RIT/NTID alumnus shares journey as a filmmaker
Rydrea Walker, ’19 (design and imaging technology) is an independent filmmaker with 14 years of experience in producing awe-inspiring films in visual media. As a Deaf filmmaker who hopes to bring Deaf culture to the big screen in Hollywood, he owns WarriorsGate Entertainment (formerly named Walker ASL Pictures), a film production company that provides video production services for clients.
This past spring as part of the NTID Diversity and Inclusion’s BIPOC Financial Awareness Program, Walker gave a presentation to RIT/NTID students about his journey as a filmmaker and how he started his company. The title of his presentation was “Building a Business like an Empire.”
Walker told students in a virtual classroom that he found a passion for filmmaking at a young age after seeing his father use an old camcorder to shoot a film during a family reunion.
Looking back to 2013, when he was a high school student at Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Walker and other students participated in the Technology Fair Competition at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, to showcase their short films. Ultimately, he finished third place for his short movie titled “Bob Movie.”
“We were invited to a stage at JSU with thousands of people watching my film, and I was so nervous,” he remembered. “I didn’t know what they would think of my film, but they liked it after watching it. After announcing that I received third place for the best film, I walked onto the stage and I remembered seeing the audience cheer with their hands waving in the air. It made me feel so proud. Those cheers helped me realize that I wanted to establish my own business someday.”
He said because of his talents in filmmaking, some faculty and RIT/NTID alumni encouraged him to apply to RIT/NTID, where he could develop skills, meet people from all over the world, and network.
While attending RIT/NTID, Walker spent a summer internship with Sorenson Communications as a marketing intern in Salt Lake City, Utah, where his roles and responsibilities included creating video content to promote customer success stories, internal company announcements, and other enterprise-wide projects. The following year, he joined the NTID Morpheyes Studio as a co-creative producer focused on developing video content to help brands tell their stories to Hollywood.
After graduating from RIT/NTID in 2019, Walker returned to his film production to grow his company based in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
He has worked with clients to produce stories featuring deaf successes, including deaf actress Lauren Ridloff, deaf business-owned H&G Movers, and Nature and Forest Therapy Guide. Since his featured works have generated attention, Walker has received financial support from companies and organizations for providing videography services at weddings, reunions, schools, and sporting events.
While still operating his film business, Walker currently works at Indiana School for the Deaf as a paraprofessional educator and sports videographer. He recently joined Deaf Missions as part of a film crew working closely with the director to provide film support to the organization.
Walker hopes to continue producing stories through film to help entertainment companies to improve opportunities for deaf actors and actresses so that they can break into the film industry.
He encouraged students to build a business like an empire. He also advised them the importance of networking with experienced professionals within the business world, whether it be in the field of film, accounting, banking, sports, food and beverages, and others.