ARTS AND FEATURES — 27 November 2013

By Shelley Marsden

A POWERFUL short film about  Irish volunteers in World War I has beaten more than 1,200 competitors from across Europe to win a €5,000 award.

Coward tells the story of two Irish soldiers who leave their homes to fight in the trenches, balancing the truth and the hardships they endure with a compelling, cinematic approach to storytelling.

Its cinematographer, Dubliner Stephen Murphy, scooped the top prize at the fourth annual G-Technology Driven Creativity Award, which recognizes the best amateur and professional artists in film, music, photography and animation.

Judges praised the 28-minute film, which depicts the grizzly horrors of the front, as a film that “looks like a major Hollywood production”; “a thing of undeniable beauty” with “outstanding story and visuals’.

Stephen, 35, who has worked as a camera operator on films including Hunger and The Guard, said: “The creative team is thrilled at this win. Our film represents over a year’s work, with more than 100 technicians helping to bring it to the screen, so the recognition this brings is truly satisfying.

“I’ll be sharing the €5,000 with our director Dave Roddham and producer Dave Komaroni. The G-Technology G-DOCK ev™ we received and the prize money will be invaluable in helping us develop Coward into a full feature film. With access to a much broader audience base a full length feature film would give us a larger canvas to explore this important topic.”

The topic for the film was chosen by its director after coming across an article in the Irish Times about 26 Irish soldiers who had been executed at dawn for cowardice during WW1. The piece spoke about their recent pardon by the UK government.

Stephen explained: “With hindsight the feeling was that most, if not all, of those troops were suffering what we would now call shellshock. David felt it was an important subject matter to explore on screen, and with that as a jumping off point we began to talk about how we would visualise the brutal conditions that the soldiers were forced to endure, and how that could lead to their desertion.”

The cinematographer spoke recently about the challenges of shooting in a manmade trench, which they built a half hour north of London, in January in the freezing cold: “It was extremely difficult for both cast and crew. But that physical difficulty translated to the film and really helped us get across just how horrible the conditions that these soldiers had to deal with were.”

 

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