Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sean Anders Interview: Instant Family Director

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of interviewing writer/director Sean Anders. Sean is best known for directing Daddy’s Home & Daddy’s Home 2. Hilarious family centered comedies. His new film, Instant Family, has a personal element for him as it is based upon his true life story.

I asked Mr. Anders, "Did you always want to be a director/writer?"

"No. I was always really obsessed with movies when I was younger, but where I came from that didn't seem like a possibility I think for a good part of my life. And then some friends of mine just got together to make a movie on some home video equipment and edited it on a laptop, this was a long time ago when that technology was pretty new. It was something I wanted to do after listening to commentary tracks on DVDs and we did it purely for fun and never had any dream or could have imagined that I would be here talking to you guys right now."

"Do you like writing more than directing?", I asked.

"No, I like them equally both for different reasons. Writing you can kind of hide from the world and just do your work and do it over and over before you bring it out. Directing is more trial by fire, you have to make your day and get through what you are doing."

So, this is Sean's third movie starring the great Mark Wahlberg. "Is there something specific about him that you find relatable to the characters you are writing about?"

"Yeah, Mark, as a giant movie star, when you know him and I think when you see him on screen, he never looses that kind of regular guy quality, I think. And that was important for this movie because such a huge part of the theme of this movie is just that we're not special, we're not the type of quote unquote special charitable couple that does something like this. We are just regular people and that accounts for a lot of the fear you have going in. I don't know if I am qualified to do this. So, Mark having that just regular guy quality is helpful, I think."

"Is there a funny story that you put in the film that you thought, yes, I have to share this with everyone?"

"When Pete, sees the speech from the young women and gets very excited about adopting and then Rose, and it had been her idea, now she is a little worried...that happened with my wife and I. At first, I was like, I don't know about this. It wasn't a speech, but it was going through the websites and doing some learning that I went back to her and got excited. I said, I think this is a cool idea, maybe we can do this. And she was like uh oh." We all chuckled on that one.

And of course we all wanted to know, "What do the kids think, sharing the story that it's based off of their story, did they have an trepidation?"

"No, I don't think they really had their heads wrapped around it in the beginning. I think they were excited as to how excited I was. And then, ya know, so much of film making is cryptic to them, but then when they were able to come to the set and meet the other kids, I think it dawned on them, oh this is about our life. There was one moment where we were shooting the orientation scene and we had all these extras there and all day long we were doing the scene over and over again with the social workers and my kids were there. I said to the room, if you go to a real orientation like this, this is what you get. And my kids were really excited to be around it."

"How old are they?"

"My oldest is 13, my daughter is 9 and youngest son just turned 8"

"Have they seen the movie?"

"Yeah, like nine times."

"Do they still feel the same about it?"

"They do, they love the movie".

With this being Sean's third family film in a row, I asked him if he thought he would continue to write in this direction, ride this wave?

He said, "I mean there is that old thing about write what you know and ya know, since I've had kids, I have sort of incorporated kids. Right now, we are sort of working on a few things and not all of them are family centric, but John and I sort of can't help ourselves, we sort of find the family themes in everything we work on. So, the short answer is, yes."

I know that I am looking forward to the next film. I thought Instant Family was an amazingly witty funny story, yet informative film. So, my last question to Sean Anders was, "For folks out there that are really thinking about fostering, don't feel that they are quite special enough, that walk away from the film thinking...oh maybe I can do this. Any advice that you want to give them?"

"Yeah, that it is not all going to be easy and fun. But, what I wanted to show with the movie that is very very true and real....Well, let me say this...there's that part in the orientation scene where Octavia is warning them that it isn't going to be easy folks and there is kind of that joke where the couple walks out, the system has a tendency to over warn people. And I think that the agencies and the people that work in the field, in general, could be better about warning people upfront about all the wonderful parts that are coming their way. And they do, they definitely tell you about that. And I think that they are afraid to kind of oversell that. But, I met a lot of families in this process and even the ones with the toughest stories to tell, they all have happy endings in the sense that they are glad that they did it, they love their kids more than anything and it has changed their lives in such wonderful ways. And my family, if you came to breakfast at my house, it could not be a more normal regular, just, we're just a family like anybody else's."

I had to ask..."So no one is eating potato chips for breakfast?"

"No," as he laughed. "Sure, we have issues with our kids, but so does everybody else. I guess, now that I think about it, this is how I should have answered our question...That whether you have biological kids or whether you adopt out of foster care, you're going to have hard times and you are going to have wonderful times and nobody should shy away from these kids who desperately need parents and homes and love because they're afraid of it. I've been making this joke, but it's true, that ...when someone gets pregnant and they tell everybody, "Hey,we're going to have a baby, no one says to them", in his valley-girl voice,"Oh my God that kid might become a drug dealer and steal your car." No one warns you about bad things when you have your own biological kids, but by the way, those things could happen. But, unfortunately, ...there's a stigma out there about foster care and people, a lot of times, have negative attitudes and that's a big reason why I wanted the movie to be joyous and to be a comedy is because I wanted people to be able to come see this movie and get a more complete picture and experience some of the joy and love that comes from it to, so that they won't only be focused on those darker parts."

Instant Family arrives in theaters this Friday, November 16th. It is a feel-good comedy for the family. For more information, read our review tomorrow.

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