AN EERIE horror film, directed by a former Bangor student originally from Llandudno, has appeared on Amazon Prime in time for Halloween.

“Shepherd”, by Russell Owen, was Mark Kermode’s film of the week and New York Times’ Critics Pick when it hit cinemas last year.

The creepy thriller centres on Eric Black who, haunted by the mysterious death of his wife, chooses a life of isolation on a remote Scottish island.

After taking a job looking after 600 sheep, Eric (played by Tom Hughes) meets a vengeful supernatural force and fears he is losing his mind as his nightmarish hallucinations intensify.


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Russell, who studied the art foundation course at Coleg Menai, has already carved out a successful career as a commercial director, having co-founded London creative agency Kindred Communications.

He has directed advertising campaigns for the likes of Armani, L'Oréal, American Express, Haig Whisky and Specsavers, working with celebrities such as David Beckham and Kylie Minogue.

Now, he hopes Shepherd will prove his breakthrough as a cinema director, and has secured a Hollywood agent following the film’s success in the US.

But the film might never have been made had Russell listened to those who advised him against his previous flick, “Inmate Zero”.

“I got a call asking if I could direct a zombie film,” said Russell.

“The director had pulled out, and it didn’t have any cast, crew, costumes, or locations. Somebody said to me: ‘If you do that film, it will be the end of your career’.

“I said: ‘I don’t have a career; not in film, anyway’, so I thought I might as well just jump in and do it.

“I told the production company I’d do it for free if they would finance Shepherd, which I wrote in 2003 while I was at university.”

 A deal was made, and within a week of Inmate Zero being filmed, Russell was in Scotland seeking out locations to shoot Shepherd.

“I wrote Shepherd to illustrate the horror of isolation,” he said.

“Throughout the film there’s an underlying tension, something not quite right about everything. You’re never sure where he actually is - is he in Purgatory? Is the island real? Has he gone mad?

“Shepherd was a tough shoot, but as a result of finally getting it off the ground, I’ve got an agent in Hollywood, and all the other stuff I’ve written is now with much bigger studios such as Lionsgate and Amazon.”

Work on those other projects has been delayed by strikes in the industry, but it is hoped another film will go into production in the near future.

Russell learned a lot about making films while working under cinematographer Adrian Biddle on 2005 horror An American Haunting, starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland.

He then developed his skills as a storyboarder for TV shows such as Doctor Who, and worked on set design for The Graham Norton Show.