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Young Fakenham director wins plaudits on European film circuit

PUBLISHED: 15:42 25 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:58 07 July 2010

Chris Hill

A young movie director from Fakenham is touring the red carpets of Europe after winning accolades at a host of illustrious film festivals.

At the age of 22, Will McGregor has already received a Bafta nomination for his 60-second film Happy Puppy in 2007 - and now he is impressing critics again with his latest production, named Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite.

A young movie director from Fakenham is touring the red carpets of Europe after winning accolades at a host of illustrious film festivals.

At the age of 22, Will McGregor has already received a Bafta nomination for his 60-second film Happy Puppy in 2007 - and now he is impressing critics again with his latest production, named Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite.

The dark fairytale was inspired by Slovenian folklore and shot on location in the idyllic village of Bosljiva Loka last year.

The former Fakenham College student has been in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the Molodist International Film Festival, where he has been nominated for best student film, best short film and the overall Grand Prix prize.

His film has also been accepted into the Warsaw International Film Festival, Cinefest in Hungary, Lund International Fantastic Film Festival in Sweden and the 21st Istanbul International Short Film Festival in November.

Will, who studies Digital Screen Arts at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, said: “It is incredible to be included with the best short films being made around the world. I am the youngest director featured in many cases and so I feel very privileged.

“The film itself is a fantasy story inspired by the legends of Eastern Europe, but it is not one which has been turned into a bedroom story. It is still quite raw. I never really thought of it as a horror, but some of the festivals have put an 18 tag on it.”

During the trip to Slovenia to make the film, Will's production team were hosted in the capital Ljubljana by the British ambassador, Tim Simmons. Since his return, the budding director has finished another short film named Bovine, inspired by his experiences growing up on a pig farm near Fakenham.

But his burgeoning film career may never have happened if not for a cruel end to his initial dream of becoming a professional rugby player. At 13, Will was on the books of premiership rugby union side Leicester Tigers and trained at the England Elite Player Development Centre before a chronic knee injury put paid to his sporting ambitions.

He said: “I really miss playing rugby, but I enjoy doing what I am doing now and you need to look at everything positively. It is easy to take a silver lining from it.”

Will wants to continue developing his film-making style until after his graduation, when he hopes to be able to attract a big enough budget to shoot his first feature film.

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