Roundtable Interview with Ronald Krauss
& Kathy Difore
Director of “Gimme Shelter” &
“Real-Life” Homeless Shelter Owner
, January 9, 2014
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen for “The
Presbyterian Outlook (to Kathy Difore):
I have a lot of personal identification with you, because my wife and I
were foster parents for newborns. We
had 27 of them.
Oh, my goodness. At the same
: No, over a period of several years
(everyone laughs). And so we worked
with adoption agencies and kept them anywhere from three days to eight months,
depending on how long it took them for the adoption process.
So the whole thing about treasuring the babies, and giving them a
nurturing place to be---that was something I identified with your work a lot,
and I applaud your work.
you. I think the whole key is love.
You can put that inside that baby from the first moment.
: Well, this was years ago, but a
strange thing has happened recently; a couple of them have come to see us, and
say “Thank you,” and to meet us as an adult.
It was amazing how much effect that initial love had on them.
: That little amount of care at that
critical point in their lives.
of us—those synapses are forming in our brains, so to trust another adult,
even when older, is based on that first two years.
So that first eight months you gave that child is like the foundation
of how much they trust somebody.
: Were the scenes in the home (in the movie) realistic?
of the babies were our babies. Four of the mothers were our mothers.
He (Ron Krauss, the Director) used our props, like at the Christmas
scene, just pulled them out of the closet.
Yes, four of the Moms in the movie with Vanessa (Hudgens) were actual
Moms from the shelter. And 23 babies.
: How did you do that as a Director?
complicated. (everyone laughs) But it
was always the intention to create the feel in this movie that it’s
realistic, like a documentary. I shot
the movie on Super 16, which nobody uses anymore---it’s like 70’s
documentary film footage. Today they
try to make it look as pretty as possible, and shoot it on super-high-def
video, and I went in the reverse. I
wasn’t sure it was going to work with “real” girls, who were non-actors,
but I had lived there for a year in the shelter, writing that script and
working with these girls, so I knew them pretty well.
And Vanessa came, and she lived in the shelter with these girls, for
about three weeks. And she transformed
into the character. So we were all like
a little family, and we were very familiar with each other.
One of the girls, Darleesha, was one of the girls who inspired me to
make this film. She had a life of
suffering and abuse---they don’t know anything else.
But the one thing these girls never had in their lives is opportunity.
And that’s the difference between them and someone else.
At the time we were filming, there was an economic recession in this
country, people were suffering, people finding themselves homeless and without
jobs, and the shelters were filling up with people who had done everything
right their whole lives, but now needing help to get off the streets and not
wear this badge of “homeless” which was embarrassing.
And that made this film even more important to me, not so much about
teenage pregnancy, but what the definition of “family” is today.
If you didn’t have the perfect “American Dream” family, people
felt like outcasts. I was trying to
show that no matter who you are or what your challenges are, don’t lose
hope. There’s somebody out there who
can help you in kindness and support and selflessness.
: Did you get to meet the real
RK: He’s a tough guy.
From the War (World War II). Some
of the language was still in there. He
was an old-timer. But he was guy who
helped get one of the shelters.
I ran out of beds in the shelter, he offered me the empty convent for $1 a
year. I can’t begin to tell you how
much I think of Monsignor McCarthy.
: What passage were you reading in that
chapel scene? I want to know---I asked
Vanessa and she didn’t know.
her hospital he was praying the St. Francis prayer,
: Yes, which is not scriptural---I’m
talking about in the chapel, that moment she changed.
don’t remember. I didn’t sleep last
night, I’m sorry. But I’ll get back
: Please do! …..Karen, how did you
decide to let Kevin into your shelter?
was in the area visiting his brother, and he just knocked on the door one day
and asked to do this film. After I met
with him about it, I decided I just needed to pray about it.
So I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me, and as I did, I kept hearing
the clock in the next room chiming every 15 minutes, and when it did, I kept
hearing “trust him”…..”trust him”……”trust him”…….I
finally said “OK, I trust you.”
felt like it would inspire other people to use shelters like hers, and save
those babies. Check out our website www.gimmeinspiration.com
to find out where other shelters are.
: Thank you both for your time.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,