WorldScreenings: Dead Still Creator John Morton

Inspired by the real-life trend of post-mortem photography in the Victorian era, Dead Still blends mystery and drama with gallows humor and a touch of the macabre. It centers on Brock Blennerhasset, Ireland’s foremost memorial photographer, played by Michael Smiley (Luther, Wire in the Blood). Blennerhasset is supported in his endeavors by Conall Molloy, his loyal and efficient assistant—played by Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones, Victoria)—and Nancy Vickers, his young niece charged with helping run his business—played by Eileen O’Higgins (Brooklyn, Mary Queen of Scots).

In the world of Dead Still, Blennerhasset is the pioneer of the practice of memorial photography in Ireland. As the story of Dead Still begins in late 1880, the practice itself is at the beginning of the end (so to speak) and will have died out for the most part by the end of the following decade. Once a photographic prodigy in Ireland and a pioneer of the daguerreotype (an early photographic method that captures an image on an iodine sensitized silvered plate), Blennerhasset is now struggling to keep up with the times. He tries to revive his business after an accident, with the help of Molloy, who is a former gravedigger, and his once-estranged niece.

Meanwhile, it appears someone more sinister is getting in on the death-photography game. A detective begins to investigate a series of murders in Dublin’s criminal underbelly and concludes that the serial killer may be cashing in on a taste for a different type of memorial imagery: pictures of people in the throes of death. As the body count begins to rise, Blennerhasset, Molloy and Vickers must stop a murderer intent on ending not just their business, but their lives.

The Irish-Canadian co-production premieres exclusively in the U.S. and Canada on Acorn TV with two episodes on May 18, followed by one new episode every Monday through June 15. The six-episode series will also be airing on RTÉ. Acorn Media Enterprises has all rights in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., and ZDF Enterprises distributes the series in the rest of the world.

Dead Still comes from the creative mind of John Morton, who created and co-wrote the series with Imogen Murphy. From his home in Ireland, Morton spoke to Kristin Brzoznowski, World Screen’s executive editor, via video conference to discuss the approach to crafting the show.

See ZDF Enterprises’ Spring 2020 Showcase here.