North Wales director sets film world on fire

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A new horror film written and directed by a man from Llandudno receives rave reviews from film critics.

Russell Owen’s dark and atmospheric horror film called “Shepherd” has been nominated for the official selection at the upcoming BFI London Film Festival 2021, a huge accolade.

The plot revolves around a man fleeing grief after the mysterious death of his wife, taking up a job as a shepherd.

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Trapped alone on a weather-beaten island with a disturbing secret.

The main role is played by Tom Hughes, best known for playing Prince Albert in the television series Victoria. Hughes stars alongside Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones) and Greta Scacchi, star of the films Presumed Innocent and The Player and cost around $ 5 million to make.

The film received a four-star rating from Total Film magazine and the Empire horror film critic loved it so much that Russell admits he almost gushed when he spoke to him.



Owen Russell’s ‘Shepherd’ movie poster.

The premiere will take place in November at Curzon Soho to mark Russell’s 40th birthday.

His dream of becoming a filmmaker hardly took off when a school guidance counselor Ysgol John Bright advised him against it, saying he didn’t have the right connections and it would be too hard.

“He suggested I should get a job in IT instead, but thank goodness I didn’t listen to him because I wanted to be a filmmaker since I saw Jaws when I was five,” said Russell laughing.

He says his inspiration for storytelling started in North Wales. He studied illustration and scriptwriting at UCA (University of Creative Arts). after completing a basic arts course at Coleg Menai. After graduating he moved to London, working as a production assistant on the horror film “An American Haunting” with Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek.

After working for Nickelodeon, ITV, BBC and Channel 4 in 2008, Russell directed his first short Anglesey Road, which won several awards.

He has done dozens of commercials for brands such as American Express, Armani, L’Oréal, Specsavers and Diageo. He met a few stars along the way, including David Beckham with whom he traveled to Shanghai, Scotland and Milan, doing commercials for football legend Haig’s whiskey brand.



David Beckham in a tuxedo
David Beckham in a tuxedo

“David Beckham is so sweet, when he walks into a room there is a real presence around him,” said Russell.

“Tom Cruise came to one of Beckham’s parties and nobody knew he was coming, so it was a surprise. I met him very briefly and he looks really sweet and not that small that I expected.

“I also met Harrison Ford at a charity event in the men’s washroom. There was a security guard outside, which I found a little odd, then Indiana Jones was washing his hands in the washbasin.



Harrison Ford arrives at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills
Harrison Ford arrives at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills

“I didn’t say anything, but he gave me that kind of Harrison Ford half-smile.”

Russell had wanted to shoot Shepherd in Wales, but in the end it was shot on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

“Unfortunately we got more support from the Scottish Film Commission than from the Welsh government which is a shame but I filmed a bit of it on Marine Drive on the Great Orme and used Llysfaen’s quarry for a scene, ”he explained.

“It took me 16 years from writing this story to making it happen. It’s been a long road because the movie industry is tough.

“My dream job would be to make a Bond film, I’ll just have to persuade producer Barbara Broccoli but I’ll have to do a few more films first.”



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He added: “My lead actor Tom Hughes is being pitched as a candidate for the upcoming 007 and I think he would be great.”

‘Shepherd’ will be screened in a special screening in Pontio, Bangor, next January, with a Q&A with Russell.

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