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Originally published Monday, April 18, 2011 at 6:47 AM

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Seattle student who died in fall remembered as creative filmmaker

A Seattle student at Emerson College in Boston died Sunday morning after he fell from the top of a five-story off-campus building while filming for a school project.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A young Seattle filmmaker who died after falling from a building in Boston Sunday is remembered by family and friends as talented, smart and witty.

"He was just one of those people that really left an impact on everybody's life," said high-school friend Annalee Millar. "Even now, as hard as it is, I can't think about any time we spent together without smiling because he was just such a light in everyone's life."

Justin Amorratanasuchad, a 21-year-old film-production major at Emerson College, was filming a school project on top of an off-campus apartment building when he fell. A preliminary investigation indicates the fall was an accident, according to police.

The Ballard High School graduate had taken film classes since middle school. Michael Hipp, a friend from high school, worked on several films with him.

"Out of everyone in the class, I always pictured him as the one who would make it," the University of Washington junior said.

Mr. Amorratanasuchad was able to see a whole project in his head, Hipp said. Once, when Hipp forgot to bring the storyboard, or film outline, to a shoot, the team was still able to work because Mr. Amorratanasuchad "had memorized the entire storyboard, shot by shot."

Although he was a professional when it came to his films, Mr. Amorratanasuchad was a goofball, too, said Evangeline Spracklin, a friend from high school.

He loved talking in funny accents and making weird faces, even speaking baby talk to his well-loved dog, Roxy, Spracklin said.

Craig Brooke-Weiss, Mr. Amorratanasuchad's stepfather, remembers seeing him enact an elaborate story using shadow puppets when he was young. Once, when it was Mr. Amorratanasuchad's turn to wash a formidable stack of family dishes, Brooke-Weiss said his stepson got through it singing "this awesome, awesome dish song."

"He was so original," Brooke-Weiss said. "He thought out of the box."

Mr. Amorratanasuchad earned a full scholarship to The Northwest School, a private high school on Capitol Hill. His parents urged him to take advantage of the financial aid, but he wanted to go to Ballard High School because it had a film-production program. After a few months at Northwest he transferred, and in his first semester at Ballard he won a film award.

"Whenever he put his mind to something, he did it," Brooke-Weiss said.

Besides his passion for filmmaking, Mr. Amorratanasuchad loved music and played piano and guitar. He skateboarded and could often be found doing tricks at the Ballard Civic Center Park.

"He was fearless," Brooke-Weiss said.

When Mr. Amorratanasuchad was filming atop the building in Boston on Sunday, he already had gotten a great shot, Brooke-Weiss said. But he was going for something even better.

"I'm sure ... he was just excited," Brooke-Weiss said. "Not thinking about his life, just thinking about his art."

In addition to his stepfather, Mr. Amorratanasuchad is survived by his mother, Blair Brooke-Weiss, of Seattle; a brother, Jesse Amorratanasuchad, of Seattle; a stepbrother, Levi Carbonell-Weiss, of Seattle; his half-sisters, Eve and May Amorratanasuchad, of Thailand; and his grandparents, Robert Brooke, of Phoenix, and Dallas and Ellen Mustoe, of England. He was preceded in death by his father, Thawon Amorratanasuchad, and a grandmother, Mary Beth Brooke, of Phoenix.

His parents said they're in the process of planning a memorial service in Seattle. They also plan to start a fund in his honor to support his high school's film program.

For information on donations to the Ballard High film program, contact: Matt

Lawrence, 206-252-1117 or

mplawrence@seattleschools.org.

Brittney Wong: 206-464-3195 or bwong@seattletimes.com

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