SC: You are highly connected to us at Super Channel, with The Trainer, Safe Harbor, and Profile for Murder on Vault, as well as Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, I Do I Do I Do, and of course Chesapeake Shores on Heart & Home. After a long list of successful movies, what was it about these stories that caused you to pursue Chesapeake Shores as a series?
DP: You’ve got me covered. I liked the stories and thought that they were inspirational and always end happily. I felt that the time that we’re living in that the audience wants something to feel good about, opposed to the darker fare that’s in the theatres or on television. I think I was right about that, as there’s a big audience. Chesapeake Shores was more suited for a series than a one-off because they’re great characters that could recur. The audience is really hooked into these characters, and that was apparent to me as soon as I read it, and why this was meant to be a series as opposed to a film.
SC: Based on pictures, it appears you spend a lot of time on set during filming. How long did you spend in Canada this year?
DP: Not as much as I would like because of the quarantine. The first time I had to stay in the hotel suite for 2 weeks. Someone actually had to come and knock on my door to ensure I was there. I can say they were serious. I am a permanent resident, so I certainly want to obey the rules and had to make sure I did everything correctly. I had another series going at the same time, so it’s like with children, you got to show equal love to both. I was in Vancouver when they finally lifted the quarantine for citizens and permanent residents so that was great. Normally I’m there for the whole period of time, but I just couldn’t go back and forth as I would have liked to.
SC: Do you have a favourite place to visit or a favourite filming location in Canada?
DP: I love shooting in Parksville/Qualicum, which is north of Victoria. It’s beautiful, the scenery is great, and I think our locations are a character in the show. People love the locations, and everything is beautiful. The main location is the O’Brien house and I fell in love as soon as I saw it. You’re there shooting a series and you’re also looking out at the ocean. As soon as we went to Qualicum, I said “this is Chesapeake Shores. They got it.” There was no doubt in my mind.
SC: When speaking with Sherryl Woods, she described collaborating with you as having the same vision and a real partnership. How would you describe your work together?
DP: I couldn’t say it better. Sherryl is a gem, a brilliant author, and a very nice person. We’re like brother and sister; we’re very close and our vision is always in accord. I feel a tremendous responsibility to the author, to protect the author and the author’s vision. I feel that I’ve done that, with both of these series.
SC: Any Chessies that have been following this series will know that you made a few cameo appearances. Which one of the cameos was your favourite?
DP: I always wear the same orange shirt in every film that I’m in. I’ve done over 50 films. There was a movie I did called Panic in the Skies, where I played a reporter on the ground. The plane had to make a crash landing and we ran a little short on time and had to extend it a bit. We couldn’t do that with people on the plane, and we had done everything we could. So, as it turned out, I had to be the reporter on the ground and I had a pretty big role in it, as that was the role that they extended.
I would say my favourite one on Chesapeake would be the one where I’m ordering coffee in Sally’s and Carlo Marks who plays David was the barista. I put my assistant in there also, and she played opposite me. I also like my scene at the Regatta where my social media director played with me. We had a lot of fun with it. They’re all fun. The writers and the showrunners write them just for me. This year I’m a construction worker, a crew boss in Chesapeake Shores. It’s fun. I guess I’m a frustrated actor.
I’ll share a funny little tidbit: When I’m on the set a lot of the times I’m standing there, and people think I’m a background/an extra and don’t know who I am. One time I was standing there looking at my watch and I wanted to start filming. This was taking too much time, so I bellowed out on set, “come on guys, we gotta get going” and everybody turns around, all of these other actors who must’ve been thinking, “who the hell is this guy? What nerve he has” without realizing that it was the Executive Producer right next to them.
SC: How would you describe season 5 in 5 words?
DP: Lots of fun and romance.
SC: Which character do you believe has grown the most over the seasons?
DP: Very good question. I would say maybe Kevin, Brendan’s character. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but he’s taken on more responsibility, and he’s grown up. I’ve seen a nice arc with him and he’s now a responsible young man.
SC: Chessies have often asked for a holiday or special film. Is this something that might still be considered?
DP: I’ve asked that question to Hallmark and that’s their decision. I’d be happy to do holiday or specials for them and I know When Calls the Heart has done that. Maybe if the fans speak up and let that be known, we could do one. We talked about doing one last year, but Covid reared its ugly head. It was going to be a destination film where the three sisters would go somewhere, because they’re great together. We talked about Ireland since the family is from there and actually wrote a script. Every season we would do a different exotic location.
SC: The cast have a wonderful chemistry and certainly fit their characters.
DP: The cast is terrific. I give a lot of credit to our casting director, Candice Elzinga, in Vancouver. She helped us pick the brothers and sisters and that really put the show together. Treat and Diane are very accomplished actors and have been nominated and won all sorts of awards, but these young people they really helped to put this family together. They are very solid, attractive, talented, and really nice people to work with. It’s a very, very happy set. I must tell you that. It’s bittersweet at the end of every season. This year there were changes made so it was somewhat different, a different showrunner for starters, who’s done a terrific job. Phoef Sutton is our showrunner, he’s an Emmy award winning showrunner, and did Cheers for a number of years, again the quality of his writing shows.
SC: You have always found ways to include the Chessies, from live tweeting to posting pics from set. What do the Chessies mean to you? How does interacting with the fans affect you in your role?
DP: It’s everything. They’re the people that continue the series, so they are very important to us. They’re a lively bunch. I do love to get involved with them, because we’re really making this show for the fans. That’s the end result and they’re a terrific group. They’re really into the show, which is nice and it’s nice to get feedback because you want to know what you’re doing right, and what you’re not doing right.
SC: There are a few surprises this season including new characters, but something that was made known was Jesse Metcalfe leaving.
DP: Some surprises are fun, but that’s one the fans should know about up front. The transition was very smooth, and Rob (Robert Buckley) is great. He’s the new lead, is a good looking guy, a real sweetheart, and a completely different character. We wanted to go 180 degrees from Trace and his character is that. It’s lighter and a lot more fun. We’ll see how the fans feel about it. Your guess is as good as mine.
SC: When this series eventually ends, what is the one prop that you would want to take from set?
DP: One prop would be the sign from Sally’s as that means a lot. And the second choice would be the DLP sign (Law firm), but definitely the Sally’s sign first.
SC: If you could eliminate any barriers, what would the future look like for Chesapeake Shores? Would there be a change in budget or additional episodes?
DP: Very good question. It’s not so much about budget, but my first request would be to give myself a couple more days per episode, just a little extra time. Ten episodes is fine. If you do 20-22 episodes it gets a bit much for the cast, and you start to burn out. The streaming services are going more along the way of ten episodes. For myself, as opposed to making the series longer, I’d rather make them better with more time.
SC: The creation of a series can seem foreign to many fans, but Dan Paulson has been a beacon, shining a light on the reality of filming. By personalizing his position and connecting with the fans, Dan is far more than a name in the credits and is a recognizable face on social media or when making a cameo appearance. With behind-the-scenes content and episodic images, Dan and his social media team enjoy sharing an exclusive experience with fans, so be sure to follow them across all platforms and let them know you’re ready for several more seasons sailing along the Shores.