Filmmakers conned out of $20,000 will make revenge fantasy movie in Tampa

The movie features Tampa Bay Lightning announcer Phil Esposito and “Loki” Season 2 director Aaron Moorhead.
Movie producers Shane Brady and Emily Zercher will film their next project, “HACKED: A Double Entendre of Rage Fueled Karma," in Tampa Bay later this year.
Movie producers Shane Brady and Emily Zercher will film their next project, “HACKED: A Double Entendre of Rage Fueled Karma," in Tampa Bay later this year. [ Courtesy of Shane Brady ]
Published Oct. 18, 2023

TAMPA — When engaged filmmakers Shane Brady and Emily Zercher were conned out of $20,000 by a hacker during the 2021 purchase of their Texas home, the normally upbeat couple had dark thoughts.

No one was charged with the crime, but Brady said they wondered what would happen if they sought vigilante justice.

“It fundamentally changed who Emily and I were as people,” said Brady, 36 , who was raised in Palm Harbor. “We’re these very kind people and we started having these daydreams of what we would do if we saw the guy in an alley with a pipe ... but we’re good people, so of course wouldn’t do that.”

Instead, the couple will play out their revenge fantasy through the movie “HACKED: A Double Entendre of Rage Fueled Karma.” It will be shot all over Tampa Bay near the end of this year.

The first 10 minutes or so will be based on the real crime. The rest is based on their dark daydreams. Brady and Zercher are the producers.

Brady wrote and will direct the movie while starring as the character based on him.

Augie Duke, whose credits include “Mayans M.C.,” portrays the character based on Zercher.

Other notable actors Tampa Bay Lightning announcer Phil Esposito and Tarpon Springs native Aaron Moorhead, who is also director of Marvel’s “Moon Knight” and Season 2 of “Loki.”

According to the production’s application for a $25,000 Hillsborough County film incentive, the movie will be shot for 10 days in Pinellas County and 11 in Hillsborough and spend nearly $300,000 locally on cast, crew, equipment rentals and other expenditures.

“From local residents to business owners, Shane goes out of his way to make the community part of the filmmaking process,” said Tyler Martinolich, head of Film Tampa Bay, which is Hillsborough’s film commission. “This provides an invaluable economic impact.”

This will be the second movie that Brady and Zercher make in Tampa Bay.

In late 2021, they shot “Breathing Happy” about a recovering drug addict trying to achieve one year of sobriety alone on Christmas as past demons tempt him to relapse.

It was during the final week of production for that movie that the real-life crime occurred.

Brady and Zercher were to send $20,000 to their title company as a down payment on their new home. But someone, somehow, became aware of the business deal and sent the couple an email that pretended to be from the title company.

“Everything looked identical,” Brady said. “The only difference was there was an employee named Sarah who had been spelling her name with an H and this was duplicated as Sara without an H.”

They wired the $20,000. Then they got a call from the real title company asking for the money.

They sent another $20,000 and got the house, but the experience shook them.

Planning your weekend?

Planning your weekend?

Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter

We’ll deliver ideas every Thursday for going out, staying home or spending time outdoors.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

“We went into debt because of all of this,” Brady said. But for “those wondering if we got our $20,000 back, you’ll just have to watch ‘HACKED’ when it comes out in 2024.”