Dinh Thai discusses directing the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale

NEW AMSTERDAM -- "Matter of Seconds" Episode 219 -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC)
NEW AMSTERDAM -- "Matter of Seconds" Episode 219 -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC) /

The New Amsterdam Season 2 finale was powerful and heartbreaking. Dinh Thai discusses directing the episode, including bringing focus to a business ED.

There is always a lot going on during any episode of New Amsterdam. The Season 2 finale felt much busier than usual, especially in the ED. Director Dinh Thai did a spectacular job, and now he breaks down his decisions in the finale.

Something that you won’t realize from just watching the episode is that this is Thai’s first major TV episode. He got the chance to direct the episode because of NBC’s Emerging Director Program, and he talks about that experience as well as about bringing some calm to otherwise busy moments.

Hidden Remote: Can you share just a little of what goes into planning for directing an episode of New Amsterdam in general? It’s such a fast-paced show and there’s always a lot going on at once.

More from NBC

Dinh Thai: I like to create overhead diagrams of each scene. It allows me to imagine the physical movement of characters and their emotional beats, which leads to me foreshadowing some directorial notes I may share with the cast and crew. The overheads also give me a chance to explore camera positions as well as contemplate how to properly capture a scene, especially ones with multiple storylines.

HR: What choices do you make when it comes to the slightly more amusing storylines compared to the more emotional episodes (such as the ED moments compared to the storyline involving the family with the small boy)?

Thai: In the ED, I staged the action with two layers; foreground and background. In the foreground, our main characters are talking, and in the background would be an impending action. Our camera was placed in a position to simultaneously capture the foreground dialogue with the incoming moment in the background. As the imminence occurs, the camera follows the action causing a much more chaotic sensation because we get to see story elements develop within one camera angle.

For the more emotional scenes, I kept the camera movement as subtle as possible, allowing for the actors’ performances to showcase the emotional arcs.

NEW AMSTERDAM — “Matter Of Seconds” Episode 219 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
NEW AMSTERDAM — “Matter Of Seconds” Episode 219 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC) /

HR: Is there a type of scene you preferred working on the most?

Thai: To be honest, I don’t have a preference. I gave each scene an equal share of love and respect. The ED scenes with multiple storylines were challenging but immensely gratifying to shoot. The conversations scenes gave us a chance to really find nuance in the actors’ performances.

HR: The ED scene is always so busy but New Amsterdam Season 2’s finale seems busier than normal. How do you manage to ensure there are those clear moments between characters and then the immediate need to help patients?

Thai: Our assistant directing team (Luis Nieves, Cat McFadyen, Amanda Cheng, Sabrina McClendon, Mike Sardiña, Erin Skelly) ensured our ED scenes were filled with background action and movement, which created that heightened sense of urgency. During rehearsal and in between takes, Janet Montgomery, Freema Agyeman, and Alejandro Hernandez (Bloom, Sharpe, Casey) finessed their performances, making sure each of their beats was clear and decisive.

Related Story. 30 most shocking TV exits of all time. light

HR: There were a lot of topics covered. Was there a part of the episode that stood out the most for you personally while directing?

Thai: Yes. The scenes between Sharpe, Oliver, and Lena (the Filipino couple played by Jojo Gonzalez and Pat Labez), really touched me. Aaron Ginsberg wrote those scenes with such heart, and the dialogue gave the actors a chance to live in the moment. So much so that during a read-through, not a rehearsal, many of us were brought to tears. And we were haunted by this aching in our hearts just thinking of their performances.

HR: You directed this episode as part of NBC’s Emerging Director Program. Can you share a little about that experience and what it means to you?

Thai: I am so honored to have been selected for NBC’s Emerging Director Program. Their team of staff, advisors, and leaders have helped me and a group of other emerging directors advance our careers. It’s only been with the help of NBC’s Emerging Director Program that I was able to have this directing opportunity. Our directing group has so much love and respect for the NBC team! They are really trailblazing diversity and inclusion.

NEW AMSTERDAM — “Matter Of Seconds” Episode 219 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
NEW AMSTERDAM — “Matter Of Seconds” Episode 219 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC) /

HR: I notice on IMDb that you’ve done shorts up to now. What are the differences between shorts and TV shows? And how did you overcome any (if there were some) obstacles?

Thai: I come from a commercial and promos background, which I consider my practice field for filmmaking. I was able to advance my storytelling skills and work up to writing and directing a short film called Monday.

Commercials also taught me the hierarchy of client, agency, and production company, which translates well into TV directing with the showrunner, writers, and executive producers. One significant difference in directing TV is the cast and crew are all professionals. Every single person on New Amsterdam is highly-skilled and proficient at their responsibilities.

HR: What are your dream projects moving forward?

Thai: I’m currently developing a TV show with showrunner/writer Natalie Chaidez. So that’s been a dream experience! I’m developing a show based on my short film. Can’t talk much more about that. We haven’t announced anything.

Lastly, this isn’t so much a project but more of a dream—I’d love to meet and chat with Steve Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, and Bong Joon-ho. Just putting that out into the universe!

dark. Next. Max Goodwin and the 5 TV doctors to consult on your next sick day

New Amsterdam Season 2 is currently available to stream on Hulu.