Island Zero - Filmmaker Commentary Part 3

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Fun Size Horror premiered the trailer for ISLAND ZERO, a feature film from best-selling author Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles) who wrote and executive produced the monster-thriller. Inspired by classic films like The Thing, the movie is a truly independent production that should inspire other filmmakers. The director, Josh Gerritsen, and producer, Mariah Klapatch, have provided us with exclusive commentary into the making of the feature. Below is Part 3 of the commentary featuring both filmmakers. 

Watch Trailer and Read full Commentary HERE!

Production & Post - Josh Gerritsen, director

Island Zero BTS w/ Josh Gerritsen

Director Josh Gerritsen & actor Robin Jones

"Nothing could have prepared me for the grueling schedule of a low budget film in production. The closest thing I had for comparison was a five-month apprenticeship of milking cows and taking care of pigs and chickens for thirteen hours a day. We spent almost two years preparing to shoot the movie and every bit of preparation paid off. Our extraordinary cinematographer, Mark Farney, lived with me during production and that was a huge asset. 

In addition to filmmaking, I have a small organic farm with cows, sheep, and chickens. I had planned to use lamb intestines for the bulk of our practical effects, but the smell of them straight from the slaughterhouse was almost too overwhelming for me. To make up for it we made sure to use lots of fake blood. You can never have enough fake blood! 

When there are problems on set or you can't get exactly the shot or prop you want, it's crucial to be able to pivot quickly. Our producer, DP, and I didn't bring our egos to the set- we brought creative ideas to the table and if someone had a better idea than me, I was more than happy to run with it. Making a great film is more important than filling it with just your ideas.

After we wrapped, I spent three weeks doing other things and generally ignoring the footage. It was important to me to have time apart from what we had shot to gain perspective on it, something I'm used to doing with photos as well. Our editor, Mike Immerman, spent a few weeks putting together most of the rough assembly in Los Angeles then flew to Maine to do the edit here. It was an indescribable feeling to watch the rough cut for the first time. After two years of work on the film, we finally got a look at what it was all for. After about eleven revisions and five weeks of editing, the picture was locked and exactly how I wanted the film to be.

My favorite part of directing Island Zero was collaborating with lots of people across many disciplines. With a professional background in photography, I'm used to working by myself and making all the creative decisions alone. Listening to different ideas from the actors to editor, coming up with an innovative way to cut a scene, this film is a sum of all our efforts.

Our composer, Clayton Worbeck, found us by chance on IMDB. I thought it was premature to put up our IMDB page but Tess insisted it was important. Turned out she was right, because we got an original score that meshes perfectly with every second of our film. Our colorist, Mark Todd Osborne, worked magic on the film—especially the third act. We shot in a claustrophobic abandoned house and it was very challenging to achieve good lighting on our actors while making it convincing they were only using lanterns. Mark took the footage and sculpted the light so a few feet away from the actors would fall into darkness. Just as I had envisioned: our characters cling to a notion of safety in the warm embrace of light, but they are never truly safe, not even within the confines of the house.

Dir. Josh Gerritsen, Producer Mariah Klapatch, and DP Mark Farney

Dir. Josh Gerritsen, Producer Mariah Klapatch, and DP Mark Farney

We had a private screening for our hometown in the local opera house three days after we finished the movie. I wore a tie with a killer squid on it to celebrate the occasion and watched Island Zero with my community. If the reception from that audience is any indication, I think we made a movie to be proud of."

Finished Movie Thoughts - Mariah Klapatch, producer

"The most challenging part of this entire process, for me, was sustaining energy and passion for the project. To borrow an overused axiom, the short form is a sprint and a feature is a marathon. As a leader it was not just about maintaining my own interest but creating an atmosphere that would encourage the whole team to do so. At the beginning the idea of being on one project for 2-4 years was a complete unknown. Now that I’ve done it, I’m hooked. Words can hardly describe the profound fulfillment I felt watching our movie on a big screen surrounded by members of our cast, crew and town. Seeing the memories flash by my mind’s eye during each scene and knowing all the things that had to go right (or went wrong and had to be fixed!) and how many people were involved to accomplish them was the best feeling in the world."

Read Full Commentary HERE!

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