Dinh Thai directed what became the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale and has now returned for an emotional and action-packed episode. He chatted with Hidden Remote about returning to the series and preparing for the episode.
What an emotional episode of New Amsterdam it was! Max had to face the loss of Georgia all over again with that ambulance crash, a crash that should definitely have never happened. It was all because of cutting corners to become more competitive against the private ambulances, which says everything wrong about the American healthcare system.
Thai talked to us about the first episode he directed. It became the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale, although wasn’t originally supposed to be the finale. The pandemic led to some big changes and production shutdowns, and a lot of TV shows had to end abruptly with whatever episode they’d filmed last.
The new episode was a chance for Thai to show off his directorial skills once more. We’re certainly excited to see where he’s going.
Dinh Thai discusses returning to New Amsterdam
Hidden Remote: What was it like coming back to New Amsterdam to direct?
Dinh Thai: Returning to New Amsterdam felt like a homecoming. Michael Slovis, Peter Horton, and David Schulner were the ones who offered me my first opportunity in TV directing through NBCU’s Emerging Director Program. It’s a powerful experience to work with a familiar cast and crew who welcomed me with open arms, literally. When I visited the set during Darnell Martin’s episode, many of the cast and crew, specifically Jocko [Sims] and Ryan [Eggold], we gave each other big hugs. The Dam Fam is real!
HR: That was a very big moment to start the episode with the ambulance crash. Did you watch the Season 2 premiere to get a reminder of that ambulance crash since it connects to Max’s memories? How did you go about preparing for that?
Thai: Yes, I am very familiar with the Season 1 & 2 ambulance crash. Shaun Cassidy, the wonderfully talented writer of the episode, specifically points to the original ambulance crash. Michael Slovis, Luis Nieves [1st Assistant Director], Kevin Groff
, and Tony Romano [post-producer] coordinated the original crash footage to share with Ryan during his performance. [Editor] Shon Hedges pulled the individual moments to use in our episode. The whole team pitches in!
HR: We have all these emotional and personal moments throughout. It must be hard coming in for one episode without being a part of the full character development for each character. How did you go about preparing for each storyline?
Thai: I try my best to watch episodes and read scripts prior to working on the show. Then spending time with Shaun, we gradually have more and more conversations about the scenes and characters. In addition, the actors really know their characters, so I rely on asking them questions in hopes to discover something useful when we’re crafting the scene.
HR: Each episode brings up problems that are very real in today’s hospitals and medical care system. Do they affect the way you tell the stories on screen?
Thai: The writers, cast, and crew go far and beyond to research, prep, and execute the stories as close to reality as possible. As you know, with visual storytelling, sometimes we have to break reality for clarity’s sake.
As for the dispatch report/clipboard scenes, [Props Master] Kris Major and I had numerous conversations about whether or not the report was missing or ripped out. As minor as this detail is, I’m thankful for Kris’s insight and preparation. We had both options on set, which gave Ryan and choice during filming.
HR: You’ve done a couple of episodes of Wu-Tang: An American Saga. How do you go about preparing for different genres of TV?
Thai: Preparing for Wu-Tang was a lot of fun. I grew up with the music and am very familiar with the culture. So going back to old footage and articles was fascinating. It brought back a lot of great memories.
Regardless of genre, I try to dig into the humanity of the stories and characters. Whether it’s The RZA trying to break good or Max Goodwin fighting for his patients, they both have similar themes; to do what’s right while facing obstacles. As for the medical details in New Amsterdam, Lisa Wing and David Foster [medical advisor and doctor/writer] support the team with plenty of insight.
HR: Do you have any projects coming up that you’re able to talk about or that you can talk about?
Thai: Natalie Chaidez and I co-wrote a pilot for Freeform called AZNBBGRL. Fingers crossed the show gets to go. We’re really close. And we’re both very proud of the world and characters.
My award-winning short film MONDAY is in the early stages of development. Hope to find a supportive network to work with. I’d like to explore how two Asian American cousins on opposite sides of the law struggle to chase the American dream.
And I’m on a plane to Vancouver to work on The Good Doctor for ABC.
What did you think of the latest episode of New Amsterdam? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
New Amsterdam airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC. Watch the following day on Hulu.