YYC’s Spencer Foley to attend screening of his first feature-length film

British Columbia sets the scene for When the Ocean Met the Sky, a Canadian film that follows the spiritual and physical journey of three brothers after the passing of their parents.

Spencer Foley, from Calgary, plays the character Tyler Holmes. He began writing the film’s script with his friend and co-star Phillip Thomas in 2012.

Foley says that he and Thomas wanted to create a film that explored the complicated dynamics between siblings.

“We all have siblings and it’s something everyone can relate to,” says Foley. He adds that the brothers losing their parents at the beginning of the film is critical to the plot as it forces the siblings to face issues that had otherwise been internalized.

“I think each of the brothers are coming of age,” says Foley, “but they are just at different places in their lives.”

Lukas Huffman, director and co-writer, says the film makes audience members reflect on their own family dynamics.

“They come away from the film and ideally either celebrate the positive relationships they’ve had with their family, or they evaluate whether certain tenuous relationships could be better,” says Huffman.

As the film will be screening as part of the Calgary International Film Festival – or CIFF – Foley’s own friends and family will be coming out to view the film.

“I’m really nervous about it,” says Foley. “It’s really tough when people you know are watching you on screen because it takes them a while to see the movie as a story instead of as the person they know on screen.”
From left to right: Phillip Thomas, Terry Field, Spencer Foley and Aren Bucholz The cast and crew of “When the Ocean Met the Sky”  began filming in Tofino, British Columbia, and finished in Vancouver.

Photo courtesy of Geoff Webb

Foley moved to Victoria from Calgary to attend university after graduating from E.P. Scarlet in 2008. He initially majored in economics but soon realized that was not the direction he wanted to go.

Foley chose to pursue a career that inspired him and enrolled himself in the Pacific Film and New Media Academy in Victoria. While Foley says he was not a fan of the school as a whole, he was particularly influenced by one of his drama teachers – Jason Stevens.

“He taught me to be an artist and to not be afraid to call myself an artist,” says Foley.

Stevens appears in When the Ocean Met the Sky as a lawyer who informs the brothers of their parent’s final wishes. Stevens says that the best part of the filming experience was working with his students as colleagues.

“It was a fun and proud moment,” says Stevens.

When asked what it was like to watch Foley grow from a drama student to starring in his first feature film, Stevens says that: “Spencer has a combination of talents that’s unique. Not only is he a talented performer, he’s got drive and determination that many actors don’t have. But Spencer is also a writer – he developed his scene writing skills studying movement psychology with me and I think that’s the secret sauce.”

It was also while attending acting school that Foley met Phillip Thomas; co-writer, actor and producer.

“The filming process was crazy,” says Thomas.

The initial budget number for the film was $30,000, which is what When the Ocean Met the Sky went into production with. Post-production funding was sourced through a Kickstarter page. Between the Kickstarter funds and private investments, the film’s funding ended up being $85,000 – which Thomas says was significantly more than what they had anticipated.

“We were constantly adjusting our budget on the fly because we didn’t know what our final budget number would be, nor did we want to limit ourselves,” says Thomas.

Working on a tight budget sometimes also meant adjusting the filming schedule since no days could be wasted – even if the B.C weather did not always cooperate.

“We ended up writing rain into the story at the end of act two,” says Huffman. He adds that if the crew woke up and it was raining they would shoot scenes that made sense with the drizzly weather.

“It was mind bending to try and juggle the schedule,” says Huffman. “I was fighting it for a while, but then I was like: ‘Well, that’s whats happening so let’s try and own it.’ I think we did a good job of doing that intelligently.”
Spencer Foley is a Calgary native who chose to pursue his love of writing and acting instead of following his initial career path in economics.

Photo courtesy of Geoff Webb

Foley says that the most memorable moments for him while filming – not including being soaking wet for 15 days straight – was during the after party.

“We were taking everything in and the crew was talking about their experiences,” says Foley. “For me, someone who was there from the beginning, it was cool to see how close I got with people who used to be strangers.”

When the Ocean Met the Sky will be screening September 26 and 27 at the Globe Cinema.
scomber@cjournal.ca