One of the more serious lines that stood out is when Dr. McCarthy says to Kyle, “Just because you’re hurt, doesn’t mean you’re broken.” Would you say that summarizes Dolphin Tale pretty well?

You know, it really does. It does. I think that’s one of the lines that I hope people take away from this film and remember that . . . because it’s important, you know. I think there are a lot of nice messages in here . . . and certainly you know the idea that we all have a certain obligation to the planet. And I was very moved working on a film by being around these people at the marine hospital whose lives are dedicated to rescuing animals, rehabbing them and releasing them to the wild. It’s great work. I loved being able to make a movie to call attention to that.

I visited the film set at the tail end of your production last fall, and a term that kept coming up was “wounded healer.” Winter was wounded physically while Sawyer was wounded emotionally, yet they reached out and helped one another. That's a great message.

It absolutely is, and that’s one of the things I wanted in this film. Every character . . . they’re all, forgive the expression, but they’re all kind of missing some pieces, you know? Whether it’s an emotional thing, Sawyer’s father, Hazel’s mom, and the way Kyle becomes injured . . . they’re all fighting and we all have obstacles. And that’s one of the things that one can take away from this film is that Winter sort of never gives up. And you know we can learn a lot from that and about courage and also about the fact that we’re all in this together, and it’s by helping to heal her that [the characters] all heal themselves.

I loved the inclusion of the footage during the end credits of real-life visitors who have come to see Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Why are those images so powerful for people to see?

I hope it helps to hit home that this is real. This is a true story. This really did happen and although there are a lot of cute characters and Rufus and so on—of course they’re fictional—the core of what happened to Winter is true. You know they’re people who . . . just like the little girl in the wheelchair in the film and Kyle’s character, how they are moved and inspired. And this happens every day at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and you can see it in the film.

Now that you're done making Dolphin Tale, how hard would you say was it to make a film that appeals to both children and adults?

It’s tricky. We have to be careful about tone a bit, and I was always maybe a little concerned that the Kyle subplot might be a little challenging for kids. But it doesn’t seem to be. Children are a lot brighter and have better attention spans, as long as you tell a story well and tell it honestly. So I think it’s possible to do that, certainly.

Thankfully you didn’t go the potty humor route which I know a lot of parents will be thankful for. Was that intentional?

That’s the kind of humor I don’t care for. I wanted to keep it seeming like real kids that act like real kids . . . sometimes a little petulant, sometimes a little goofy or a little hyper. I wanted to make them feel like real kids, and that was always my goal.