Melanie Orr: The Hardy Boys

DGC Ontario Production The Hardy Boys is now available to stream on Hulu and will be coming to YTV in 2021. We spoke with Director Melanie Orr who has been busy this past year directing episodes of Lockdown, Endlings and the forthcoming The Parker Andersons. Below, Melanie talks to us about her connection to The Hardy Boys, her directing style and the importance of nurturing young actors.

How did you become involved in directing The Hardy Boys?

Everybody has some connection to The Hardy Boys! I remember The Hardy Boys books from when I was growing up. My cottage had them, my grandparents had them, they were in almost every home. The covers told a story on their own. When my son was around 5 years old, I decided to start reading The Hardy Boys books to him. It was our first chapter book and it was so great to see the excitement in him as I read on. The adventures of Frank and Joe hooked my son immediately; he was so interested in the discovery of clues and the unfolding mysteries.

When I heard that they were looking to make The Hardy Boys TV series, I knew it was going to be a hit. I immediately connected with Joan Lambur to talk about the show. I needed to direct the The Hardy Boys and almost a year later we were shooting it. I am so proud of this series and can’t wait for everyone to see it!

What was the most challenging aspect of shooting The Hardy Boys?

Honestly, The Hardy Boys was a dream to work on. We had an amazing team from the top down. But of course something had to be challenging… directing three episodes in a block, in the fall with all the weather, can be a challenge. We could not see snow because of the timeline of the series, and my block ran from late summer through the middle of winter (and we had snow). However, we were able to work around it. A huge shout out to my 1AD, Matt West, who scheduled my three episodes beautifully so that we could maximize the good weather and have time to make some real magic on screen. 

Can you talk about how you’ve put your creative stamp on this and other series when there are multiple Directors?

I’d like to think the creative stamp I left on The Hardy Boys was my ability to nurture the performances in Frank and Joe.This is a story about two boys who lost their mom and we worked together to explore how you would ‘get back to normal’ while layering that with their grief and how it would change them going forward. I really feel we shot some great scenes together.

I think my directing style has a lot to do with my success as a director. It’s my approach to working with the cast, my collaborative attitude while maintaining a specific vision, my patience with whatever challenges the day throws at me, and the whole environment I create. There are a lot of laughs and a lot of love.

Over the course of the past few years, you have directed episodes of Ghost Writer, Odd Squad, Utopia Falls…what is it about children’s and youth programming you find most rewarding?

Ultimately, what I love is nurturing young actors to accept being vulnerable as a performer and helping them find ways to be confident in delivering authentic performances. Seeing that process is pure magic! Also, I love the challenge of finding relatable experiences and discovering how to convey real emotions in the story. The secret is, don’t treat kids as kids, treat them as people.

I also believe that the content we make for children, youth and all audiences should have good messaging at its heart. What we watch shapes us and influences who we become. I feel we have a duty to make television for this audience layered with positive messages to model.

What do you love most about directing TV in Toronto?

What I love most about directing TV in Toronto is the crews! Honestly, we have some of the most talented people here. And… the seasons. Nothing beats the look of all the seasons!

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