Director Sean Anders Reveals How Much of ‘Instant Family’ Is Based on His Own Life

     November 13, 2018

Damn, Instant Family. There was simply no way this heart-warming ‘family-is-what-you-make-it’ dramedy was going to get cynical, emotionless ol’ me… Heck, I can watch the opening of Up on a loop—and remain stone-faced. Pretty cold, right? But somehow Instant Family wormed its way into my heart, and by the third-act, I found myself dreading just how emotionally affecting the film was… Where usually this type of film feels manipulative and saccharine, Instant Family instead feels honest and lived-in. Perhaps this is because, it’s actually based on filmmaker Sean Anders’ own adoption story (he and his wife adopted three children, too). Because of this authenticity, the film isn’t afraid to tackle some pretty dark subject matters—the hardships of adoption, drug addiction, sexual abuse—making its inevitable feel-good ending all the more earned.

instant-family-posterIn the film, Mark Wahlberg & Rose Byrne star as Pete and Ellie Wagner, a couple who on a whim decide to adopt a trio of siblings, not realizing how hard it is to rear one child, let alone three. As Pete & Ellie deal with their wild new children, they begin to question if they’ve made the best or worst decision of their lives.

In the following interview with filmmaker Sean Anders, he discusses his own family’s reaction to seeing their lives portrayed on screen, how much of the film actually happened, and learning from his own parent’s child-rearing mistakes. For the full interview, watch above.

Sean Anders:

  • How did Sean Ander’s parents keep him in line?
  • Did he use his parent’s techniques after adopting three children?
  • What did he learn from his parent’s mistakes?
  • How much of Instant Family is based on his own experiences?
  • What was Ander’s family’s reaction to seeing the finished film?
  • Was it strange to show his family a movie that’s about them?

Here is the official synopsis for Instant Family:

When Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl (Isabela Moner), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must hilariously try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes of becoming a family. INSTANT FAMILY is inspired by the real events from the life of writer/director Sean Anders and also stars Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro and Margo Martindale.

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