$10,000 international win for Limerick ‘horror’


by Rose Rushe

Sinners, written and directed by Stephen Hall
Sinners, written and directed by Stephen Hall

LIMERICK film maker Stephen Hall has won $10,000 dollars for a locally made thriller in a Canadian festival for horror/ fantasy. Shot over 72 hours in a city church, streets and his own apartment, ‘Sinners’ took top prize in the overall $20,000 Horror Black Short Film Festival 2015 that ran off the global platform of Youtube. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBwJ2QzayV8

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His movie-in-miniature stars two Limerick based actors familiar with stage and screen, Zeb Moore of Magic Roundabout Theatre and Nigel Mercier of Limerick School of  Acting – more recently of ‘Love/ Hate’.

News of the win came at lunchtime today, Friday March 27.

Hoarse with delight and disbelief, Hall tells Limerick Post, “This is really, really cool,” glee unabashed. “The money is unbelievable, but what is really brilliant is the worldwide distribution of ‘Sinners’ in a pack with horror-themed tee-shirt, magazine and stuff like a Hannibal themed stress ball.”

The DVD will go to thousands of homes through a subscription service run by the distributor, Nerd Block. It’s all fun.

Stephen Hall, LIT trained and with several films/ shorts to his credit
Stephen Hall, LIT trained and with several films/ shorts to his credit

A graduate of LIT’s film making course, 20-something Stephen Hall made the four and a half minute short almost two years ago, “from the time I pressed the record button to wrap, in 72 hours. I entered the film online in the competition and to be considered by the judges, it had to be rated in the top 10 on Youtube with ‘likes’ [social media triggered approval]”.

He got them.

Using minimal equipment of a €20 tripod from Argos, one lens, “a quick running gun”, budget of €10 (his own) and permission from St Joseph’s Church’s kindly caretaker for use of the confession box, his actors fleshed out the story: “A man (Zeb Moore) confesses his sins in church to a priest (Nigel Mercier) and finds he is not only a sinner but the righteous one”. Joanne Ryan, Irish Times Theatre nominee 2014 and Pius McGrath feature also.

Beyond happiness that he can fund his next project with the win – not bad for the outlay of a tenner – Hall is busy now on the Trilogy project of films funded in total by €10,000 from City of Culture. This is managed through Film Limerick/ Behind the Scenes with others such as ‘Lost and Found’.

LA next with his 2014 feature 'A Quiet Hour' picked up for distribution, Zeb Moore
LA next with his 2014 feature ‘A Quiet Hour’ picked up for distribution, Zeb Moore

Scooping the Horror Black big-time is one lucky element in a whammy week for Zebedee Moore, cast now in ‘Lost and Found’ which is being shot in Limerick. The Meelick based actor/ producer/ engineer will fly to Los Angeles next week, having received news that a 2014 feature made with Dakota Fanning, ‘The Quiet Hour’, has been picked up for international distribution. It’s another dark outing for the sunny-natured Dub.

Typically, Moore was more than actor on ‘Sinners’, “helping to get if off the ground but effectively, the concept and the writing are Stephen’s. We shot it in less than the said time and it was a hard slog. We [three] discussed it pre the shoot and I had a very clear idea as to how I was going to play that character”.

Nigel Mercier,  'Love/ Hate', 'Cowboys & Angels' and 'Jack Taylor: The Pikeman'
Nigel Mercier, ‘Cowboys & Angels’ and ‘Jack Taylor: The Pikeman’

Underlining the team work before and post production, Zeb Moore makes the point that the tight deadline “was part of the fun of it. We wanted to see what we could achieve and to what standard”.

Well, horror buffs dig you too, bébé.

Stephen Hall’s talent and work ethic, admired by those around him, have done well to garner recognition internationally as well as dollar and catchment while in his young years. Money begets money, is an old saying. Is another Limerick man en route to LA?