Symbiosis Competition 2017
Supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation.
At the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival, our yearly short film competition will once again bring together scientists and filmmakers to create a science-inspired short film, this time involving our theme of Hybrid-Identity and taking place over the course of one week.
SYMBIOSIS participants have been selected! A warm welcome to our 12 scientists and filmmakers, who will be paired up on Imagine Science 10th Annual Film Festival's Opening Night.
Symbiosis Scientists
Alexandra Grote
Alexandra Grote is a PhD candidate at New York University where she studies parasitic nematodes. Trained as a molecular biologist, she is seeking to incorporate computational biology into the study of host-pathogen interactions for the development of novel drug therapies. She received her BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley where she studied fungal biology and ecology. She then moved on to study the biophysics of bacterial cell growth and movement at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science before pursuing her PhD.
Joel Simon
Joel Simon studied Computer Science and Art before getting involved in bioinformatics. At Rockefeller University he works on developing computational tools to analyze the immune system. He is very interested in the intersection between biology, computer science, and design. Outside of the lab, Joel develops virtual evolution simulations. When not on the computer, he designs and builds lamps, which he will barter for artwork.
Huayi Wei
Huayi Wei is pursuing her doctorate in Neuroscience at New York University. Through her current research, she aims to understand the biological circuits that allow us to see things in motion. In high school and college respectively, Huayi participated in the 48-hour Film Festival and directed a Halloween-themed short-film. For her, filmmaking is like doing scientific research—it's a process of finding answers to questions through artful crafting and intensive teamwork.
Campbell Watson
Campbell Watson is an atmospheric scientist with IBM Research and The Weather Company, where he helps build new models in environmental monitoring and remediation. He holds a PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Melbourne (2013) and completed his postdoctoral research at Yale University (2013–2015). Campbell recently completed a six month Fellowship at New Lab, care of Science Sandbox, where he worked on his pet project, Weather for the People. He's spoken about the mysteries of cumulus clouds over Dominica at a pub in Brooklyn, and written about the strangeness of surfing a man-made wave in the heart of Texas.
Ramin Rahni
Ramin Rahni is a biology graduate student at New York University, studying regeneration in plant roots. Using live imaging, he makes tiny time lapse films of growing and regenerating roots to try and understand how a root (re)assembles itself. When he's not at the microscope, he splits his time between playing music and creating animated explainers of biological concepts. He is godfather to many cats across Brooklyn.
John Steele
John Steele is the founder, publisher, and editorial director of Nautilus, the online and print science magazine. He has previously worked at IMG/Fortmann Little, Critheann Entertainment, NBC and CBS News.

Symbiosis Filmmakers
Giulia Grossman
Carl Zimmer writes books, articles, essays, and blog posts in which he reports from the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life. Since 2013 he has been a columnist at the New York Times, where his column "Matter" appears each week. He is a popular speaker at universities, medical schools, museums, and festivals, and he is also a frequent on radio programs such as Radiolab and This American Life. In 2016, Zimmer won the Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science.
Summer Ash
Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University's Department of Astronomy. She is the "In­House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for Scientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine.

Tim McHenry
Tim McHenry is director of public programs and performance at the Rubin Museum of Art, presenting theater-going audiences with what The Huffington Post has called "some of the most original and inspired programs on the arts and consciousness in New York City." While the museum's onstage conversations have become a trademark (in particular the popular series of Brainwave -– soon in its seventh year), McHenry specializes in art experiences that break the traditional mold, such as the Dream-Over — a sleepover at the museum for grown-ups — and an event that converted the museum building into an olfactory Memory Palace.
David Schwartz
David Schwartz is Chief Curator of the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City, and a contributor to the Museum's new website Moving Image Source. He is also a lecturer in Cinema Studies at Purchase College.
Rachel Chanoff
Rachel Chanoff has been working in performing arts and film for 35 years and is the founder and director of THE OFFICE performing arts + film, her New York City-based programming, consulting, and production company. She is the Curator of Performing Arts and Film for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), Director of Programming of the CenterSeries at the '62 Center for Theater and Dance at Williams College, Consultant to the Feature Film and Theater Programs for theSundance Institute and to the RAWI screenwriters lab in Jordan, Curator of The New York Jewish Film Festival and The Margaret Mead Film Festival, and the Artistic Director of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, New York's longest running free outdoor performing arts festival. Rachel is proud to serve on the board of the 52nd Street Project and Working Films. She is also a long time participant in the Theater Development Fund's Open Doors program, which introduces underserved high school students to the theater. Professional highlight: standing shoulder to shoulder with Prince in the wings at Celebrate Brooklyn! before his surprise performance.
John Steele
John Steele is the founder, publisher, and editorial director of Nautilus, the online and print science magazine. He has previously worked at IMG/Fortmann Little, Critheann Entertainment, NBC and CBS News.

Films are created over the course of our festival October 13-20.

On opening night, 6 filmmakers and 6 scientists will be randomly paired and sent off into the city to begin filmmaking with a $2500 stipend in hand. On Monday, October 16 at the Bowery Arts+Science , all pairs will meet with the public to go over cinematic works-in-progress and presentation of scientific feedback. The audience assisted by Tribeca Film Institute will provide feedback, and all final films will be screened on our closing night, October 20, when a winner will be selected!

While the overarching Imagine Science Film Festival theme this year is HYBRID, for symbiosis, we'll be focusing on a specific sub-theme of IDENTITY.

How does a recombinant genome shape an individual? How does a multi-faceted or interdisciplinary origin shape the concerns of the present? How do many factors create a cohesive identity?
    Rules & Guidelines
    The SYMBIOSIS Film Competition challenges 6 team pairs comprised of both scientists and filmmakers to create a short film in just 1 week.

    Participants will have 7 days to write, shoot, edit, and score their film. They are asked to follow the guidelines below or else will not be eligible for the award:

    All creative work must take place within the "1 Week Time Period".

    Any work created in advance of the competition period will be prohibited. This includes Scriptwriting, Shooting, Costume & Set design, Use of preexisting footage. Specific requests should be forwarded to us at

    Participants are allowed to announce their involvement as of September 15. Note that participants are only paired during the festival. The only initial preparation that may be started prior to the festival includes the following: Securing Equipment, Finding Possible Crew/Cast, Scouting/Securing Locations.

    Filmmakers and scientists will be given stipends of $2500 per pair and this can be used for cast/crew. Cast/crew cannot be paid beyond this allotted stipend.

    Both scientist & filmmaker should work equally in all aspects of production and be engaged in the process together. They will be asked to talk about their collaboration several times and this will be a factor in choosing the winning the film.

    All participants must attend three open key dates: Opening Night (Oct 13), Lab meeting & Reception (Oct 16), Closing Night (October 20). A no show will automatically disqualify you from the final award. Certain exceptions are possible upon request.

    Total runtime of film must be between no less 3 minutes and no more than 5 minutes.

    Each film will begin with a brief slate, with TITLE, NAME OF BOTH PARTICIPANTS. At the end, please add IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS LOGO.

    Delivered files should be Quicktime ProRes or H264 in HD (720p or 1080p).

    The entrant shall not distribute or advertise their film in any way during the competition period.

    Films belong to the filmmaker/scientist and can be shared online after the competition. Imagine Science Films reserves the right to showcase the film on science video platform LABOCINE after the competition.
    Awards & Jury
    The jury includes members from our partners at Tribeca Film Institute.

    All participants get a free pass to all events of the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival.

    The winning film of the Symbiosis Film Competition will be awarded a cash prize by Tribeca Film Institute and featured via our sponsors and partners.

    1st Prize: $2K Music Licensing Package and 2nd Prize: $1K Music Licensing Package courtesy of Konsonant Music.

    All six films will be aired in a dedicated Labocine Spotlight after the festival and for the entire month of November and featured at Imagine Science Films News Sections.

    Symbiosis applications will be accepted through August 15th. Participants and jury to be announced by end of August. Stay tuned!
    Key Dates
    October 13 – Six filmmakers and six scientists are announced at the Opening Night of the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    October 16 – Lab Meeting with all participants with the participation of the Tribeca Film Institute.
    October 20 – Films are screened and the winner is announced at the Closing Night of 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    Symbiosis animation from our friends at Rooftop Animation below!
    Made on