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Film student remembered for passion, work ethic

by Beacon Staff • April 21, 2011

Craig Brooke-Weiss said he remembers his stepson Justin Amorratanasuchad, a junior visual and media arts major who passed away Sunday morning, as an enthusiastic filmmaker and a man with such strong character and clear direction.

“We lost an amazing human being,” Brooke-Weiss said in a phone interview. “We lost a young, talented human being with a full, caring, big heart, big mind, who got the big picture. He was open to feedback, and willing to take it.

Classmates and professors said they remember a junior visual and media arts major who passed away Sunday morning, as an passionate and keen-eyed filmmaker.

Lynne Hartwell, a junior in Amorratanasuchad’s introductory photography course, said classmates circled up yesterday and shared memories of the 21-year-old who tragically fell from a roof in the South End last weekend while filming a class project.

“He was always really passionate about everything he was doing,” Hartwell said. “He’s just one of those people that, as soon as you meet him, you feel like you’ve known him forever.”

She said the Seattleite dreamed of moving to Los Angeles after graduation, closer to his family on the West Coast.

“For our self portraits for that class, he showed us pictures of him holding a framed picture of his parents,” she said. “He told us that his parents were his best friends.”

Brooke-Weiss said he is grateful to have befriended Amorratanasuchad in the past few years and feels privileged to have been part of a family with him.

The stepfather said he watched Amorratanasuchad’s passion for film grow early on, stemming from his love of skateboarding. As a teenager, he said his stepson would make skateboard videos with his friends, occasionally acting out skits.

“Skateboarding was his main other hobby, and he loved watching films and discussing films,” Brooke-Weiss said. “He’d watch anything, and try and find what was good in it.”

Professor Frank Coleman, who assigned the cinematography project Amorratanasuchad was believed to be working on Sunday morning, said the junior was a passionate film student with a sharp eye for photography.

“You could see right from the stuff he shot and showed in class, he seemed to live and breathe this stuff,” the adjunct said. “We talked after class several times and he showed me what he was doing. He was very easy going and fun loving, everyone enjoyed being around him. You could always work easily with him; he had a ready smile.”

Coleman said he remembered Amorratanasuchad capturing innovative shots with his skateboard, which he often toted around under his arm.

“There were one or two times when we were experimenting withs low motion effect,” he said. “He would do maneuvers on his skateboard that were perfect analyzing different angles.”

Amorratanasuchad achieved early success in high school, winning the National Student Television Award Emmy during his 2008 senior year at Ballard High School for his short film “Spaced Out.”

Professor Miranda Banks, who taught Amorratanasuchad in her television seminar last semester, and said she admired her classmate and enjoyed hearing his input to class discussions.

“He was engaged and curious. He was a thoughtful writer and reader,” she said. “I’m heartbroken; he was a really special.”

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing, said to the Boston Globe that Coleman spoke about safety as the number one priority in the class, saying that the “mantra of the class was ‘safety first.’’’