By Leah Hansen
Recent Ryerson film studies graduates Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg made their TIFF debut this year with Noah, an eye-opening look into the online life of the modern generation.
Featured in the Short Cuts Canada programme, the film centres on Noah Lennox as he breaks up with his girlfriend, Facebook chats with his best friend, browses porn and braves Chatroulette.
The film was originally meant to be about Chatroulette alone, says Woodman. Instead, the two decided to include Noah’s entire online and digital presence. The 17-minute film takes place entirely on Noah’s computer and iPhone screens, something Woodman says took a lot of “thinking inside the box.” A fun project between best friends turned into a bigger deal when Noah was selected for TIFF’s Student Film Showcase. Winning a YouTube Award for Best Canadian Short Film and being entered in the Short Cuts Canada line-up at the festival only took a few months, but the film took almost a year to make, Woodman says.
“The hardest part was making all the fake profiles,” says Woodman.
“We basically had to create an ecosystem of fake accounts. It would look really inauthentic if they only had two friends.” What followed was months of screen captures, live-action filming and animating, continues Woodman.
Even after all the work put into the project, Woodman says he and Cederberg “never imagined that it would be in TIFF.” Publicity and exposure increased dramatically when TIFF released
Noah onto its YouTube page 24 hours after the first festival screening, something the festival offers to all Short Cuts Canada films to give new filmmakers a chance to market themselves online.
“A lot of people seemed to like it, and then it went up on You Tube and things got kind of crazy,” Woodman says. Noah sits at nearly 850,000 views.
Woodman says Ryerson’s film program offered a lot of opportunities to meet potential collaborators but gave
“rules” that neither he nor Cederberg used in the film, such as avoiding copyrighted material.
“I feel like if you do something that is strong or is meaningful, it doesn’t matter what rules people choose for you,” Woodman says.
Cederberg and Woodman met at a Pitman Hall orientation talent show, where they played an acoustic version of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and “brought down the house,” Woodman says, laughing.
Further collaboration between the two is definitely on the table, Woodman says. If the results are as innovative and original as Noah, audiences have a lot to look forward to.