Quirky, radical, determined, curious, optimistic, authentic, unique, kind.
These are the words that everyone who meets Walter use to describe him. Viewers of this film experience Walter in a mind-trip that is both wonderful and inspiring. The challenges facing him right now would mow down most of us, but Walter faces them with curiosity and courage.
Walter brings the dreams of others into the real world. For over thirty years he has been beloved by film directors, actors, production designers, and above all skilled camera people spanning generations. When you see a Star Trek phaser, Will Smith’s built-in Deadshot Glocks, Robocop’s sidearm, the tanks in the Shape of Water, space suits in The Expanse, Scott Pilgrim’s sword, you are seeing Walter. When you see Martin Scorsese’s epic Steadicam shots, mind-boggling action in Fast and Furious, an actor’s POV wearing the camera… it is Walter.
Film & TV Credits:
Walter lives and works in an indescribable factory/curiosity shop. A life-size, realistic model of X-Men’s Mystique stands next to an animatronic moose in a warehouse jammed with layers of movie history. On the shop floor, thirty employees work with remarkable focus on uncannily realistic movie props alongside Steadicam harnesses and other pro film equipment. Laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC machines, and shops specializing in leather, paint, and carbon fiber generate a constant hum.
Walter lives above this remarkable workshop in a wood-heated home that feels like a log cabin in the woods, despite being in the heart of the Toronto’s industrial port. Step outside into a lush rooftop garden including rows of tomatoes and basil, an orchid room, and a couple (now-legal) marijuana plants. Soaring above it all is the “treehouse,” a glass enclosed loft that provides a 360-degree view of the city that is about to swallow Walter’s building whole.
It is hard to comprehend that his winter, Walter’s entire world will be razed to the ground. The government is forcing him to move out, to build a public transport hub where his century-old former soap factory now stands. Toronto is expanding at a rate so rapid you can see the high rises creeping closer to Walter’s studio. Soon this place that brings dreams into the material world will be swallowed up by a city that values money over magic. Walter understands this. His crew also knows that their move to a much larger warehouse will allow them to expand into a SFX giant. Right now, they can barely keep up with the endless flow of work.
But embracing change does not reduce the pain of saying goodbye to so many memories.
Walter has recently developed Parkinson’s disease. The telltale tremor affects his lifelong ability to work with his hands. But his mind and energy are operating at full velocity and his curiosity is piqued by his body’s irregular impulses. It is just electricity and mechanics, of which he is a master. He is determined to study his own tremor and invent a way to control it. And he has other magician’s tricks up his sleeve that he says will be his greatest innovations yet.
The wrecking ball will come, and the building will come down. The business is moving, and Walter has found a new place to live. This film is not a tragedy about things coming to an end. It is a remarkable odyssey that ends in the rebirth of something new.
The film follows Walter’s remarkable journey through his eyes, with joy and wonder.
Walter Klassen was born in Curitiba, Brazil in 1947. His family were German Mennonites who emigrated to Canada in 1956. Klassen studied Mechanical Engineering and worked for three years as an engineer in pipeline design. In the early 1970’s, Walter joined a hippie commune in Germany, which allowed him to explore artistic endeavours such as sculpting, moulding, leathermaking and mask-making. Walter eventually returned to Toronto in 1978 and became engrossed with film and television production, drawing on his expertise in mechanical engineering in front of and behind the lens. In 1988, Walter opened a prop studio called Walter Klassen FX. Since then, Walter and his team of designers have created hundreds of key props for television and film including animatronics that have been featured in acclaimed films for over thirty years.
Gary Lang is an accomplished Executive Producer and Showrunner specializing in unscripted storytelling for international television. In the past quarter century Lang has directed, written, or produced over three hundred award-winning and high-rated programs seen by billions worldwide. Top broadcasters include WarnerDiscovery, A+E, PBS, Disney/National Geographic, and Vice. Lang’s areas of interest and expertise cover a vast number of subjects, including science, technology, film, music, pop culture, natural history, archaeology, and exploration. All these programs are distinguished by their attention to story, access, and high production values.
Melissa Campbell founded Contentum Consulting + Management in 2018 after over a decade in the Reality Television agency business. As an agent, and eventual Head of the Unscripted Television department, Campbell packaged shows for broadcast, cable, and streaming with a varied client list of production companies and showrunners. She started agency life at the Gersh Agency, and prior to that, pioneered the short-form entertainment division at Plum Productions. Today, she works with prodcos and producers in Australia, Canada, U.K., and the U.S., honing pitches, deepening relationships, and crafting unique deals.