You’ve made a documentary about the biggest crisis in the life of the family that raised you. It debuts at Sundance and the first question from the audience is:
What inspired you to actually tell this story now?
I’m going to be fifty-seven this year, and I have begun to realize that in a big family, the events that happen are so much up to personal interpretation. My family’s history has a definitive demarcation point: the death of my father in 1967. So my personal history within the family history is far different than my older siblings who were in their teens and twenties when he died, compared to my mere five years. And as a result my relationship with my mother was far different, since while she was my parent, she was not defined within a marriage at the same time. My lens of viewing my mom was not ground from a vantage of having my dad at her side.
With only three of my siblings still alive and myself pushing sixty, I wanted to tell this story for my own children and how family dynamics and events can take individuals and mold their viewpoints and themselves in dramatically different ways, whether they are a child or a parent going through the same events.
Who funded this movie?
This movie was funded through a Kickstarter and the generosity of friends, as well as my own finances. Not unlike my wedding three decades ago, I wanted personal financial control over what was said and how the movie was presented.
How did you come up with the title?
The title “Make Room for Daddy” was inspired by all of those nuclear family comedies of the 1960s and 70s that showed perfect families who solved all of their minor life problems in thirty to sixty minutes. Those television shows fascinated me as a child, and in many ways, I yearned for that kind of family harmony after my dad passed away. The years after my dad passed were turbulent, and probably would have been better as inspiration for a daytime soap opera than a familial comedy.
I had a fairly happy childhood and was certainly well loved, but it was far from what was considered “normal” by the standards of the day. My mother was a single parent when it was not fashionable. As I grew older, I realized how brave she was, not letting the lack of a husband stopping her from doing things for herself and her children.
Have your parents seen it?
Both of my parents are now dead, but I think if my mom were still alive, she would really enjoy this film.
Thank you for your time and questions, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this documentary.