INTERVIEW: ‘Braking For Whales’ Director Sean McEwen on Working With Harry Potter’s Tom Felton
In an exclusive interview, we spoke with director, co-writer and co-producer Sean McEwen on working with Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) on upcoming film, Braking For Whales.
Available now for pre-order in the U.S. and set for U.S. digital release on April 29 (previously also set for theatrical release on this date), Braking For Whales stars Tom Felton, David Koechner, Tammin Sursok, Austin Swift and Wendi McLendon-Covey. The movie, fro Gravitas Ventures, is co-written by McEwen and Sursok, and produced by McEwen, Sursok and Cassidy Lunnen. The independent comedy/drama tells the story of two estranged siblings (Felton and Sursok) trying to fulfil their late mother’s final wish:
“Star and Brandon, estranged brother and sister, are brought together after their mother’s recent death and her absurd final request to dispose of her ashes in the body of a whale. With no choice or face losing their much-needed inheritance – they embark on a road trip to San Antonio, Texas where they not only encounter adventure, but also encounter each other.”
Sean McEwen spoke to us about working on the film as director, and his experience on set with Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton, commenting on the family dynamics of the movie, and Tom’s presence on set. The movie was shot in just 12 days (incredible!), and Tom’s performance left the cast and crew “awestruck”!
Leaky: Tell us what brought you to working on this movie?
McEwen: When I co-wrote the film with Tammin Sursok, it really started as an exploration of taking two characters – that for all intents and purposes – were somewhat unlikeable and by the end of the film, you actually cared for them. We wanted to put two distinctly different people, even if they were family (a brother and a sister) and present a situation that they were highly disconnected from themselves and each other – and through their journey, they learn connection.
Leaky: How was working with Tom Felton?
McEwen: I know as a director, when speaking about your film, one should say how wonderful each cast member was – but Tom truly was an absolutely gem. He embraced the character, was totally devoted. He was also completely along for the ride with this experience. Truly indie filmmaking at its most distinct. We shot the movie in 12 days – 12 days! And if it wasn’t for Tom’s professionalism, attitude and talent, it would never have turned out like it did.
Leaky: Were there any stand-out moments on set?
McEwen: I think the entire bar scene when Tom meets the character JT (played by an extraordinary young actor named Austin Swift). Everything that occurs there was written to be eviscerating and surprising and emotional – and Tom not only brought it but he made it his own and then some. The scene culminates with a heartbreaking moment of self realization in the restroom and I think Tom’s performance stands up with the greats. It left the entire crew that evening awestruck.
Leaky: The plot of the movie deals with an emotional topic, how did you go about creating that family dynamic?
McEwen: When making an indie film, many times you aren’t afforded the opportunity to bring the cast members together and let them bond for weeks. We literally threw Tom and Tammin together only a few days before the start of principal photography. So, due to the short runway of “getting to know each other time”, we truly leaned on the actors and their own abilities to connect with each other. And they did.
Fortunately, in the story, although the Star and Brandon characters are brother and sister, they don’t know each other very well. Again, they are disconnected. So we were able to use that reality and as Star and Brandon got to know and understand each other, in a way, Tom and Tammin were having the same experience off-camera.
Leaky: Do you have a favorite moment of the movie?
McEwen: I think the dinner scene with Brandon, Star, Aunt Jackie and Uncle Randal (Tom Felton, Tammin Sursok, Wendi McLendon-Covey and David Koechner). There is so much going on in that scene – familial speaking – and so much tension – but the actor’s performances are so darn funny. And the fact that it all essentially “de-volves” in to quite a touching and stinging scene makes it so special. Not to mention, behind the camera, seeing such a talented group of actors simply ply their proverbial trades and talents (improvising and riffing) in such a pitch-perfect manner was something priceless to have witnessed. Comic gold.
Look out for our review, coming soon, watch the trailer below, and preorder Braking For Whales here.
Many thanks to Darron and Sean for a brilliant interview!