested. I can’t imagine a better reason to go make a movie than to give someone like herself an opportunity to show everybody how talented she is.”

The film is both a multilayered family drama and a romcom, and Hynes enjoyed the overlapping arcs. “There are a lot of dynamics at play. And some daddy issues. Any good romance should have that somewhere involved. [Andrew Jackson, who last played Santa Claus in Catch Me If You Claus, plays Luke’s dad, Steven, and James Burke, who plays Jess’s dad, Ray] were very talented actors and committed and gracious,” he says.

Shifting Gears

“It was a nice layer, because life can be sort of messy. I like in these movies how sometimes we can explore a little bit of that mess and still be aspirational with what we’re doing. It’s not a bad thing to have characters who are not all bad or all good, but just human beings. And I think the fathers’ relationship falls into that category. That was a nice circumstance. And it’s always fun to see me apologize for things. Everybody enjoys that.”

We know Hynes has an affinity for his Harley-Davidson, but the movie gave him a new perspective on classic cars. “I’m not particularly a savvy car guy, but my first car that I ever bought was a 76 Chevy Nova, which looked pretty close to my guy’s car in the competition. And I do love older cars. I love older things,” he shares.

“I love this bit of the older flair with Motown references and some of that music. I really do like the nostalgia thing. So it was nice to have the old cars and it was fun to be around them. And it was fun to watch the really talented artists who were there showing the evolution of these cars as we go through the competition.”

Shifting Gears

Hynes was thrilled to shoot in Ottawa, and make the production a family affair. “Having a production company in Ottawa, in my hometown, rise to the occasion of doing something that’s a little bit unorthodox and a little bit of a bigger ask for the movies that we make for this budget, and trying to do something interesting with these cars, they did a lovely job and and I’m very grateful for the whole circumstance,” he says.

“My mother was there a lot because she’s from the town that we shot in, which was a huge, beautiful thing for me. And my nieces got to come and be in the movie. They showed up one day and we threw them in front of the scene. Mike asked if I wanted my nieces to be in it. And I said ‘Oh, yeah. They would love it.’ And they did love it. And they’re right front and center. You see them both looking under a hood of a car and then meeting Kat.”

Hynes recently shared behind the scenes footage of his mom on set but the penny dropped while we were speaking that she isn’t onscreen in the film. “She’s not actually in the restaurant. Why didn’t I think of this? I missed my opportunity. Will I ever go back to Ottawa and shoot again? What have I done,” he laughs.

“I didn’t push her, even the nieces. It wasn’t my suggestion. I wouldn’t be so brave as to push for something. But I didn’t think to put mom as an extra, what a mistake. She probably would’ve fought me on it. But next one, I’ll lay down the law on the next one.”

“She came and she sat there right behind Colton [Royce]. When I’m looking at Colton doing the scene, all I can see is my mother sitting there staring at me. And she didn’t care. She just wanted to be there. And who’s gonna stop her? Not me, certainly.”

The movie also finds Hynes breaking out of his skateboarding and ice skating comfort zone by donning old-school, four-wheel roller skates for the first time. “That moment that you saw on screen was the first time I’d ever stepped foot on four wheels in that configuration,” he points out. “It does not feel like other things. It’s its own thing all by itself, and if you can stop in those things, there’s a whole thing. Luckily nobody slammed too hard.”

Earlier this year, Hynes teamed up with Never Been Chris’d co-star Janel Parrish for a Kansas City Chiefs social campaign that quickly went viral. Hynes was on vacation as he watched the teaser and trailer for the football-themed fauxmance break the Internet. “I was in Costa Rica when that thing came out. And it seemed to create a really lovely reaction,” he recalls.

Shifting Gears

“When the poster had dropped, everybody was very confused. And there were a lot of people in my DMs from different publications who were wondering what was going on. [Ed. note: It’s me. Hi.] Then they dropped the teaser for the trailer. And I [told them], ‘If you guys had let that poster ride just like a day or two longer, it would’ve been mayhem out here.”

“I think a lot of people really felt like they would watch this movie. And you had people who were just confused and surprised and they didn’t know what was going on. It got a huge reaction. And, everybody at the Chiefs camp who are just the most lovely human beings, were very tickled by the whole circumstance.”

“I really love those folks over there. I didn’t know much about them, didn’t know much about football. I’m a skateboarder. I don’t know about organized sports so much, but I’ve fallen in love with that team and the people over there. Truly, it’s a love affair. I love them to death.”

“It’s really special. Kansas is a very special city. It’s maybe the nicest people I’ve ever encountered in the world, in any country, any city, any place. There’s just so much open kindness there. Canadians are very nice and polite, but we’re a little reserved. You get the best of both worlds. You get the outgoingness of Americans and the kind sincerity of a Canadian. And that’s Kansas.”

As for whether he and Parish might revisit the characters when the Super Bowl-winning champs suit up later this summer, he says simply, “There’s a lot of talk in general. We’ll see what materializes. But certainly everybody likes to pay attention when people react such as they did.”

In the interim, he laughs at the notion the fandom triumvirate anticipating the premiere of Shifting Gears may also try to break the Internet. Like Williams and Lowe, he’s learning about their power in real time from the fans, and now that he’s back on Twitter/X, he’ll watch it unfold Saturday night.

“I’m becoming aware. It’s lovely that there are these different factions of audiences and perhaps they’ll all fall in love with each other,” he says. “[My account] just got resolved. They gave it back. Everything’s the same. And so I’m back on there, just in time to have it for this live tweet. I’ll be there on Saturday.”

Shifting Gears premieres Saturday, March 23rd, at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the U.S., where you can also stream it live on various outlets. As of publishing, the film doesn’t have an airdate in Canada yet (I KNOW). In case you missed it, check out my interviews with Ashley Williams and Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe here. Here are a couple of sneak peeks of the movie.

[Updated 4/24/24: Applications are now open through May 6th for the next admissions to the Make Her Mark program. Apply here.]

Photos courtesy of Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media.

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