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Interview: MDM Grad Heading to MIPTV as 1 of 5 New Producers to Watch

Apr 04, 2013 By Crissy Campbell

When Ryan Nadel graduated from the Master of Digital Media program back in April 2010, there were no jobs that appealed to him. Figuring that he could generate his own work, he started 8 Leaf Digital Productions, a digital media company that works on health, education and entertainment projects.

One of the first projects Nadel did after graduating was MetaMaus, an interactive exploration of the creative and historical content behind the making of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrated narrative Maus. The DVD was included with Spiegelman’s book MetaMaus when it was released in October 2011.

Last year, the entertainment side of 8 Leaf Digital Productions went under the umbrella of one of Vancouver’s top technology companies, Zeros 2 Heroes Media, and Nadel joined as Partner and Creative Director. Nadel continues to produce excellent work and was recently selected by Telefilm Canada as 1 of 5 'new producers to watch' to attend the MIPTV conference in Cannes, France. 

We sat down to chat with Nadel about what he’s been up to since graduating, his upcoming trip to MIPTV and what advice he has for future MDM students.

The following is a recent interview with Ryan Nadel at the Zeros 2 Heroes Media offices. 

Can you give us a brief history of your career since you graduated from the MDM program?

When I graduated, I started a company called 8 Leaf Digital Productions. We focused on two areas —one was education and health, and the other was entertainment. On the entertainment side of things, I was working very closely with a company called Zeros 2 Heroes as a contractor. Over the years that relationship formalized and this past year I joined Zeros 2 Heroes as a partner in the studio. The digital media entertainment components of my business are now are under the umbrella of Z2H and 8 Leaf still focuses on education—developing software platforms for teachers and students.

Ryan Nadel at the Zeroes 2 Heroes Offices

What is your role at Z2H?

My role here is Partner and Creative Director so I’m responsible for strategic leadership along with the 3 other partners, in addition to day-to-day working with the production teams.

How did MDM help you in your career?

The Master of Digital Media program gave me 3 things. One was it helped me define my role when it came to digital media projects. As a non-technician, I’m not an engineer by training and it really helped me understand where my value is in a project.

In addition, the program gave me the confidence and context to work with clients and the ability to communicate design solutions for different projects.

The program also gave me the creative confidence to work with big projects and important, high profile products and know that I could deliver on them, because we did that within the context and safety of the school.

And you’re an industry partner at CDM as well as a faculty member?

Right now I’m just an industry partner. I’ve previously been a faculty advisor and next term I’ll be a faculty advisor again. I like to be able to share what I’ve learned, both as a student and as a professional.

Can you tell me a bit about the industry project that you have MDM students working on right now?

The students are currently working on a community-driven social media application that’s focused on WWI and the centennial anniversary, which is coming up in 2014. At the same time, Zeros 2 Heroes is developing a television show and an IP around the same themes and ideas—the human experience during the war. The student project is wrapping up in April and the main project is just kicking off now. The student’s work will be a big part of our presentations and packages.

Tell me about the award you’ve been nominated for.

I was selected by Telefilm Canada as 1 of 5 'new producers to watch' to attend the MIPTV conference in Cannes, France. It’s basically the equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival for television.

What advice would you give to students who are just finished the MDM program? What about to those who will be starting in September?

For anyone finishing the program, I think the most important thing is to appreciate how broad the applications of digital media are and not to only look at where they’ve been applied but also where they have yet to be applied. That goes beyond games, beyond healthcare, to every industry. Don’t limit yourself to where you think your skills fit.

And for people going in to the program, it’s important not to pigeonhole yourself by your technical skills. For example, as a graphic designer you have input and ideas that can shape a project holistically. MDM will give you the ability to bridge the connections between your expertise and everything else that’s required to deliver a project.


Ryan will be speaking at MIPTV on April 9thas 1 of 5 talented young producers specially selected to speak on the 50th anniversary of MIPTV.