everybody was inspired by these kids. I found it was the only way that I could really communicate to the kids. We just all banded together in a playful way.”
“Bob’s not afraid to express himself. If he feels happy, he will just jump around and start going crazy, being all goofy. If he’s sad, then he’ll tell you. Then we’ll make it up to him and then start being all goofy again,” explains Ryan Malgarini.
“He's a really fun director and just really outgoing. At one point, he was directing us swimming on his back in the water,” laughs Luke Benward. “If you need to talk to him about the scene, he'll just stop and answer all of your questions. He was really encouraging and helped me make it more energetic. He will also show us how to do it, he won't just tell us. He will just get up and go for it. It really helps us.”
“It's a true testament to Bob's leadership,” comments Kendra Benward. “He is not only a prince of a man, but as a director, he is a team player. There is no ego involved. He is so open to these kids and none of them feel intimidated to come to him. That's why he is getting the good stuff out of these kids because he is willing to take the time with them. Kids on film sets learn acting as they're doing it. They're professional actors, but they don't have 20 years of experience behind them, and Bob has really taken on that role to help teach them on this movie.”
“I very much believe in mentoring young people. I think it's great to be able to pass on your knowledge,” comments Dolman. “One of the great joys of working on this movie is that many of the kids in our young cast are interested in filmmaking. They wanted to see playback of takes and learn from the more experienced adult actors. I think some of them will go on to work in many capacities, including directing or producing or camera work. It was fun to show them how things worked and explain why we did it this way. They asked the camera people questions, they asked everyone in each department questions. I encouraged the kids, we all did.”
With the main kids signed on, the filmmakers turned their attention to casting the adults in the movie. The first order of business was finding the right pair of actors to play Billy’s parents. Tom Cavanagh was cast as his father Mitch, who has moved his family to a new town for his new job, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley plays Mitch’s wife, Helen.