With production company Echobend Pictures on board, The Dirty Oyster is now officially open.
The Los Angeles-based ensemble – who are also behind upcoming Benedict Cumberbatch leads Morning, BirdsEye with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm breakout Maria Bakalova and Me, Myself & the Void – will take Noah Wagner’s magical realism- produce a romance novel that is currently in development.
“We think it falls into the rarest of all categories: the triple bullseye. It hits the heart, the mind and the soul,” said CEO Zubin Anklesaria. Julia Elaine Mills is producing.
The Dirty Oyster is scheduled to premiere at the Frontières Forum of the Fantasia Film Festival, which runs July 26-28 in parallel with the festival in Montreal.
Written by Michael Koehler, The Dirty Oyster follows a jaded investigative journalist who stumbles upon a mysterious forest restaurant. Apparently, consuming the cream of oyster soup reveals a person’s true love.
“At first glance, it actually exudes romance-comedy energy — there’s the cuteness, the coincidence, the hint of a happy ending.” But there’s also a dark side to the restaurant, the feeling that things are getting a little out of hand ‘ said Wagner diversity.
Following the short films Watch Room, also written by Koehler, and Fortissimo, The Dirty Oyster will be his feature film debut.
“As the night unfolds, our characters plummet down the rabbit hole into a sort of genre-bending fever dream that combines the tenderness of a love story, the whims of a fairy tale, the darkness of a horror film, and other resonant influences of many shades of love.”
Despite its mystical elements, the story is inspired by his own personal experiences, he admitted.
“It’s haunted me for almost 15 years after breaking up with the first girl I ever loved. For a long time I thought she might be the one who got away, and that made me wonder if the idea of ’the one’ could even be true,” he said.
“Since then, I’ve chosen to believe that the fairy tale exists. My writing partner and close friend Michael Koehler, on the other hand, is the pragmatist of my romantic, skeptical attitude toward our restaurant’s magic love potion. It is a dynamic that challenges us to hold two opposing ideas at the same time: magic is real, magic is an illusion. Maybe both are true.”
The place in question, a “warm and rustic” restaurant, will breathe new life into a repurposed watermill in the Maine woods, but — as Wagner teased — there’s more to it than meets the eye.
“There are vanishing doors, mysterious hallways, seedy sous chefs, and a cranberry bog as deep as an ocean. But it’s the main course that adds to the absurdity,” he enthuses.
“Actually, we consider the restaurant to be one of our main characters.”
There’s also the aforementioned journalist who stumbles upon it on his way to a wedding, and an idealistic architect who searches for it despite his engagement.
“‘The Dirty Oyster’ invites both of them to question their assumptions about love and explore how they might be getting in their own way.”
The film – “[one that] “Fusing the philosophical romance of ‘Before Sunrise,’ the whimsical magic of ‘Spirited Away’ and the absurd fever dream of ‘Alice in Wonderland,'” he adds — filming is slated for fall 2024.
“Ultimately, it’s an invitation for people to examine their own assumptions about love, whatever they may be. “In my case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that just a few weeks into writing this script, I met the true love of my life who I plan to marry in just a few months,” he confessed.
“I hope ‘The Dirty Oyster’ can help others manage their relationships the same way it helped me.”
“We all struggle with the universal search for the One, which means that not only does it have tremendous depth, but it also embodies a story with broad universal appeal. We believe it will be a unique viewing experience when it comes to theaters,” added Anklesaria.
“It corresponds to the phase of life in which our company finds itself. A phase characterized by growth, self-reflection and understanding.”
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