Warner Graduate Has Big Screen Dreams

Brian Bailey remembers the first movie he ever saw.brian baily

“When I was seven, I saw Star Wars with my dad and loved the experience,” says the Warner Ph.D. ‘09 grad who uses film as a form of literacy in teaching. “I have always liked how movies create the possibility for experiencing something outside of your own world.”

Bailey, who studied plant science at Cornell University and educational technology at Nazareth College, researches the need to teach students to be literate across multiple discourse communities and argues that making movies is an important way of using literacy to tell one's story to a real audience. Bailey has witnessed, first hand, how dedicated and inspired young filmmakers can be.

“Many of the students tell their stories and spend hours shooting and editing their movies,” he says. “It is important to them.”

“I am surprised by how few opportunities students have for sustained intellectual engagement in school. Standardization is sucking the life out of schools, and we need more learning experiences that truly engage students in passionate intellectual work.”

To that end, Bailey, working in partnership with East High School art teacher Philip Lange, constructed the Rochester Urban Youth Film Festival (RUYFF) in 2005 as a way to give Rochester City School students the opportunity to show their work publicly.

“I noticed that part of the authenticity in making a film is showing it at a film festival and that the suburban schools had their own festivals but that the Rochester City School District did not,” he says. “I saw the Rochester Urban Youth Film Festival as an opportunity for the larger community to experience the talents and see the stories of urban youth....especially in contrast to the deficit models that are often used to describe urban youth.”

This past May, the Festival partnered—for the second year in a row — with the Rochester/High Falls International Film Festival (R/HFIFF)’s “Young Filmmakers Festival” to produce a collaborative juried media competition for regional youth. Finalists were given free passes to selected films, events and parties. And the Best of Show—“Lockapalloza Rodeo,” a film by 12-year-old Pittsford native Ben Doran — was awarded $500 worth of film stock by Eastman Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division.

Pleased with the festival’s success, Bailey looks ahead to the bigger picture.

“Now we can show urban, suburban, and rural students’ films together and hopefully bridge our highly segregated Greater Rochester community.”

Starting in September, Bailey’s work will continue at Nazareth College, where he will be joining the faculty as an assistant professor in adolescent education. In addition to his teaching, Bailey hopes to create an after-school program on filmmaking in one of the Rochester City School District high schools. He also plans on collaborating with high school teachers in the City School District to get more students to submit their films to the festival.

Tags: Brian Bailey, Rochester Urban Youth Film Festival, youth culture