A24's First Family Film The Legend Of Ochi To Star Willem Dafoe, Finn Wolfhard

A24 continues its streak of betting the farm on promising new storytellers and adds a foray into new-to-A24 genre territory. The entertainment company has greenlit Isaiah Saxon's fantasy epic "The Legend of Ochi," which will mark Saxon's feature debut and star Willem Dafoe ("The Lighthouse") and Finn Wolfhard ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife"). Saxon and Encyclopedia Pictura will produce alongside Traci Carlson and Richard Peete under the Neighborhood Watch banner, and Jonathan Wang with Year of the Rat. "The Legend of Ochi" is executive produced by The Russo Brothers, Mike Larocca and Angela Russo-Otstot of AGBO, Louise Lovegrove, and Alex Plapinger.

The movie is A24's first family film and is based on Saxon's original world and screenplay. On his Twitter account, Saxon calls the project, "a movie about the mysteries of animal communication," while Deadline reports that the story follows "A young girl (Zengel) who runs away from home and learns to communicate with an elusive animal species known as Ochi."

What We Know So Far

Saxon is the co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Encyclopedia Pictura, running the studio along with Daren Rabinovitch and Sean Hellfritsch. They've helmed music videos and projects for artists including Björk, Kanye West, and Grizzly Bear, and its members have created dazzling shorts such as "Ballistic Jaw Propulsion of Trap Jaw Ants." 

The latest word is that Encyclopedia Pictura has an animated series in development at Apple. The work they and Saxon do is singular and it'll be fascinating to see how A24's familiar aesthetic and tone jive with their incredible visuals and worldbuilding. According to Deadline's little birdies, "it's a throwback to old-school pre-Lord of Rings Peter Jackson pics," and apparently the studio suits were so impressed by what they saw that they "jumped at the chance" to link up with him. Hopefully, the early Peter Jackson vibes are something akin to the fantastical dread of his Oscar-nominated 1994 thriller "Heavenly Creatures."

The movie also features an original score by Dave Longstreth, who has a history of tag-teaming with Saxon's animation and film studio Encyclopedia Pictura. Last year, the duo worked together on Saxon's emotional short film "Earth Crisis" (through his band, Dirty Projectors), which was made for and runs on Adult Swim, which, for my money, is just as interested in fomenting creative risk-taking as A24. In any case, "Earth Crisis" seems like a good look a what kind of emotional storytelling we can expect.