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'Willie' Explores Life, Gifts of Charlottesville Man - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

'Willie' Explores Life, Gifts of Charlottesville Man

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At 21 years old, Zac Grigg is the youngest director in the Virginia Film Festival this year. His film "Willie" highlights a Charlottesville man who has autism and his incredible gift for architecture.

"What's inspiring for me is just to see a great craftsman at work," said Grigg.

William Greenough, or "Willie," has a gift for making models of buildings.

"It's kinda fascinating. They look like miniature buildings to me, the colors, the windows, the doors," said Greenough.

He has been making models for a Charlottesville architecture firm since 1994. It started when he showed the model trains he had carved to an architect.

"It gave him a sense that I could make models if I could make the wooden trains alright like that, I should be able to make the models," said Greenough.

Eighteen years later, that architect's son, Zac Grigg, made a documentary about Willie and the incredible career he has had despite his autism.

"What's inspiring about Willie is that he has autism but what this documentary kinda shows, is how little of a detail that really is," said Grigg.

Now the film "Willie" has made it to the Virginia Film Festival.

"It's a local piece and I think you know for people that live in Charlottesville it's always interesting to see kind of the hidden gems that you maybe would've missed if you didn't see the film," said Grigg.

For these lifelong friends, the film shares a part of their lives that they believe audiences can connect with.

"Hopefully it'll help people understand how really more alike we are than we are different," said Grigg.

"Willie" is playing Sunday morning at 11:00 at the University of Virginia's Newcomb Hall. Grigg and Greenough will be at the theater to answer audience questions after the screening.

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