EXCLUSIVE: A24 has has assembled an all-star cast including Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Finn Wolfhard and Helena Zengel for Isaiah Saxon’s fantasy epic The Legend of Ochi. The film will mark Saxon’s debut feature and is based on his original characters, world and screenplay.
The Legend of Ochi follows a young girl (Zengel) who runs away from home and learns to communicate with an elusive animal species known as Ochi. The film will include an original score by composer and Dirty Projectors founder Dave Longstreth, a frequent collaborator of Saxon’s animation and film studio Encyclopedia Pictura.
Encyclopedia Pictura co-founder Saxon has directed music videos and projects for Björk, Panda Bear, Dirty Projectors, Kanye West and Grizzly Bear. Encyclopedia Pictura is currently developing an animated series at Apple, and its animated pilot for Cartoon Network, DIY, is based on DIY.org, an online community it co-founded to teach kids practical skills.
Saxon and Encyclopedia Pictura will produce The Legend of Ochi with Traci Carlson and Richard Peete for Neighborhood Watch and Jonathan Wang with Year of the Rat. The Russo Brothers, Mike Larocca and Angela Russo-Otstot of AGBO will executive produce, along with Louise Lovegrove and Alex Plapinger. A24 will finance and handle worldwide releasing.
A24 is best known for its adult fare and while this isn’t a straightforward family feature, The Legend of Ochi would mark its first foray into the genre with tones and themes of what fans of A24 films have been accustom to. Insiders say its a throwback to old-school pre-Lord of Rings Peter Jackson pics, and sources add that execs where so blown away by the world Saxon created that A24 jumped at the chance of working with him. A24 is known for taking big bets on first-time filmmakers, like it did with Ari Aster on Hereditary, as well as maintaining that relationship long after. Aster is currently filming his third feature with the studio and the hope is the same with A24 and Saxon here.
Saxon is repped by Verve, 2AM and Hansen, Jacobson. Dafoe is represented by CAA and Circle of Confusion. Zengel is represented by CAA and Artists Partnership. Watson is represented by UTA, Independent Talent in the UK, and Schreck Rose. Wolfhard is represented by CAA, Velocity Entertainment Partners and Jackoway Austen.
AGBO is also currently working with A24 and producer Wang on the 2022 release Everything Everywhere All at Once, from filmmaker duo The Daniels.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.