Director Mark Jarrett spent three years in Taiwan as an English teacher and this life time experience has been crucial to him. He said that since he experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake there in 1999, Taiwan has been tattooed on his psyche. For years the island has served as his band camp, boot camp, and romantic Neverland. Mark started thinking about setting a script in Taiwan for a long time but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007, as he began reading the novel As I Lay Dying by Faulkner, that he actually started incubating an idea about a road trip set there that touched the ideas of land, blood, place and disappointment. Directing The Taiwan Oyster, Mark has seen his dreams come true.
Filmed with a low budget, and co-written by Mark, his brother Mitchell and longtime friend Jordan Heimer, the movie tells the story of Darin and Simon, two American kindergarten teachers who steal the corpse of a fallen countryman and embark on a quixotic road trip through the Taiwanese countryside in search of a suitable burial place for a person they barely knew. Masquerading as a bender road-movie, the darkly comic film explores deep existentialist questions as the protagonists journey deeper and deeper into the Taiwanese countryside. Darin and Simon’s quest for the perfect burial spot becomes a strange trip down Taiwan’s picturesque East Coast Highway as they encounter the unique cultures of Taiwan, welcoming families, violent gangsters, and Nikita, another lost soul who joins their odyssey. Along the way, they explore the Southeast Asian ex-patriot experience, their own personal demons, and the universal questions that arise when one is confronted with an untimely death. Referring to the director’s words, The Taiwan Oyster reflects a punk rock attitude of filmmaking. It’s raw, soulful, passionate and sincere. And this is the way we like it.