A few years ago, on a lovely summer day, my son Josh and I were weeding the garden when I confessed a secret: “I’ve always wanted to write a horror film.” Josh had worked as a documentary filmmaker, and had never made a narrative film, but he was game. “You write it, I’ll direct it,” he said.
I had several goals in mind when I wrote the script for “Island Zero.” First, I wanted to honor the fun B-film creature features of my childhood, the era of “Them” and “The Thing.” And I wanted to give the genre a modern twist. Instead of featuring a classic hero or a bevy of nubile teenagers, in my story, mature female characters would take center stage. When the going gets tough, the older women take command — one woman in particular, who has a tragic past and a backbone of steel.
It took me a few months to write the script. Then Josh brought in his good friend from high school, Mariah Klapatch, as a producer, and she guided us through the process of casting, hiring, and cutting my over-ambitious script down to low-budget size. (I had no idea how expensive it is to break a window or shoot on the water. Not to mention building a sea monster.)
A little over a year later, a team of actors and crew assembled on a very cold March in Maine to film “Island Zero.” Working with a low budget, with costumes gleaned from Goodwill stores and a cast that was 75% local, Josh shot the film in a lightning quick 18 days. They endured rain and sleet during outdoor scenes, and one actress (who had to pose outside for hours as a corpse) said she could feel her eyeballs freezing over. They shuttled back and forth by ferry to the island of Islesboro (the story, after all, does take place on an island!) and some nights the craft service team, which catered the food, found their delicious salads freezing as soon as they set them out.
Yet somehow, our small but mighty team managed to make a movie. And we even managed to burn down a house. (On purpose!)
The premise is simple: What if the ferry that supplies a remote Maine island just stops coming? What if the phones are dead, the power’s out, and every boat the islanders send to the mainland fails to return? The hardy band of survivors, left with a dwindling supply of food, must find out who — or what — has cut them off from the rest of the world. And soon the dead bodies start turning up…
On May 15, “Island Zero” will be released in North America on video-on-demand through iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube Movies, and through cable on DirecTV, Dish, InDemand, and other cable outlets. In June, it will come out on DVD.
It’s now available as a preorder exclusive from iTunes.
It’s been a long journey, we’ve learned a lot as first-time horror filmmakers, and we can’t wait to do it again!
For more info, check out the Island Zero website.