While many of us have stories of hardship and struggle, few have the incredible journey that writer and director Cedric Pattinson has had to follow to get to where he is today. After spending more than a decade as a struggling filmmaker, he finally made the leap into writing and directing with his award-winning debut, The Red Turtle. Since then, he has not looked back as he continues to impress audiences and critics alike with each new project he releases. We had the chance to speak with him about his remarkable journey and his upcoming projects.
The Early Years
Cedric Pattinson was born in London to a Welsh mother and an English father, and spent his early years in Wales before moving to London when he was five years old. He has four older brothers and one younger sister, and describes his family as being very supportive of his creative endeavours. Even when he was a child, he knew he wanted to be involved in making movies and would often ask his father if he could be an assistant director when he grew up. His father would always say no until one day when he got an unexpected call from a production company asking if there was anyone available to direct their next film. At that point, he realized he might just have the career he always dreamed of having. When he initially graduated with a film degree from the University of Surrey in 2013, he began working as an assistant to a number of filmmakers, gaining invaluable experience from working in film and TV studios around the world.
Getting To Know The World Of Creatives
One of the great things about working in creative industries is getting the opportunity to get to know and work with so many different types of people. While most of us are aware of the struggle that writers and directors face to get their projects made, it’s often not so obvious to those outside of the industry that this is a world inhabited mostly by creative individuals looking to make a difference with their work. By virtue of being in a creative industry, you will frequently come across people whose passion for creating is matched only by their passion for supporting other creators. Cedric has spoken about this before, saying that The Red Turtle is a movie that any creative person could find inspiration in. The story is about a man who embarks on a journey to save the life of a rare red turtle that he comes across in the streets of New York. Like most of Cedric’s films, The Red Turtle is based on a real-life experience where he met a young woman named Isabella at a cafe in Soho in the early 2000s. They became friends and he helped her with her filmmaking projects, which led to him writing and directing the film she produced. Not only does it inspire creative people, but it’s also one of the most positive depictions of female friendship ever put to film. In an age where many stories are dominated by negative headlines, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker put a positive spin on story and characters so successfully. It really is a gift.
The Making Of ‘The Red Turtle’
To make The Red Turtle, Cedric first wrote the script in 2006. He had been working as an assistant director on a movie about British boxing champions at the time and had gotten so much inspiration from the stories of those he’d worked with. The screenplay was initially intended to be more like a novel. He had always enjoyed novels and found that when he wrote the characters in his head, they would often come alive as fully-fledged people. He decided to put his experience as a creative mind to work and see if he could make the characters he had created on the page into real, living breathing creatures. Luckily, he had a friend who was a producer and got him in contact with a German production company that helped make his dream come true and funded the project. In 2015, it was finally released to theaters across the country and garnered mostly positive reviews, with many critics calling it one of the best independent films of the year. It also earned him a place on several best-of lists, including those kept by IndieWire, The Hollywood Reporter, and Screencrush.
A Steady Hand At The Keystroke
Even the most dedicated creators need to find time to work, so whilst he was still putting the final touches on The Red Turtle, Cedric began looking for opportunities to direct other films. He had always been keen to test himself as a director and after having completed The Red Turtle, he knew that this was a world he wanted to be a part of. Working with a production company in Vancouver called Affinity Creative, he got the chance to direct a short film called Bears. After that, he went back to England to direct a music video for a band called Chvrches and then finally returned to Vancouver to shoot the film version of The Red Turtle. The experience of working with a film crew again was something new for him and he found that whilst he loved spending time with his family, he really enjoyed the camaraderie of a working group. He knew, however, that this was a transition stage for him as a filmmaker and that he needed to keep looking for opportunities to direct more films, somewhere down the line, perhaps even returning to The Red Turtle at some point. As he points out, one film cannot make or break a filmmaker’s career, but it’s often the start of something bigger. To date, Cedric has made a name for himself as one of the most in-demand younger creative directors in the industry, with numerous projects on his itinerary for 2019.