How Hallmark Favorite Tyler Hynes Is Celebrating Women — and His Mom! — with New Movie “Shifting Gears” (Exclusive)

The movie, premiering Saturday, is the first film in the network's Make Her Mark Women's Directing Program

<p>Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media</p> Tyler Hynes in Hallmark Channel

Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media

Tyler Hynes in Hallmark Channel's 'Shifting Gears'

For Tyler Hynes, Shifting Gears, his latest Hallmark Channel movie, is a special one for several reasons — and they all have to do with supporting women.

The movie, directed by Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe and premiering Saturday, is the first film in Hallmark's Make Her Mark Women's Directing Program, a mentorship initiative intended to create opportunities for more women behind the camera. The program was conceived by actress Ashley Williams, who was key in getting Hynes on board.

"It was everything. It's the reason why I signed onto the movie," Hynes tells PEOPLE of the Make Her Mark program. "Ashley and I were at a dinner a year or so prior and I was talking about how Kimberly Sustad wanted to shadow [the director] on Three Wise Men and a Baby [which Sustad also co-wrote with Paul Campbell], and for logistical reasons that didn't end up materializing.

"I was expressing my disappointment in the fact that she didn't get that opportunity, and Ashley was like, 'Well, I think I have a solution, and would you be willing?' And I said, 'Certainly,'" he continues. "I can't think of a better reason to do one of these movies than for that. These movies are made primarily for women, and I think what a correct place to be doing this."

<p>Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media</p> Tyler Hynes and 'Shifting Gears' director Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe

Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media

Tyler Hynes and 'Shifting Gears' director Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe

Related: A History of Female Best Director Nominees at the Academy Awards

The film, which also stars Katherine Barrell, also marked the first time Hynes' mother, Betty, visited the set of one of his films in nearly 20 years — and his nieces, Ella and Haylie, make a cameo.

Below, the actor, 37, shares his experience on Shifting Gears, from those set visitors to having to perform choreography again after that viral dance in 2022's Three Wise Men and a Baby.

This movie follows a pair of exes who participate in a car restoration reality competition show. I know you ride motorcycles—which your character also does in this movie—but had you ever worked on cars?

Never. My very first car was a '76 Chevy Nova, which was similar to the one that was my car in the movie. But no, definitely my two brain cells aren't strong enough to handle any sort of mechanical intelligence. One brain cell is dedicated to standing on my mark, and then the other brain cell is dedicated to my lines, and that's all that they can handle. Any more, they're going to go on strike.

<p>Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media</p> Tyler Hynes in Hallmark Channel's 'Shifting Gears'

Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media

Tyler Hynes in Hallmark Channel's 'Shifting Gears'

Then how did you do the rollerskating scene?

Oh, I took the one that usually does the mark — there's no more marks — and I put him on rollerskates, and he figured it out that day, because I had never roller-skated before. Kat had rented skates prior, like a smart person does. I didn't and put them on and started wobbling around and came up with a dance routine that we hadn't choreographed. And then we shot the thing immediately.

But you can ice skate, right?

Even that, I'm not a real Canadian. I don't play hockey. I am a skateboarder. I grew up skateboarding. I couldn't afford hockey equipment, is the actual truth of it ... so I never played hockey. I can ice skate. I'm not the best stopper. I'm like Zoolander. I'm not an ambi-turner. I can't stop two ways, only one way. And for the most part, I usually just use the boards to stop me. So it wasn't like I was teed up into some great situation going into a rollerskating scene.

Related: Paul Campbell Says Tyler Hynes Is a 'Natural-Born Baby Whisperer' in 'Three Wise Men and a Baby'

How did Crystal, as a first-time director, handle that on-the-fly choreography experience?

A lot of that stuff we were sort of coming up with, and Crystal was watching and filming, and she was just the best audience ever. So I could just sort of go off of her giggles and her reactions, what was working and what wasn't. And Kat was new to rollerskating herself, and she had found out that she was with child. So she was going through the rigors of early pregnancy as well as having a pretty full-blown cold. A lot of people were getting sick. So what you see there is the best I could do and I apologize.

There were some repeated moves from Three Wise Men that I noticed. I'm sure the fans will love it.

I don't have that many moves. I told you, the brain cells are already overtaxed as it is.

<p>Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media</p> Tyler Hynes and Katherine Barrell in Hallmark Channel's 'Shifting Gears'

Albert Camicioli/Hallmark Media

Tyler Hynes and Katherine Barrell in Hallmark Channel's 'Shifting Gears'

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I know you had your mom on set. Why was this the right movie to bring her along?

Because it was in Ottawa, her hometown. And certainly, she would've murdered me if I said no to this movie. She has access to my emails. This is how she keeps up on what's going on. And so she saw the offer come in even before I did. She was already in my text messages going, "This is really good. You should do this." But yeah, that was obviously a huge bonus. And she told me that she was going to give me some time to get comfortable with everybody, and then check if it's time to come. But immediately. I walk off set, and there she is behind the monitors, already introduced to everybody. "Mom, what are you doing?"

She's like, "I live 30 minutes from here. I just can't not be here right now." I was like, "You can do whatever you want." And so she became a staple behind the monitors, just illegally filming all the scenes and having a blast. And it was the best. She was putting herself in my eye line behind other actors that I was acting with and just being right off beside their faces. I was like, "Mom, come on."

When was the last time she came to set with you?

It was I think like 15, 20 years. And she sacrificed a lot. Everything. I wouldn't be here without her. ... Bringing me to auditions, coming with me to set. I was doing theater when I was young, touring the country, and she was traveling with me. Like, this is a huge sacrifice for a grown woman to make. and I'll forever be indebted to her. So she can stand behind anybody while I'm acting with them, as awkward as that might be. And she could stand behind any monitor that she likes, because she's certainly earned it.

Speaking of family, you had your nieces in one scene! How was that?

They showed up and openly expressed that they weren't that impressed with what I was doing, and that they would quite easily be able to pull this off. And I said, "Prove it. Go ahead. Let's see it. Put your money where your mouth is." They came on set and got in front of the camera and it got quiet, and I saw them get a little bit nervous. But then I saw them overcome it and they did amazing. And then they were proud and I showed them the clip, and then they started fighting each other because one of them was upstaging the other. "You were blocking me," this kind of stuff. And I was like, "This is how it happens. Family turns to enemies in Hollywood. That's showbiz, baby."

This movie seems like it was a special experience for you.

Yeah. I'm very, very grateful to have had that experience. It's funny because I keep making these movies and somehow it keeps being exciting and fresh for different reasons. Make Her Mark. My mother being able to come. And the main one being this ongoing conversation with the audiences who watch. I'm really grateful and surprised by how it constantly is renewing itself for different reasons, to making each experience unique and beautiful in its own way.

Related: Alison Sweeney and Victor Webster Sip and Sizzle in Hallmark's New Hannah Swensen Movie First Look (Exclusive)

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Shifting Gears premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.

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