A Glendale Community College instructor and his wife, who have adopted six children, have turned the love and chaos of their family life into that most American of pursuits: reality television.
High school sweethearts from Illinois, Ryun Hovind and MeLisa Lomelino married in 1997 and made a pact not to have children of their own, but to open their home to others who weren’t fortunate enough to have a family.
“This is a way to totally transform someone's life,” Hovind said.
Now in their mid-30s, Hovind and Lomelino reside in Los Angeles with their current family of four children between 10 and 16 years old. The two oldest, 18- and 21-year-old young men, are now living on their own.
Hovind works as an adjunct instructor in the college’s media arts department. He is often found in the production studio and equipment room, wearing black framed glasses and surrounded by audio and video equipment. The office is a madhouse of buttons, switches, knobs and cameras.
Hovind and Lomelino recently transformed the chaos of their home life into their own media arts project.
“Drive Us Crazy” is a self-produced show about their family life. After months of filming, a two-minute trailer was posted to YouTube as well as to their website. He said the site has received more than a million views, 800,000 on the first day.
“We’ve always enjoyed making TV,” Hovind said, who is pitching the idea to network television producers. “The kids love it. The enjoyment most people get out of consuming entertainment is the enjoyment we get out of creating entertainment.”
He said he and his wife enjoyed the initial project so much, they decided to produce a web series, releasing an episode each Sunday on YouTube. They handle all the camera work and post production themselves.
“Our kids grew up in front of the camera so they’re kind of used to it by now,” said Lomelino.
The series features the family on a daily car ride to various destinations. A camera is rigged on the dashboard in the family’s mini van. Lomelino said that the content of the show is “100 percent” real. Episodes show everyday life with kids in tow, making a trip to the salon or the supermarket quite an ordeal.
While Hovind is at the office, Lomelino works in television and film as a freelance screenwriter.
Lomelino, who graduated from Columbia College Hollywood, said making the transition from feature to short film was quite challenging. The balance of making the TV show and raising a family can be tough.
“Ryun calls me the CEO of our family,” Lomelino said.
The couple promotes themselves through the use of social media. Twitter is a popular choice for them and they have multiple retweets from Hollywood celebrities. Hovind said Savannah, the oldest of the kids still living at home, helps them out with the Instagram page they set up to promote the show.
Though a house full of kids is often hectic, Hovind and Lomelino never regret their decision.
“Love makes family,” said Hovind. “It’s not about blood.”
--Jonathan Williams is a freelance writer.