Award-winning writer/director Myles Yaksich creates a deeply personal story about timeless issues: race, gender, sexuality and sense of belonging — in his period thriller-drama directing debut feature “ALBATROSS”
By Oliver Carnay
ALBATROSS, set in a period movie, is a dark, character-driven drama which examines the concept of self-identity, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in the context of society, while illustrating the compromises individuals willing to make to feel as though they belong. Two seemingly separate narratives, spanning 30 years converge at a dinner party between a pair of newly introduced couples in 1959 New England, revealing that the attendees know much more about one another than they first thought.
Childless biracial couple, wife Elizabeth (Catherine Gauthier) and an unpublished writer Thomas Miller (Romaine Waite) were invited to a dinner by Carol (Sarah Orenstein) and Dr. Lloyd Burke (David Keeley), a psychiatrist. The latter has an impressive home glorifying the societal ideals of the era, prominent role at the Country Club, and a son studying medicine. But behind this, Carol has been keeping a facade that her relationship with husband is still strong. Her husband is having a hidden relationship with his patient (Thom Nyhuss). Also in the cast are Jill Frappier (Barbara), David Huband (Bertram), Mikaella Bisson (Young Woman), Daniel Krmpotic (Young Blonde Man), and Jonathon Lerose (Young Brunette Man).
This is writer/director Myles Yaksich debut feature after doing the short films POPPIES in 2018 (which premiered at the Academy Qualifying LA Shorts Fest, and received over 20 awards from 35 festivals across six countries for Best Writer, Director, and Film, and his other short film ERIN in 2019, also premiered at the LA Shorts Fest, and received over 12 awards from 19 film festivals across four countries for Best Director and Film.
Through his short films, Myles Yaksich has created an appealing body of work that explores human experience on a global scale, with a particular focus on the complexity of self-discovery through interactions with strangers. Born in Canada, he learned at a young age to travel and appreciate art and culture. After completing his degree in Finance and Economics, he pursued investment banking in Singapore and private equity in South East Asia, before relocating to Los Angeles. His films tap into universal themes that expand the definitions of home, family, and belonging.
Myles’ feature debut, “Albatross,” is a progression of this trajectory. His unique perspective and interest in stories about societal groups establishing roots, and the contrast between progress and tradition are laced throughout the narrative. Working with an intensely collaborative and supportive team has enabled Myle sto exercise his strong creative control, ultimately making his debut film, so fascinating, fresh and powerful.
ALBATROSS premiered at the Sedona International Film Festival in March 2022 and received over 4 awards from 3 festivals across two continents including Best Indie Film, Best Cinematography, Best Script and Best Director.
Myles Yaksich statement:
“Creating a film during the pandemic has been an incredibly rewarding, albeit challenging experience. Not only was I tasked with developing a story that met the requirements of a COVID-free production, but also with writing a film within those constraints that exemplified my aesthetic as a first-time feature filmmaker.
Not your typical period drama, “Albatross” takes a stylized look at current issues through a period lens. Conceptually, I am fascinated by the ways we cope with challenging experiences to either grow or stagnate. Social media deters us from understanding differing opinions and encourages us to react emotionally to the impact alternate opinions have on our community. It has become too easy to shut the door, lock an account, or add more filters to categorize others as either fitting within or outside of our own bubble. With “Albatross”, I wanted to go back to a time where differing ideas were analyzed and discussed intellectually, not just blocked emotionally. The film is riddled with opposing philosophical perspectives, forcing the characters to question the stability of their respective relationships and consider how the past or future will continue to nurture or deteriorate them. What happens when you can’t leave the dinner table?
Bringing this story from page to screen required the support of a solid team. Starting with an invaluable group of executive producers, including Larry and Gayle Yaksich, Aleksey Petrov, Todd Slater and Grant Slater, and industry veteran, Jennie Lew Tugend, whose expertise guided our ship through development, production and post. To ensure “Albatross” achieved a look and feel consistent with my previous work, it was critical to work with Dylan Chapgier (Director of Photography), Nicholas Pike (Composer) and Mariana Benevello (Editor). The constraints of COVID required shifting physical production from Los Angeles to my hometown of Hamilton, ON (Canada). Local producers, James Mark and Bruno Marino, ensured we got through production unscathed and built the remainder of the production team, including Christopher Paunil (Costume Design).
Casting the character-led drama was crucial, and I was adamant about tapping into Canada’s rich theatre community; I’m proud of the all-Canadian cast Ashley Hallihan (Casting Director) assembled. It’s been a pleasure working with Katherine Gauthier, David Huban, David Keeley, Sarah Orenstein, Romaine Waite, Jill Frappier and David Huband. I’m also excited to introduce fresh talent, Mikaela Bisson, Daniel Krmpotic, Jonathon LeRose, and Thom Nyhuus. I’m honored by the trust the entire cast placed in my vision, and so grateful for the initiative and homework they undertook, which added depth to their characters and nuance to their performances). Despite the challenges of COVID, they brought their A-Game to set everyday, enabling us to have a lot of fun and run 7-page dinner sequences without having to cut, for example.
After 12 months of development, production and post, I’m proud to introduce this film. Please enjoy our film, and my first foray into feature filmmaking.”
ALBATROSS is currently available in the U.S. and Canada under PRE-ORDER, expected August 2, 2002 on ITunes and AppleTV.