The Night Shift interview: Eoin Macken on directing episode, TC’s return

Eoin MackenThursday night’s new episode of The Night Shift is entitled “Family Matters,” and it’s not going to be a normal hour of the show for many reasons. You’re going to see Kenny in grave danger and TC returning home after spending five episodes in Syria. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Eoin Macken is directing the show for the first time.

So what was it like for Macken going on the other side of the camera, and what lies ahead for TC the remainder of the season? These are both questions that we discussed with him in an email interview conducted earlier this week.

CarterMatt – At what point did you first decide that you wanted to direct an episode?

Eoin Macken – I have wanted to direct an episode since the beginning. I love this show and the people involved. I understand the stories, tone, and arcs and I wanted to work with the creative crew that we have to try some shots and tonal elements. [showrunners Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs] have supported the idea of me directing since the beginning, not least because when I was cast I was directing an indie feature (Leopard, released in the USA on iTunes last year, with Tom Hopper and Jack Reynor), so they were always aware of my inclinations. I also love working with friends and people I know, so it’s natural to direct this show and have a rapport with everybody.

You’ve done some directing on some other projects in the past. What were some of the clear differences that you found between working on those and doing it for TV?

TV is more relaxing from my experience. Independent filmmaking is hard work, but I deliberately learned that way – then everything subsequently becomes easier on bigger projects. Everybody is so specialized and good at what they do that my job directing was easy. I always think directing should be fun, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to do so.

Is this something you would be interested in taking on again down the road if the show gets picked up for a season 5?

100%. I loved every moment, and it brought me closer to the crew and we had a blast.

On the acting side of things, what were the challenges of being so separate from the rest of the cast so far this season?

It was difficult because I was a little isolated and I missed the banter and the dynamic I have with everybody from an acting angle, but thankfully Rana Roy, Jennifer Beals, and Jaylen Moore were so great that it was easy. We forged a lovely bond and it became a second Night Shift family.

Where is TC at emotionally when he returns to the hospital? Has it been difficult for him to mourn Topher being so far away from his colleagues?

I don’t think TC knows where TC is at. He’s pushing everything to the bottom of his belly and not facing it anymore, so there’s an element of distance with him now always; it’s his coping mechanism. He hasn’t dealt with Topher’s death yet, and that’s the only way he can survive right now without cracking. He’s got a shell around him that is peppered with good humor, but that hard edge may break at any time and consume him.

TC had grown close to Amira during his time in Syria, but it seems like that relationship is over. Is romance even going to be on his mind at all after that?

I don’t know if it’s over with Amira. She’s as broken as he is, troubled and brilliant at the same time, and they have a bond that isn’t going to disappear quickly. Besides that though, Jordan is always on TC’s mind. So don’t discount that.

Are there any other stories you’re excited about this season that you’ve filmed? (Obviously, I know you can’t give anything major away.)

Episode 6 has some great stories, such as Kenny’s, and [with] Ryan Simpkins and Kevin Ryan, the guest stars are superb. There’s a great new character played by Erica Tazel, and Drew and Paul have fascinating army-related exploits coming up. The veteran episode directed by Tim Busfield [airing next week] is very special, also. (Note: Read more about that in our interview with Brendan Fehr.)

Outside of the show, is there anything else you have coming up that you’re able to share?

I am working to try and close the financing to direct Here Are The Young Men in October from a book I adapted to screen. I have a great young Irish producer, Richard Bolger, who saw his first film become the best Irish film in the cinema box office this year. Before that, I have my second novel, Hunter and the Grape, being released in Ireland. The story is actually set in Albuquerque, a quirky road movie love story from ABQ to Los Angeles via Las Vegas.

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