The Fosters’ Peter Paige Talks Directing and What’s Ahead This Season

The Fosters
Freeform/Eric McCandless

One of television’s favorite families is finally back when the second half of The Fosters’ third season returns to Freeform on Monday night. Things kick off with “First Impressions,” written by series’ co-creators Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, and sees Callie (Maia Mitchell) now an official member of the Adams Foster family. As we glimpsed in our premiere preview, in order to avoid any more romantic feelings for brother Brandon (David Lambert), Callie is throwing herself into her “Fost and Found” app, while moms Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) deal with the arrival of Stef’s mom (guest star Annie Potts).

Not only did Paige co-write the premiere episode, but he once again stepped behind the camera to direct it. The TV Junkies recently caught up with him about that directing experience, and he offered up some thoughts about what fans can expect out of this season of The Fosters.

The TV Junkies: You directed the premiere episode and have directed several episodes in the past, but what’s that experience like?

Peter Paige: It is amazing and my favorite thing that I get to do. It makes me so happy to be in the trenches with the cast and see the scripts come to life. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Getting to shoot at Disney Hall was just unbelievable. It’s such a privilege to work with all of those people–they are so talented and so good. It’s like getting to ride thoroughbred horses. Also because I’m the boss everyone really ups their game. It’s the beginning of the season so everyone had energy and was excited to be back. It’s as good as it gets.

TTVJ: Some of my favorite scenes on the show are when everyone is together around the table and there’s one like that in a restaurant during the premiere. What are those like to direct?
PP: They are really fun and very challenging. They require a lot of preparation. Every scene requires preparation, but those scenes you have to really have to know what you want and how you’re going to get it done. We don’t have a lot of time to do it. We shoot the show in seven days which is a full day shorter than what most TV shows shoot. So you have to have a plan and you have to get it done.

We also don’t like the show to look like a conventional TV show. We don’t like it to look like every other show on TV. We like it to have a little more texture and a little more organic camera movement. I’m always telling our directors don’t just shoot everyone sitting down so we have to cut, cut, cut around the table. Find interesting, motivated ways to get people moving, to have people come by each other so we can do three or four lines of a scene in one shot. It starts to feel so flat when everyone is just sitting there.

Peter Paige (Director)
Peter Paige – credit: Freeform/Tony Rivetti

TTVJ: What are your favorite scenes to direct?
PP: It’s hard to say because I think you can find beautiful shots in every scene. I love shots that have great movement that take you from one actor or moment to another actor or moment. I don’t think it has to be a big action show or a big showy shot. The first shot in the premiere is incredible and like a feature film, but I don’t think things have to be like that to be really juicy and satisfying.

TTVJ: What kind of troubles will Brandon and Callie’s secret cause for them this season?
PP: A secret rarely stays a secret in Fosters-land but they are certainly trying. I think the first thing that happens is that they both realize that they need support and need people to talk to, and they can’t really be there for each other the way they used to. If they are going to move on and really become brother and sister, that’s going to require some help and that means involving other people a little bit and that’s a dangerous game.

TTVJ: Can they really ever move on from each other or will they always be pulled back to one another?
PP: I don’t know! It is as complicated a situation as any teenager could ever find him or herself in–being in love with someone into whose family you have been adopted. There are no easy answers and as you know with The Fosters we rarely are looking for easy answers anyways. Where it all ends up? I couldn’t tell you. We’re trying to honor the truth of the situation that they are in. We’re trying to really be true to what they are going through.

TTVJ: Now that Jesus (Noah Centineo) is back what will we see him getting up to and how excited were you to have that character to write for again?
PP: I’m so happy to have Jesus back and I think Noah is brilliant. It feels like we’re still honoring everything that Jesus has been through in the first couple seasons. He’s matured and it just feels like he’s a little bit older and wiser and been through more. Noah is a really fantastic actor–charming, funny, sexy, smart, kind. Jesus allows us to write some “bro-stories” that we don’t get to do with anybody else. He comes back to town and we know from the finale that he can’t go back to school, so we figure out what that’s about. Then I think the most interesting story he gets is that he decides to find his birth father. That’s a big story this season and a really controversial and interesting one.

TTVJ: What can we expect out of Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) this season?
PP: Mariana is in that junior year panic where she’s like ‘this is the year I have to get into college.’ We’re really exploring that enormous amount of stress and pressure that gets put on kids, and that kids put on themselves with some interesting results.


Are you excited for the return of The Fosters? What are you looking forward to the most? Sound off in the comments below!

The Fosters airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform and ABC Spark.