Sea of Trees (film)

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The Sea of Trees
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Produced by
Written by Chris Sparling
Music by Mason Bates
Cinematography Kasper Tuxen
  • Netter Productions
  • Waypoint Entertainment
Release dates
  • May 2015 (2015-05) (Cannes)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]

The Sea of Trees is an upcoming American drama mystery film directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Chris Sparling. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts, Katie Aselton, and Jordan Gavaris.

The film is about an American man who attempts suicide in Japan's "Suicide Forest", where he meets a Japanese man there for the same reason. Principal photography began on July 28, 2014, in Foxborough, Massachusetts, with the production moving to Japan in September of the same year. It has been selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


A story about an American man who travels to the "Suicide Forest" (Aokigahara forest) to kill himself at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the site of numerous suicides. There he encounters a Japanese man, who wants to kill himself as well and then both men begin a journey of self-reflection and survival.[3]



Inside view of Suicide Forest in 2012

On December 5, 2013, it was announced that Gus Van Sant would be directing a suicide drama film The Sea of Trees about the "Suicide Forest" (Aokigahara) in Japan, based on the script of Chris Sparling.[3] Ken Watanabe was set to star for one of the lead roles in the film, producing by Gil Netter through his Netter Productions banner.[3] On February 4, 2014, Matthew McConaughey joined the cast of the film for the lead role.[4] On May 13, it was announced that Ken Kao would finance the film through his banner Waypoint Entertainment, and he also launched Bloom to handle the international sales for the film, which he would co-produce with Netter.[7] On May 15, Naomi Watts also joined the cast to star as a female lead in the $25–28 million budgeted film.[1] The film's international distribution was sold to different companies at 2014 Cannes Film Festival, which includes Entertainment One to handle the rights for UK, Australia and New Zealand, and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions to handle for Eastern Europe, Pan-Latin America and Scandinavia.[8] On August 15, Katie Aselton joined the cast to play a woman who has an affair with McConaughey's character.[5] On September 11, a first look image was revealed.[9] On September 30, it was announced that Jordan Gavaris was also added to the cast.[6]


On May 15, 2014, McConaughey and director Van Sant talked about the upcoming film which was officially slated to start on July 15, Van Sant said, "My latest feelings is to try to shoot in Japan, if it's too difficult, we would probably go to the northwest in the States, where the land is very similar."[10] The film's budget was set at $25 million with McConaughey receiving a $3.5 million salary. [11]

The principal photography of the film began on July 28, 2014, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.[12] The crews were filming deep in the woods in the F. Gilbert Hills State Forest, where they were also using the recreation hall and chapel at Cocasset River Recreation Area, which they scheduled to rent again on August 14.[13] Publicist Gregg Brilliant said, "The film makers looked at about half a dozen places around the country. The story takes place in Japan and the Northeast United States, and we chose Massachusetts. It's a beautiful location." [14]

The film shot in Massachusetts through September, followed by it moving to Japan.[14] The filming wrapped-up on September 30, 2014, in Massachusetts and Japan, with post-production began in Los Angeles.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Pamela, McClintock; Ford, Rebecca (May 15, 2014). "Cannes: Naomi Watts in Talks to Join Matthew McConaughey in Sea of Trees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d James, Silverwolfe (December 5, 2013). "Gus Van Sant & Ken Watanabe Journey to The Sea of Trees". The Tracking Board. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Borys, Kit (February 4, 2014). "Matthew McConaughey to Star in Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Kit, Borys; Siegel, Tatiana (August 15, 2014). "'League' Star Katie Aselton Joins Matthew McConaughey in 'Sea of Trees'". Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Ford, Rebecca (September 30, 2014). "'Orphan Black' Actor Jordan Gavaris Joins Matthew McConaughey in 'The Sea of Trees'". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 13, 2014). "Cannes: Bloom Takes Root With Matthew McConaughey Pic Sea Of Trees". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ramin, Setoodeh (May 21, 2014). "Matthew McConaughey Drama Lands Worldwide Distribution Deals". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ Vilkomerson, Sara (September 11, 2014). "Matthew McConaughey on Gus Van Sant's 'The Sea of Trees': 'It's one hell of a survival story'". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Ramin, Setoodeh (May 15, 2014). "Cannes: Matthew McConaughey Talks Sea of Trees with Gus Van Sant". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  11. ^ Bord, Christine (July 29, 2014). On Location Vacations title=Matthew McConaughey salary title=Matthew McConaughey salary. Retrieved July 30, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Bord, Christine (July 29, 2014). "Matthew McConaughey filming The Sea of Trees in Foxboro, MA". On Location Vacations. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ Allen, Paige (July 28, 2014). "Matthew McConaughey making movie in Foxboro". The Sun Chronicle. United Communications Corporation. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Matthew McConaughey filming The Sea of Trees in Foxborough". WHDH. Foxborough, Massachusetts: WorldNow. July 30, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (September 30, 2014). "‘Orphan Black’ Actor Jordan Gavaris Joins Matthew McConaughey in ‘Sea of Trees’". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 

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