Short film aims to 'spark' careers for women in STEM

Sometimes it takes only one moment to inspire a young person for the rest of his or her life. 

In the Twin Cities, a group called “Spark” is hoping to spur those moments through a short film anyone can watch online. 

The five-minute film is called “Spark Moments” and the goal is to prove that careers in STEM are open to anyone, especially women. It only takes that little spark. 

“I just want a lot of girls to see it and feel inspired, feel encouraged, and see that they have a place and that they belong. They belong on the screen, they belong in these fields, and they can pursue their dreams,” said Spark Director and Producer Maribeth Romslo.

The film features the stories of five female pioneers in STEM. They are portrayed by actresses, showing younger versions of themselves. 

Fourteen-year-old Harper Yang is a freshman at Edina High School. She was cast in the film this summer, which was shot over four days. 

“I play Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya and she is a scientist, but she's also with the arts,” Yang said. “A lot of people think that you can only be either, you're a math person or you're a music person. You're a visual artist or you do science. And it's not as concrete as that.”

Romslo crafted the film’s concept after interviewing women around the world. For each woman, she learned there was a single moment that changed everything.

“We kind of meet them on their journey at a point where they felt encouraged or inspired or they had that spark of realization that they wanted to do something in STEM,” Romslo said.

Every scene was shot in the Twin Cities, including a library scene at the James J. Hill Center in downtown St. Paul. 

Romslo calls the song in the film an “anthem.” It is called “Bright,” written and performed by local singer and songwriter Lisa McGuire. 

“Could I really be that big, or could I really be that extraordinary, and that's what the song is about,” McGuire said.

“I love the message of having women and children and girls just being inspired and encouraged to be a part of STEM, and that's not as usual as you see it in the media, but it's definitely growing and I love that,” Yang said.

“I think it's really important to see that people pioneer ahead of us and that they are blazing a trail for us, and that you can also blaze a trail for other girls behind you,” Romslo said.

To watch and share the film, click here.