Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 22, 2012.

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Two Ex-Pat Kindergarten teachers in Taiwan embark on a quixotic odyssey to bury a fellow countryman.

                                               A Jarrett Bros. Picture

                   Starring: Billy Harvey, Jeff Palmiotti and Leonora Moore

Production of The Taiwan Oyster began in 2010 with a large part of our funds coming from the initial $15,194 raised here on Kickstarter.  At that time, Kickstarter and crowd funding in general were still fledgling ideas. Since then, we have shot on location in Taiwan, cut, scored, soundtracked and mastered the entire film.  We have now begun our film festival run which kicked off at our World Premiere at SXSW (ranked by Indiewire magazine as the 4th best film fest in the world!).  We have also had the privilege of showing the film to the Taiwanese and Taiwan expat community at the 12th annual Urban Nomad festival in Taipei. The film has been very well received by all that have had the opportunity to see it thus far and we expect a great reception from the rest of our upcoming festivals. 

In other words, the Kickstarter community backed us and we followed through! Thanks a million! We could not have done it without you!

Now, we are once again turning to Kickstarter to help us secure full rights to all the music in the film. Although this Kickstarter drive is dog-eared for music rights, any contributions raised over our goal of $6,000 will go directly to our much needed Film Festival Budget (explained later).

Currently we have the funds to pay for all the Film 'Festival' rights to the music, but we still need $6,000 more to pay for the 'broad' distribution rights to the music in the film. These are the rights which allow for DVD, digital downloads and screening the film in Theaters. 

For those of you that have already seen The Taiwan Oyster at one of our film festival screenings, these rights will secure that the film you see maintains the same artistic integrity in the future as it held when you saw it the first time.  For those of you yet to see the film, these are the rights needed for you to see The Taiwan Oyster at all.  The music rights are essential for us to be able to showthe film in any medium outside of a film festival scenario.

If you have ever wanted to be involved (or more involved) in the film industry and haven't had the chance, now is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge. Please help us to bring The Taiwan Oyster to a Theater / TV / Computer / Smart phone near you!

And now a little about the picture:

Poster design by Chris Bilheimer
Poster design by Chris Bilheimer

Brief Summary

After the tragic death of a newly arrived Ex-pat, ESL kindergarten teachers Simon and Darin steal the corpse in order to perform the final rites for the fallen stranger. Their quest for the perfect burial spot becomes a quixotic odyssey along Taiwan’s picturesque East Coast Highway, where they encounter welcoming families, personal demons, and Nikita, their traveling companion. The duty, transport, and dementia fueled by frequent substance abuse, ignites an internalization in all three characters as they define their personal feelings concerning mortality, purpose, burial rites and the concept of legacy.

The film addresses the universal questions that arise when one is confronted with an untimely death, explores the unique cultures of Taiwan, and probes a Southeast Asian Ex-pat experience.

Why Taiwan?

After earning a BA from the University of Georgia (Athens), director Mark Jarrett moved to Taichung, Taiwan where he taught English for 3 years. While in Taiwan, Mark co-founded (w/ writer Rob Adams) a literary zine actually called "The Taiwan Oyster." Mark returned to the U.S. in 2001 and began working in the film industry. Producer, Mitchell Jarrett first visited Taiwan in 2000. Both, having established lifelong friendships on the island, have since been back to travel and visit on many subsequent trips. 

THE TAIWAN OYSTER is set at the turn of the Millennium (March 2000), thirteen years from the lifting of Marshall law rule. At the time, the Republic of China (ROC) was still developing its identity and a democratic government. Gangsters had strongholds on some of the outlying townships. Referred to by many as the “Wild, Wild East,” Taiwan in Y2K could be an unruly place, especially for wai guo rens (foreigners/outsiders). A perfect time and place to set a road picture where two friends come to terms with their own concepts of death while searching for a serene place to lay the body of a fallen countryman to rest.

Where Are We Now?

THE TAIWAN OYSTER is now amidst our film festival run.  The film festivals are marketplaces for companies that distribute films. In order for a film to be seen in theaters, DVD, VOD, Digital download etc. the film must be purchased by a distributor. These distributors will first need to see and like the film at key festivals; then observe audience and media reaction to the screenings. We have been advised that its of the utmost importance for the filmmakers to be present at the fests we are invited to because artists' attendance helps generate buzz around the film, thus filling the seats. And as we mentioned, full seats lead to interest by distribution companies.  However, attending and successfully marketing the film at these festivals is extremely expensive (PR firms alone can charge up to 10k per festival!) So, any contributions raised over our goal of $6000 will go directly to our film festival promotions and travel budget.

Mitchell and Mark with Thomas (The Taiwan Oyster's 2nd AD) during a Q&A at the 12th Annual Urban Nomad Film Festival in Taipei, Taiwan
Mitchell and Mark with Thomas (The Taiwan Oyster's 2nd AD) during a Q&A at the 12th Annual Urban Nomad Film Festival in Taipei, Taiwan

Any film coming to life is a bit of a miracle. The time necessary to develop, fund, film, edit, market, and distribute a project is vast. The number of people needed to help properly capture the vision is uncountable. However, the joy in bringing the fruits of immense hard work to a larger viewing audience is irreplaceable. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

THE TAIWAN OYSTER
THE TAIWAN OYSTER
Read our Variety Review
Read our Variety Review
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Friend Us!

Full list of cast and crew is available at our online Press Kit 

Check out the Making of The Taiwan Oyster blog!

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

Mark Jarrett- 3/15/12

Since experiencing a 7.8 magnitude earthquake there early in the morning on September 21st, 1999, Taiwan has been tattooed on my psyche.  For years it's served as my band camp, boot camp, and romantic Neverland.


I thought about setting a script on the island for quite some time, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007, as I began reading As I Lay Dying while attending my elder brother's wedding in Piedras Negras, Mexico, that I actually set about writing it. Moved by the themes, humor and language in the Faulkner novel, I started incubating a loose idea about a road film set in Taiwan that touched on similar ideas of land, blood, place, and disappointment.


I contacted writing partner Jordan Heimer and we got to work on outlining a story. In the early stages, we modeled the character arcs on those of Henry IV parts I and II (in particular, Falstaff and Prince Hal).  However, as our characters Simon and Darin took form (during a week's sabbatical in Culebra, Puerto Rico, in which we angered our girlfriends by our constant character debates, overall drunkenness, and gratuitous backgammon play), we moved further and further away from the Shakespearian seed.


My brother Mitchell (who also spent time in Taiwan) joined our writing team shortly after we returned from Puerto Rico. Mitch and I had lost two first cousins (both under the age of 25) in the span of a year, so death was close and present in both of our lives at the time.  As a result, we knew we wanted ruminations on untimely death to play a central, driving theme in the story.


The final polishes on the script came after Mitch and I visited Taiwan during the Spring of 2010 for a location scout.  He and I rented a small blue truck and drove around the island, scouting locations and using the truck's covered bed as a “tent.”  Besieged by visits from angry ghosts (that must have attached to us during our morgue scouts), but welcomed by everyone else we came across, our last observations were made and put to paper.


Micro(scopic) budget productions are nothing new, given the recent advances in technology. This past fall, upon hearing about our filmmaking process in Taiwan, a friend commented over soup dumplings, "So… what you guys are doing is like the Punk Rock version of filmmaking."  His statement, I feel, is apropos not just to our project, but to what's happening across the ultra-low budget, true indie world. 


This type of filmmaking requires hard living and hard working; roots and raw story telling; dedication and stout wills. We didn't sacrifice scope for money.  We didn't limit ourselves to a one location scenario.  Instead, we took a band of talented, raw, free-spirited individuals on the road and pounded out a rudely, magical collaboration. 


A day before principal photography began, while standing on the rooftop finishing warm beers with the sun starting to show in the sky over a yellow hazed Taipei, Billy, our lead actor, told me that all we needed were 1,000 miracles . . . and we might have a chance at making a decent movie. The day after we finished shooting – dirty, road weary, and once again polishing off a bottle of green label Taiwan Beer on the roof - we joked that all we needed now were 999 more miracles.

The project has been blessed during its entire journey.  Blessed by crew, actors, musicians, family, friends, and supporters.  We're looking forward to sharing it with people.  We feel it’s a touching little picture that manages to capture a small slice of the Taiwan ex-pat experience and breathe realistic life, heart, and spirit into it.  We've got a lot of skin, blood and love in this thing.  Everyone who had anything to do with it does. The woes, wounds, and joys of Punk Rock filmmaking I guess... 

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