East High Science STARS Named Fast Forward Film Festival Finalist

Michael Ramsey and Kristana TextorEast High School Science STARS were named among the top 12 filmmakers who submitted a short, environment-focused film to the Fast Forward Film Festival this year. East’s senior Michael Ramsey, who wrote, directed, and produced the song for Changes, a film that calls for environmental action through music, will share the honor with his fellow Science STARS filmmakers who collectively participated in the making of the video.

The 2015 Fast Forward Film Festival, scheduled to take place April 17-18, will be the first of its kind. It will highlight up-and-coming and veteran filmmakers whose films have a local environment focus in Rochester. Selected from nearly 100 film submissions, the Science STARS’ film Changes will be screened at The Little Theatre on Fri., Apr. 17 and at the George Eastman House on Sat., Apr. 18 for the Festival Gala.
The idea behind Changes evolved through Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science), a year-long afterschool club where teens connect science with real-life everyday issues, like the environment and homelessness, that are important to them.  Following in-depth scientific investigations that took place in the fall, the Science STARS team chose to look more closely at environmental issues and then focused on honing their literacy skills along with science practices as they worked alongside professional filmmakers and University of Rochester students to create this environment-focused film.
Ramsey, who brought his passion for music, talent, and expertise, wrote the lyrics for the song, which was a remake of Tupac Shakur’s remix of Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is.  “I was very pumped making this song because I know that it is for a good thing,” said Ramsey. “I hope that people will hear this and say, ‘he’s making a song that means something.’ Unlike many songs out there, we are actually attacking the problem and how to change it through this piece.”
A key message that Ramsey hopes will resonate among others is the idea of working together and helping each other to succeed. “We need to ‘come as one,’” he added, “and learn not to fight against each other.” Ramsey, whose songs have often focused on the personal struggles that he’s overcome throughout life, also hopes that the film will inspire others.
In addition to Ramsey, other Science STARS involved in the production of Changes include: Shanquise Albert, Desarai Beasley, Quion Callier, Lucy Lamin, Morgan Linton, John McBride, Sonyalice McGrew, Tamarik Oliver, Emily O’Neil, Keyli Pagan, Curtis Paleja, Dejonta Patterson, and Alana Sturgis.
For all Science STARS filmmakers, this piece has been more about empowerment. It’s given them a voice and an opportunity to make a difference. While it was Ramsey’s vision for the song, the Science STARS collectively helped him to execute it in film.
Science STARSWarner master’s students, who are studying to become science teachers, and doctoral students help oversee the Science STARS program, along with Science STARS director and founder April Luehmann and co-director Andrea Cutt. Doctoral student Kristana Textor, a filmmaker mentor to Science STARS, worked closely with students in the production of the film and took the time to personally get to know them.
For Textor, this experience has taught her a lot about this particular group of teens. “These students are really aware of their own environment and their roles in making things better for the community,” she said. “I hope that the video does what it’s supposed to do, which is to inspire change. There is so much work to be done in Rochester, and I hope that this video sparks interest among others as well.”
The Science STARS filmmakers have learned from their mentors as well. “In addition to coming out to one of my shows to watch me perform, Kristana has helped me to become a better person,” Ramsey added. “She taught me dedication. And, she taught me to be determined.” 
A 2015 Young Filmmaker Scholarship Award, presented by Lori’s Natural Foods Center and the Fast Forward Film Festival, has been awarded to all Science STARS filmmakers to cover their admission and transportation to this year’s festival. Students will enjoy VIP seats at both the Apr. 17 Film Screenings and Apr. 18 Festival Gala.
The Science STARS will also debut their four new films, including Changes, at the 2015 East High Film STARS Red Carpet Premiere on Saturday, April 11, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Cinema Theater.  
Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
(585) 275-0777; (585) 278-6273 (cell)

Tags: Andrea Cutt, April Luehmann, environment, film, Get Real! Science, science, science education, Science STARS