Real people and real emotions
Behind the scenes, it was nerve-wracking to create the experiment with real families – and a gaggle of young children not used to the chaos of filming equipment, says Annie Saunders, the director and moderator, who spoke to each of the 13 families over the phone the night before. That morning Saunders welcomed them to a living room style setup and encouraged them to explain what it’s like to be part of their family. Later, the families were asked to walk the room in choreographed movements – hugging, shaking hands or dancing around together. In between takes, kids snacked or took advantage of a toy-filled green room.
Hours later, strangers were slowly turning into friends.
“We’ve been admiring the room and how much warmth is in it,” says a 38-year-old mother of a toddler from Oak Park, Illinois who took part in the shoot with her husband and toddler son.
“There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of energy,” added a 40-year-old father from Chicago’s Orland Park suburb, who attended with his husband and toddler daughter. “There’s a lot of good interaction between strangers that we didn’t expect to happen.”
Ultimately, spending a rainy summer Saturday with perfect strangers was worth it, says one 32-year-old, stay-at-home mother who is part of a two-mom household and joined with her 10-month-old son who was sleeping in her arms. “It was an emotional experience to see how people chose the supposed families,” she says. “As people, we often judge, but sometimes the truth is the complete opposite.”