Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:32 UK
Global success for film maker
Still from Whos's Afraid of the Water Sprite? by Will McGregor
Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? was shot over nine days in Slovenia

Despite being only 21, Will McGregor has been making films for four years.

The film maker from East Rudham has recently finished post-production on Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? which has been selected for screenings at several international film festivals.

He is now working on his next short film, called Bovine, inspired by his childhood living on a family farm.

"Growing up in Norfolk has enabled me to make it a powerful film with an honest message," said Will.

Will talks to BBC Norfolk's Rob Sykes about his career as a film maker and what he plans for the future are.

How did you get into film making?

All I ever dreamt about as a kid was playing rugby. However, at the age of 12 I dislocated my knee.

I couldn't walk for six weeks and didn't play rugby for over a year.

Eventually I was advised by a doctor not to play rugby ever again.

At the age of 17, there was a giant void in my life where rugby once was.

The dedication and determination that rugby had forged within me still remained and I transferred it to film making.

Who's Afraid of the water Sprite? is based on a mischievous character from Slovenian folklore. How did you find filming and working in Slovenia?

I'm not entirely convinced that I was aware of what I was getting myself into. The shoot was the toughest nine days of my life and the year in pre-production sapped me of all social life.

Will McGregor on set in Slovenia
"The support we received in Slovenia was spectacular," said Will

I wouldn't say this was all due to filming in a foreign country, but it was just one of the factors that made Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? an exceptionally ambitious project.

Having said that, I would never change what I set out to do. I learnt more in making that one film than in my entire degree and I have some incredible memories.

I swam to Croatia and drive 1000 miles through seven countries to get to Slovenia, sleeping on tarpaulin on the roadside as we had no money for accommodation.

In the end, it just makes me more proud of what we have achieved.

It's been a two year project. How was the time used?

The film took two years, primarily due to the fact that I wanted to do it all to a high standard. I wanted to step out from the 'student film' bracket.

This meant effectively putting together a professional level film with no money, which is achievable as long as you invest your time wisely in order to get what you want.

For example, a post production house in Soho, London, called The Farm agreed to grade the film, which is basically the process of polishing it off to get the best look out of your footage. The process would normally cost £300 an hour, but we got four days work for free.

We just had to do it in their down-time. The process took three months over all, and that's just to get the colour the way I wanted it!

Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? been selected for the Warsaw International Film Festival as well as the Cinefest in Hungary and the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival in Sweden. How does it feel to have other people recognise your hard work?

It feels incredible to be accepted into the festival. I made the film to step out of the student festivals and into the international festival circuit, so we have achieved what we set out to do with the film.

The best thing is the selection committee at Warsaw had no idea of my age or how young my crew was, so we are being screened on merit with the best short films in the world.

I'm hopping that Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? will now go on to exceed all our original hopes and expectations.

How does the festival process work?

Well it sounds a simple process - you just post your entry to a festival and if they like it, they will screen it.

But it's much more complicated than that. Knowing which festivals to enter is the first problem.

Many are wanting to take your money and some of them aren't worth screening at. I kept to Academy Award qualifying festivals and did a lot of research to find out which festivals were worth entering.

It's then just a case of waiting to see how you do. This is the part I enjoy, as it's a bit of an adrenalin rush when you get a letter or e-mail addressed from a festival you really want to screen at.

When we got into Warsaw I did a kind of uncontrollable dance on my bed in celebration. I was very excited!

At the age of 21 you've managed to break into a career that can take years to crack. How does it feel to have achieved so much already?

I am proud of what I have achieved and happy with the situation I have put myself into, but I try and keep a level head about things.

I know I'm separating myself from other film makers of my age, but if I think about it too much then I feel that it could all go to my head.

I am very critical of everything I do, so when I make my next film I feel as if I have everything to prove.

I want to make increasingly better films. To do this I have to be critical of my work and achievements.

You're working on a new film at the moment called Bovine. It deals with issues relating to agriculture. Did growing up in Norfolk inform your subject matter?

Growing up in Norfolk on a farm has given me a perspective on life I feel is very beneficial and that many people in today's society lack.

Will McGregor and a cow
Bovine was inspired by Will's childhood on a farm

The idea of animal husbandry, that we are stewards of the world we live in, is something constantly relevant to our lives in a rural community, but something I feel on a national and even global scale we are losing touch with.

What is the film about?

The film focuses on one day when a dairy farmer and his son have to deal with some of their cattle being put down due to TB, a disease that badly affects cattle and the farming world.

I want to look at the relationship between the farmer and his son and the animals they care for particularly looking at the difference in attitude between the resolute farmer, de-sensitised to losing his animals and the more sentimental and attached view of his young son.

What are your long term plans?

I want to continue essentially as I am doing, but hopefully I will be making feature films and not short films.

I want to stay true to my aspirations and beliefs. I have a philosophy of film making that I want to stick to, I don't want to sell out just for the money.

Hopefully in 10 years time I can be making feature films in the British Film Industry, still carrying a message and making people laugh and cry with my own way of looking at life.

Will McGregor is filming Bovine in Devon during September 2009.

Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? appears at the Warsaw International Film Festival between 9 and 18 September, Cinefest between 11 and 20 September, and the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival between 17 and 26 September, 2009.

New feature film shot in Norfolk
14 May 09 |  Arts & Culture
Showcase your creativity in HD
08 Apr 09 |  TV & Radio
Film student heads for Slovenia
04 Jul 08 |  Norfolk


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific