The plot focuses on Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) who treks into Aokigahara, known as the 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).
The producers of The Sea of Trees are Gil Netter, nominated for Oscars for Life of Pi, based on the Canadian novel, and The Blind Side, Ken Kao (The Nice Guys, Silence, Rampart, Knight of Cups), Kevin Halloran (Million Dollar Arm, Parental Guidance, Water For Elephants). Also producing are F. Gary Gray, Brian Dobbins, Allen Fischer and Chris Sparling, based on the original screenplay written by Chris Sparling (Buried).
Alex Walton and Ken Kao’s international sales, production and financing company, Bloom, launched and introduced The Sea of Trees to buyers in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had virtually sold out the world. Postproduction work is now underway in Los Angeles.
The Sea of Trees was filmed on location in the Kanto region of Japan, including Tokyo, Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures as well as within Aokigahara (aka The Sea of Trees) located at the foothills of Mt. Fuji in Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture.
Principal photography commenced in Massachusetts in late July on location in the aptly named Purgatory Chasm as well as in Ashland State Park, Blackstone State Park, Douglas State Park, F. Gilbert Hills State Park and the Worcester area. Additional locations included Clark University, Worcester Municipal Airport and One Exchange Place, where the film’s production office was also based. The City of Worcester’s Cultural Development Office, Worcester Police Department, Department of public works and Business Assistance provided local location support for the production.
Gus Van Sant’s creative team on The Sea of Trees includes editor Pietro Scalia who garnered Oscars for JFK and Black Hawk Down and was nominated for Good Will Hunting and Gladiator; director of photography Kasper Tuxen (Beginners); Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (Beasts of the Southern Wild, HBO’s True Detective); Oscar nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up In The Air) and makeup department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network). The music supervisor for The Sea of Trees is KCRW’s twice Grammy nominated Chris Douridas known in the motion picture industry for his work on Grosse Point Blank, American Beauty, As Good As It Gets, Heat, One Hour Photo, Down With Love, The Girl Next Door, The Chumscrubber, Northern Exposure, Shrek 2, the Austin Powers series and upcoming, Ride.
No release date has been set for The Sea of Trees.