CAMDEN — It was a big night for the Gerritsen family, cast, crew and friends. Tess, Josh and Jacob Gerritsen sat back and watched the premiere of Island Zero at the Camden Opera House Saturday, October 29. The movie was written by Tess Gerritsen, produced by Mariah Klapatch and directed by Josh Gerritsen.
Inhabitants of a fishing island off the coast of Maine find themselves mysteriously cut off from the outside world after the ferry suddenly stops coming. All the phones have gone dead and every boat sent to the mainland fails to return. When dead bodies turn up along the water's edge, the hardy band of survivors must find out who, or what, is killing them.
The film stars Laila Robins as Maggie; Adam Wade McLaughlin as Sam; Teri Reeves as Lucy; Matthew Wilkas as Titus and introduces Elaine Landry as Ellie.
Island Zero was filmed in our backyard of Midcoast Maine during the winter months of 2015-16. The film is true to the horror aspect of story telling that Gerritsen is best known and loved for.
Special effects, a good story line, interesting aerial photography, excellent placement of comic relief and glimpses of familiar scenes around Rockport, Camden, Islesboro and Mohegan Islands all made the 90 minute movie enjoyable to watch.
Director Josh Gerritsen said he felt excellent about the opening night.
"I know we made a good movie that I'm very proud of," he said. "I've so been looking forward to this night where we can share it with the whole community, which has helped us make this movie."
Gerritsen said the end product and hard work is a good representation of his art.
"We've been working on this for two years and we have such a good team of collaborators," he said. "Everything came together and I'm really proud of what we made. I felt from the very beginning that anything we made was going to be good."
Producer Mariah Klapatch said the days of shooting the film were unique in every way.
"In terms of dealing with everyone, the days were easy, medium and hard at any given moment," she said. "There were so many challenges. Every day it seemed like something terrible would happen and then anywhere from two minutes to two hours it would be better again. And it would feel like a triumph."
Shot during the winter, Mariah said there was a lot of colds, sniffles and coughs.
"Everyone gave me a hard time because they thought I would be the weak one having just come out from California, but I can tell you I was about the only one who didn't get sick," she said. "What we took to doing was I would, or have someone walk around with a bottle of Airbourne and a bottle of B12 and say here, take this because you're not getting sick and are you drinking enough water."
Josh Gerritsen said one of the biggest challenges he encountered during production was having a persistent cough during the entire shooting process.
"From day one until the end of shooting the cough was there," he said. "I kept a bottle of water in one hand and in the other a hot tea and in between takes I would have a coughing fit. So much of the first two weeks was focusing on not coughing during a take."
Klapatch is moving back to Maine and is planning on filming an erotic thriller here in 2018. She hopes she can continue working with the Gerritsens.
During a question and answer session following the film, Tess Gerritsen gave a glimpse into why she enjoys the horror genre.
"I grew up with horror, she began. "My mom was an immigrant from China and the type of movie genre she loved was horror films. Because she understood them, there were a lot of visuals, and so she took me to every scary movie that was ever made."
She said she grew up loving the movies from the 60s.
"Those of us who are old enough remember that those had a lot to do with anxiety about the nuclear age. There were creatures, there was Them, there was The Thing, there were all these things that had to do with the natural world and how it turns against us. Movies about ghosts and demons are scary, but monster movies to me are fun; a fun old fashioned monster movie."
Kerry Hadley, Camden Opera House director, recalled how this is the second event the Opera House has hosted for Tess Gerritsen. The first event being a private screening seven years ago of the seventh season of the Rizzoli and Isles, television show.
Rizzoli and Isles is a TNT television series starring Angie Harmon as police detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. The one-hour drama is based on the Rizzoli and Isles series of novels by Tess Gerritsen.
Next year, Gerritsen will publish her 12th Rizzoli and Isles book.
"The main thing we set out to do was have a good time," she said. "The idea was to have fun, make a movie and Lord knows what it will turn out to be. We met our first objective, which was, I think, that we had a lot of fun."
Gerritsen said now they have to wait and see if the movie can meet the budget.
"If we actually make our budget back we'll do another one," she said. "We already have a couple of ideas. We are thinking about a comedy-horror film. We'll probably have to wait about a year to see if we make back our budget and then we'll take it from there."
Island Zero is full of chills and edge-of-your-seat scenes. The only thing missing Saturday night was two large spotlights for the 1950s criss-crossing the sky outside the Camden Opera House. A great job by a talented team and a feather in the cap of a great and talented community.