The Vineyard is played for creeps in the movie “The Eve,” which is being shot on the Island this month.
The micro-budget independent film, which follows the classic formula of young people trapped in an isolated area with a killer on the loose, is currently in production and is scheduled to be completed on the 23rd. Cast and crew are shooting primarily in and around executive producer and head writer Evan Bass Zeisel’s parents’ house on Quansoo Road in Chilmark.
Mr. Zeisel describes the film as “kind of a cabin fever type movie.” Something most Vineyarders can probably identify with in January.
In a press release, Mr. Zeisel, who was inspired by the Vineyard when he wrote the script as part of a screenwriting course, says, “The desolation and solitude of the Island at this time of year make the perfect backdrop for this story.”
In a phone interview, Mr. Zeisel comments, “We’re using the Vineyard as kind of an additional character.” He talks about the defining look of bare trees, the sound of the wind, and the proximity of the ocean as elements that heighten the sense of Island isolation
Mr. Zeisel, who lives in New York and works in TV and film production as well as acting, will also take on one of the starring roles in the film. The plot centers around three young professionals — former college friends who have gone their separate ways, plus the new girlfriend of one of the characters.
The four have come to the Vineyard to celebrate New Year’s Eve. “They’re taking this trip to reconnect and for one to introduce his girlfriend to the other three,” says Mr. Zeisel. The movie is essentially an ensemble piece, with the only other principal role being filled by local actor Paul Munafo, a veteran of many Vineyard Playhouse productions and a DJ on WVVY radio.
Mr. Zeisel has been a regular Vineyard visitor for 20-plus years, spending summers at his family’s house. Prior to the main action of the movie, there will be some location shots at recognizable locations around the Island, such as Jim’s Package Store in Oak Bluffs, and in Woods Hole.
The principal actors all have TV and movie experience, including Al Thompson, who may be recognizable to some for small roles in the “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and “A Walk To Remember.”
The movie’s director, Ritchie Filippi, has worked on Hollywood films such as “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (production assistant), “Iron Man” (staff assistant), and “Where the Wild Things Are” (production assistant).
Mr. Zeisel, as well as acting in a web series and a couple of indie films, operates a small production company that produces sketches.
The actors are all working for deferred pay, meaning that payment of their day rate is dependent on the film turning a profit.
Mr. Zeisel, who notes that he is no fan of “gore porn,” stresses that “The Eve” plays more on suspense and credible danger rather than blood and guts and monsters. He compares the plot and technique to a Hitchcock film that relies more on the implication, than the visual depiction of violence. He talks about how the state of mind of his characters helps build the suspense as they go from easy camaraderie to stress and paranoia.
“I’m hoping there are other people out there who like a good psychological thriller,” he says, noting that the genre is becoming rarer these days, with more films focusing on bloodbath mania.
The starkness of the Vineyard in winter will add to the overall eerie ambience, according to Mr. Zeisel. He notes, “A lot of people come here just for the summer myth…What I find really interesting about the Vineyard in the winter is its mystique.”
He adds that when the producer, director, and director of photography came with him recently to scout out the Vineyard as a possible location, they finally understood why he was so enthusiastic about the Island’s potential.
“That was the moment that they got fully on page about what we could do,” he says, “because of the amount of character that the Island has.”