Tom Felton and Tammin Sursok on Making ‘Braking for Whales’ Like “A Band of Pirates”

     July 1, 2020

Let’s not beat around the bush here; odds are, you’re very familiar with Tom Felton from the Harry Potter film franchise and you know of Tammin Sursok’s work in the hit series Pretty Little Liars. Both are great, but if you’re not aware of what they’re up to beyond those claims to fame, you’re missing out.

Sursok has kept especially busy behind the lens, developing projects with her writer-director husband, Sean McEwen, and their latest collaboration was recently made available to watch on VOD, a movie called Braking for Whales. Sursok stars alongside Felton as Star and Brandon, respectively. They’re siblings who couldn’t be more different, but when their mom passes, they’re forced to come together to fulfill her dying wish – to put her ashes inside her favorite animal, a whale.


Image via Gravitas Ventures

It’s a unique story loaded with production challenges like an especially short shooting schedule, a wide range of tone, the need to film with real otters, and more. How’d they manage to get it all done? For Felton, it made all the difference feeling like he was part of a team:

“It worked so well because, you know, in certain scenarios – and I’m sure, T, you can attest to this working on Pretty Little Liars for so long – it’s like you’re needed for this moment and then you’ve got a certain amount of hours, a certain amount of scenes and then you’re gone. You’re not really kind of part of a team in the sense that we were on this film because, it was like, if you go an extra hour or you have to drive another extra mile or you have to do something different to try and change … everyone felt like a very cohesive [team]. It’s kind of one of the first experiences I’ve had on a project like that because it had such limited time and a limited crew. But it made all the difference. I think that’s what shone through in the performances in a way, is that we were kind of a band of pirates really trying to make a very ambitious movie in not a lot of time.”

If you’d like to hear more about Felton and Sursok’s experience making Braking for Whales, we’ve got you covered in the video at the top of this article! Check it out to hear about what inspired the story, what wound up being some of the most challenging scenes to shoot, how making Braking for Whales influenced Sursok’s personal goals as a budding director, and more!

braking-for-whales-posterTammi Sursok and Tom Felton:

  • 00:40 – Sursok wrote the script with her husband; what sparked the idea?
  • 02:08 – After finishing the script, what was the key to getting the green light?
  • 03:45 – Did Sursok and Felton know each before making this movie?
  • 05:15 – This was a very short shoot; did they have any rehearsal time?
  • 06:40 – What was the shooting schedule like?
  • 09:15 – One of the most challenging scenes to get done and how they made it work.
  • 12:23 – Felton talks about what it’s like working on such a small set; his appreciation for the camera department.
  • 13:41 – What scene was the most intimidating?
  • 16:35 – What it’s like working with otters.
  • 18:39 – How do they figure out how big to go with the comedy; Sursok’s experience being directed by her husband.
  • 22:35 – Do either of them collect anything; Felton shows off his guitar collection.
  • 23:23 – What did Sursok learn from McEwen as a director on this film that she’ll take on to her own sets as a director?

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