BLOOM, Waypoint Entertainment and Netter Productions announced that two-time Oscar nominated director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) began principal photography on Sea of Trees. The film stars Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (Inception, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai) and two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible, 21 Grams, King Kong, Mulholland Dr.). Two-time Academy Award nominated producer Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side), Ken Kao (Rampart, Knight f Cups, Silence) and Kevin Halloran (Million Dollar Arm, Parental Guidance, Water for Elephants) are producing, based on the Black List script by Chris Sparling (Buried). F. Gary Gray, Brian Dobbins and Allen Fischer are also producers. The film will shoot on location in Massachusetts and in Japan.
Ken Kao and Alex Walton's international sales, production and financing company, BLOOM, launched and introduced Sea of Trees in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had virtually sold out the world.
Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) treks into Aokigahara, known as the Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur's will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife (Watts).
Joining director Gus Van Sant, the creative team includes editor Pietro Scalia who won Oscars for his work on both JFK and Black Hawk Down and was Oscar nominated for Good Will Hunting and Gladiator, Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (Beasts of the Southern Wild, HBO's True Detective), director of photography Kasper Tuxen (Beginners), Oscar nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up in the Air) and make up department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network).
Producer Ken Kao had this to say in a statement.
"We presented our buyers in Cannes with a timeline for Sea of Trees and are right on target to start production on this original and deeply moving story."
Alex Walton also offered his own statement.
"We've made tremendous strides in a very short period of time - first launching the company and then seeing vigorous sales on our first film as a new company in Cannes."