Q&A: Video professor Limarenko talks Traverse City Film Festival, student work


Broadcast and Cinematic Arts faculty Eric Limarenko interacts with graduate student Kayla Coonie in Moore Hall 185 on Oct. 13.

Eric Limarenko has been teaching students in the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts the intricacies of film making since 2009. He currently teaches three classes on video production, ranging from basic to graduate level.

Some of his past work includes editing commercials for companies like Ford and Wendy’s and working with musicians Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band and Trey Anastasio of Phish. Most recently, his reputation brought him to lead a lecture on low-budget filmmaking at the Traverse City Film Festival this summer.

CM LIFE: What did you do at the festival?

Limarenko: There’s a program at the festival called “Film School” that allows people to attend a lecture. I believe it's $5 a ticket and experts speak on different topics. I did one last year and they invited me back again this year to talk about filming video on a budget – mainly about the use of lighting on a budget.

What is recruitment like at the festival?

People at the lectures tend to be looking to get in the film industry. Having the College of Communication and Fine Arts and BCA attend gets those people excited and helps brand Central Michigan University. Being seen with the same signage that also features Michigan State University and University of Michigan puts us on the same level.

What were the specifics on what you spoke about?

We were looking at investing in production gear you’d really need. I can simply buy a $3 piece of poster board and use the white for the poster board to bounce off light, instead of buying expensive lights. When you handle hot lights, you can go to Menards and get gardening gloves that will work just as well for that purpose. We also talked about the recent influx of LED lights. We talked about different time lighting setups like the traditional three-point lighting and using room lighting and sunlight. We also looked at what sort of look you can get from what position the sun is in the sky with the magic hour and sunrise hour.

What is the “magic hour?”

The "magic hour" is the hour right before the sun's going down. It gives you a certain look that can’t be replicated. A good example of it in practice is the film "Days of Heaven," which was shot primarily during the magic hour.

Did you show any of your work  at the festival? 

We are able to showcase CMU work, so we played films from the BCA 521 cinematography class. We also showed some collaboration films with Heather Beardslee’s dance class and Jay Batzner’s music class. The last thing we showed was my short film, Whatnots. It’s made up of 13 music videos based on the album I wrote and performed. They’re linked together to make one narrative, so it's like my version of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

Were there other films from students or professors featured at the festival?

We had one of our graduate students, Mason Flick, show his documentary “Ithaca: The Climb,” which was shown at the Opera House in Traverse City. 

It was sold out and there were people standing in line to see if they could get in. It was an exciting night; there was a great reception and applause. Unfortunately, Mason couldn't come due to a prior engagement, so myself and CCFA dean Janet Hethorn did a Q&A after the session and we answered the questions we could about the film and specifically the CCFA because this is also a recruiting event for us.

What are you working on now?

I've got three documentaries happening right now. One is in post-production and that is called "Nor a Drop to Drink" and that's with a sociology professor, Cedric Taylor, and it's about the Flint Water Crisis. Cedric shot it and did all the interviews and he came to me and asked me if I could edit it. 

The other one is about women in radio and the challenges they face, specifically on air but all positions in radio, and that's with Patty Williamson from the BCA department. 

We are doing a documentary on social justice and design with David Stairs and he's on sabbatical shooting in Africa right now. 

In Europe, I believe we were interviewing designers all over the country, as well as in San Francisco and Los Angeles. That's what I'm doing right now. 

I believe in the work we're doing.

Any advice for new filmmakers? 

The most important advice I'd give is just do it. Don't be held back by equipment limitations that you think you have, just do it, even if it's not good. You just have to keep doing it over and over and over again, make all your mistakes and you learn from the last one and you move on.