Josh Gerritsen, a professional photographer and director of a new Midcoast-based movie, Island Zero, is excited to be working in Maine on his first movie. That his mother, best-selling thriller novelist Tess Gerritsen, is involved is no coincidence — she wrote the screenplay.
“Two summers ago, I was weeding the garden with my mom and out of the blue she said, ‘We should make a horror movie together,’” said Josh Gerritsen.
You know, the typical things a mom and son chat about.
“And I didn’t know that at the time but she’d grown up watching horror films,” continued Gerritsen. “It just never came up in conversation. I’ve loved horror movies since I was a kid. Zombies are the most fun, but aliens are the most scary. I think of the movie Alien as a reference film for Island Zero because it was so beautifully done with such unlikely heroes. Just these blue collar workers who happen to be just doing their jobs set in the future.”
Island Zero is set 40 miles off the coast, on the isolated (and fictionally named) Tucker Island. “For some unknown reason, the power cuts out, the ferry stops running and people start to die in these gruesome and mysterious ways,” said Gerritsen. “The townspeople have to get together to figure out who or what is killing everybody. The people who go for help never come back. No one on the island can reach anyone on a radio and they are trapped.”
It’s an ensemble film with five main characters. Laila Robins, from the Showtime show “Homeland” is the most well known of the cast.
And although Tess Gerritsen wrote the script, this is not her first screenplay. In 1993, she co-wrote the story and screenplay for Adrift, which aired on CBS as Movie of the Week.
Josh Gerritsen also has a background in documentary filmmaking, but this is his first foray into feature films. “I’m drawn to the slow building tension, not the monsters that just leap out at you, but something that builds to terrifying,” he said.
He moved back to Maine three years ago after living in New York City. Having grown up in Maine, he, like so many people, felt the draw to move back. “After high school, I said what most kids say, ‘I’m getting out of here; it’s boring. But, after spending time in New York, I realized there is kind a magic here. For the Midcoast area, there’s so much culture flowing in. You can be in Maine and all of the culture is surrounding you.’”
Mariah Klapatch, a Camden native and longtime friend of the Gerritsens, is producing the film, which has a self-financed budget of up to $300,000.
“Mariah’s a third generation Mainer,” said Gerritsen. “We knew it was going to be a financial risk, but we wanted to make something that reflected Maine. The tax incentive is less than in Massachusetts, and even though we could have shot there, that’s less important than shooting in the state that we love.”
The film, not surprisingly, has already gotten built-in community support. The majority of the cast and crew are also from Maine. “If we were an LA cast and crew that just flew in and asked the locals can we shoot at your diner? Can we shoot at your inn? It would be challenging,” Gerritsen said.
At the time of our interview, Gerritsen and the crew had only been shooting for a week in the Midcoast. Their locations included a doctor’s office, Camden Harbor, Rockport Harbor and the Swan House, a Camden inn, as well as at a house near Megunticook Market. We met the night before the crew was supposed to spend three consecutive 12-hour days shooting on Islesboro.
“Most of the Islesboro shoot will be at Durkee’s General store, a combined diner and general store,” said Gerritsen. “When you see these scenes, this is when the citizens of the island start to become really concerned, you’ll see this shift in behavior.”
The shoot is only supposed to last 18 days, until the end of March, and finished sometime in September. For Gerritsen, it’s been nothing but a good experience so far. “It honestly couldn’t have gone better,” he said. “Our crew is amazing and our cast is just nailing their performances.”
Customers and staff recall unforgettable times at Cappy’s Chowder House
CAMDEN — Imagine sitting at Cappy’s downstairs bar on a regular evening, nothing special, just a night you happened to pop in for a pint, when John Travolta walks in. First, you’re thinking, this can’t be real. There’s a look of concern on his face as he approaches you. “Hey, does anybody here happen to know where a veterinarian is?”
You’re now thinking, “OK, he just came from his house on Islesboro and one of his animals is sick.”
You try to give him some helpful suggestions of vets in the area, as does everyone sitting around at the bar.
Travolta’s straight face now breaks into a grin.
“Good, because these puppies are sick,” he says, flexing his biceps and giving each arm a kiss.
True story. Ann Flagg Campbell, a bartender who worked at Cappy’s Chowder House in 2014-2015 recalls: “It was hilarious, the funniest thing ever. Everybody loved it because it made him so real, down-to-earth and personable. He was the friendliest guy. He’d talk to anybody.”
Travolta was one of a few celebrities who stopped by Cappy’s Chowder House in its 37-year run. Former bartender Duncan Lockie (who made a mean margarita) had another funny story.
“Some years ago, John Travolta came in with Cal Ripken and friend on a quiet, chilly December afternoon with their own bottle of fancy red wine. They sat down at Table 2 and asked very politely whether it was OK to ‘bring their own’ and could they have some of our ‘great Happy Hour popcorn.’ Of course they could! They didn't order anything else and their bill, quite naturally, came to zero. They stayed for about an hour and after they left, there on the table was a $30 cash tip.”
Flagg Campbell said: “I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 25 years and that was, by far, the tightest knit group of people I’ve ever worked with. It was really a family there. In our off time, we’d go to one another’s birthday parties. If someone got sick, we’d all get together and bring them food or visit them at the hospital. ”
It was clear how much Cappy’s staff enjoyed their customers.
We covered Cappy’s when “Big John” Collins, one of Cappy’s veteran bartenders returned after 13-year-hiatus.
We also highlighted bartender Flagg Campbell’s killer Bloody Mary.
Server Kimberly Lockie said: “I worked at Cappy's for six years. I must say there's nothing better than bringing a kid a Giggle Meal for the first time. Sometimes the big kids enjoyed a fun straw in their margarita or a mermaid in their martini. It was a very rewarding job at times.”
Graphic designer Maggi Blue recalls her fleeting days as a server.
“When I worked there in college, I remember being often hyped up on espresso that Big John would make me (I was underage, so this was my vice while working). While working stupid busy weekend days/nights, I would get the question (a la tourist speak) ‘Where is Bangor’ to which I would respond ‘Bang-er, I didn't even know her.’ One never quite knew if the table of tourists would find that funny. It was always a gamble.”
Our own editor Lynda Clancy remembers it as the only job she’s ever held in which she got fired. “I was 17 the summer of 1977, living with my boyfriend at the campground and needed a job,” she said. “I got the breakfast shift. It was the old Cappy’s with the breakfast bar. One morning, all the fishermen and workmen were coming in and in my little apron, I filled the giant coffee maker with water and poured it through. Nothing was happening, so I poured through another. It went all over, everywhere. The floors, counters, everywhere. I was fired the next day.”
Just like Cheers, the fictional neighborhood bar in Boston, Cappy’s was the type of corner bar that drew its Norms and Cliffs. One such beloved customer who passed away in 2012 was Terry Voisine, a regular, who could always be found with a “low brow beer and a highbrow book” in front of him. “He came in all the time and was always reading at the bar,” said Campbell Flagg. “Whenever we did our own personal fundraising efforts to help one of our staff or customers, Terry was always the first one to give or offer help.”
Customer Rai Burnham had a memory that forever changed her view of her mother.
“When my mother and her partner visited me two years ago, I took them to Cappy's on their first night in town. My mother, who never eats dessert, decided to splurge and have the giant brownie sundae. None of us were prepared for the epic enormousness of what she had ordered. My mom is 5'1'. she had to stand up to eat it.”
We’re going to miss the free popcorn and hot wings, the Crow’s Nest and Deck Munchies, Girls’ Nights and after work gatherings, but mostly we’re going to miss the people who worked there and saw us as their “regulars.” Goodbye Cappy’s. We’re sorry to see you go.
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.