5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Instant Family is inspired by the real events from the life of writer/director Sean Anders and his wife as they experience the ups and downs of becoming parents.
SD: Any hesitation on making a film based on your own personal experiences and sharing it with the world?
SA: Not really because from the beginning the idea was that we were going to tell a fictional story that was inspired by my own story, but also inspired by the stories of a lot of the people we met along the way. And the desire to bring this out into the light a little bit more definitely overshadowed any fear. Because there are some things in the movie that are inspired by my own life that I am not super proud of but feel okay about sharing those moments and being honest about those things.
SD: How did you go about writing yourself for Mark Wahlberg?
SA: I get that question a lot. The truth is that he really isn’t playing me. There is definitely elements of my wife and I in Mark and Rose in the movie, and they do an incredible job playing adopted parents, but I don’t really feel they were playing us. The crossover is that I wanted Mark’s character to be excitable. I get keyed up by things I am really into, but I also get very nervous and freaked out by things, so I wanted that to be in the character. And Mark is so funny when he’s doing that. But I don’t get up at 3:30 in the morning to work out.
SD: While making this film, did you learn anything new about yourself as a parent?
SA: Too many things to list. One thing I learned is that no matter how much I learned, I still make the same, dumb mistakes. No matter how much I am aware of them, I still do them over and over again. So, there is that. Also, I learned something that surprised me in that in the process of making this movie: I spent a lot of time talking to people about my family and talking about how much I love my kids, and I think that was really good for me as a dad. And I recommended it to people that if you can just get together with other parents and talk — have a little ‘I love my kids’ karaoke session and let them talk about why they love their kids so much — it really reinforces those things that we kind of forget in all the madness and all the mess and all the craziness of how much we love our kids.
SD: What is the message that you are hoping the audience members are going to take from your story?
SA: I think when people hear the words “foster care” it brings to mind a lot of negativity and fear. What I found, moving through the system over and over again, is that when you meet the kids you go, Oh there just kids who need families and they need love and that they have love to give too. I’m hoping that when people come see the movie they will see the same thing I saw.
SD: What advice do you have to share with other families starting or going through the foster care process?
SA: The thing that I always tell people is don’t make some big sweeping decision to adopt kids. We decided not to decide. We started by going to an orientation. After that, we will decide if we are still interested in it, if not, we will move on. While at the orientation, we learned we had to go through foster care parenting care classes. So, we thought we could handle 8 weeks of classes. We went to the classes thinking we don’t have to commit to anything just yet. After going through the entire process, we saved the decision for the end. My advice is that if you have an interest in it (adoption or foster care) it is really not that big of a commitment to just get involved.