Walter + Patrick’s Story
How two Ryerson film studies alumni turned their common creative interests into a busy career in the entertainment industry.
It’s crunch time for Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg as they juggle three music recordings, a horror movie, and are flying out to Australia to work on an upcoming show. The image arts: film studies alumni, who met during their first year, now produce film and animation for clients around the world under their creative production company, shy kids. “Walter, I remember leading into first year, invited me out to drinks. It was basically a sit-down to say ‘let’s make stuff!’” Patrick reveals about the two hitting it off and collaborating on projects. “In class, we were known as the shy kids – the kids in the class who were always doodling. I feel like that’s what that image evokes of the shy kids,” says Walter.
Inspired by the likes of Steven Spielberg and David Fincher, Walter and Patrick wanted a jumpstart in creating the next blockbuster film. But in order to become great film producers, they needed to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking at Ryerson, such as editing and shooting video. Going back to the basics also meant working with spools of film, splicing it all together by hand, and a lot of late nights.
“Cutting film manually, you start to see why chop is scissors, why this is tape, you start to understand the mechanics of the more advanced things you were doing by accident. It made you appreciate that if you could do that simple thing then other editing got easier,” says Walter.
The hands-on training helped map out production stages and piece together a final product concisely for class projects, an approach Patrick abides by in his career today. “It forced you to really take a big thought about every creative decision you made, which is very important,” shares Patrick. “When you shot your film, you had two minutes of four hundred dollars of tape. So you had to really know what your shots were going to be and plan them. And when we did move into digital, we took the same application into that, of not just shooting and figuring it out, but actually plan it and think about it. That has really stuck throughout.”
The program brought together students with diverse cinematography backgrounds and proved to be a hub for cultivating cultural literacy. “One of the cool things was that when everyone got into the program [their] favourite movie was like Fight Club,” describes Walter. “And by the end of the year, you had people who branched [off] and were into different kinds of films, and you realize that film isn’t just Steven Spielberg – there are a lot of different genres.”
As budding storytellers, the two appreciated classes that allowed for creative control over screen and script writing, and motivated them to craft new ideas. “It’s often times very scary to put pen to paper; it’s very scary to get people together to make a movie,” says Patrick. “The best thing about a place like Ryerson is that there are all these classes and assignments and reasons you have to go out there and do it.”
In 2013, the pair was awarded the Best Canadian Short Film by the Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) for their fourth-year thesis film, Noah. “In fourth year, every film student is tasked with creating a thesis film, which is basically to take everything everyone’s learned up until that point, and apply it in a crew scenario. [Essentially] A bigger film than what we had been creating,” says Patrick. The unconventional film was shot entirely on a computer screen and of the class had the smallest budget.
Walter recalls debuting the short film and receiving a wave of support from his classmates to submit the film to TIFF’s Shorts Program. “When everyone watched it for the first time, everyone encouraged us to put it in the film festival. Our plan was to simply put it online and hope that people would watch it. From that little choice, we’ve luckily got to make a whole career off of it. The film was first uploaded to TIFF’s YouTube account and subsequently shared over other sites, including Reddit where it garnered 200,000 views within the first day. “I remember when they [TIFF] picked us it was very emotional,” said Walter.
The friends-turned-business partners reflect on Ryerson as a place of support and building long-term friendships.
“Its crazy to see that our friends are traveling the world, and making commercials and music videos,” says Walter, rooting for his former classmates.
“Ryerson was invaluable to us in terms of finding likeminded creative people,” says Patrick.” I was surrounded, for the first time, by people who all wanted to do the same thing as me, and were just as enthusiastic.”