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Students build resumes, keep film fest rolling

The College of the Arts and Media is the Traverse City Film Festival’s Creative Action Partner

Contact: Emily Stulz


​Will students keep a celebrated event rolling while gaining career experience? Will they screen their own films? And will faculty take their know-how on the road?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

The College of the Arts and Media collaborates with the Traverse City Film Festival as Creative Action Partner, providing students countless opportunities for resume building and hands-on learning. The festival also is an opportunity for faculty experts to teach in the film school and showcase their out-of-classroom endeavors.

"This is an opportunity for us to reach outside of the Mount Pleasant area and showcase the amazing things we are doing," said Janet Hethorn, dean of the College of the Arts and Media.

Run with intern power

Founded in 2005 by Academy Award-winning native Michigander Michael Moore, the Traverse City Film Festival relies on interns for its success.

"If we didn't have interns, we wouldn't be able to have as much great content," said Susan Fisher, managing director of the festival. "They produce real and meaningful pieces that we use throughout the event."

While the internship program is vital to the festival running smoothly, it also is an important way for students to gain hands-on experience.

"You learn by trying," said Natalie Philipp, a broadcast and cinematic arts junior from South Lyon, Michigan. "You have to go out and try, because that is when you really learn how to do it right."

While there are more than 25 interns total, having seven other interns from CMU provides students a built-in support system.

"Working with others from CMU is nice in the sense that we can pull from shared experiences," said John Slough, a broadcast and cinematic arts senior from Jackson, Michigan. "I did not know, at least not very well, any of the other interns, and it has been great getting to know them."

Adding to resumes and demo reels

Students also can add a film credit to their resume. As part of its partnership, CAM hosts a student work segment during the festival. The Old Town Playhouse will screen four student works beginning at noon Friday, Aug. 1.  

This year, two of the films are products of a course taught by broadcast and cinematic arts faculty member Eric Limarenko. From writing the script and casting to video editing and final sound, more than 15 students spend an entire semester producing an entire short film.

"We create something special and give the students an opportunity to add something original to their demo reel," said Limarenko. "They end up with a finished professional piece they can send to possible employers as proof of their effort. I want to provide a space for a genuine experience and a proper return on investment."

Zach Leighton, a May 2019 broadcast and cinematic arts graduate from Farmington Hills, Michigan, was a part of the team that created the film "Spare Change" during the spring 2019 semester. Serving as editor for the course film, Leighton was charged with pulling together footage, color-correcting segments, syncing audio and more.

"Being creative helps a person grow tremendously," Leighton said. "My film class helped everyone get creative, working on no budget, so we had to be flexible with what we could do and what we wanted to do.

Attend film school

Some of CMU's own expert faculty will take the stage during the festival's film school sessions. Learn from experts in the field that are teaching the next generation of filmmakers at CMU.


Connect with fellow CMU Chippewas


The festival also provides opportunities for alumni to connect.

  • CMU at the Bijou – Enjoy an evening at the Bijou by the Bay Theater and screen the documentary "Breaking the Sound Barrier" produced by faculty members Patty Williamson and Limarenko at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 28.
  • Wine tasting at Bonobo Winery – Join the CMU Alumni Association for an evening of fine wine, cheese and great company from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1 at the Bonobo Winery on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City.


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