Michael Eaton, associate professor of film studies and film production at California Baptist University, has a passion for film that has presented him with several opportunities in the industry such as teaching, producing and editing for cinema.
Eaton’s talent has allowed him to explore almost every type of cinematography, ranging from narrative feature films, documentaries, dramas, corporate videos, webisodes, reality shows and music videos.
Unlike many directors, Eaton never attended a film school but rather worked his way up in the business on his own, where he has now gained 25 years of knowledge in the field.
His fascination with filmography first began when he was 14 years old after he watched the movie “The 400 Blows.” To this day, the film is an inspiration for the film professor.
Filmography was not always Eaton’s choice of study. In college, he originally majored in photography, but later discovered his calling and excitement for filmography.
“In college I realized filmography is a mix of language, music, images and sound to make films,” Eaton said. “Photography and literature were my other passions and they kind of combined into filmography.”
Before teaching at CBU, he taught at several other universities, including Chapman University and California State University at Fullerton, for a total of six years.
“Students bring a lot of energy and passion because they are falling in love with it for the first time,” Eaton said.
Because of his love for film, Eaton devotes much of his time to his students so they are able to perfect their skills in as many ways as they can.
“Professor Eaton is not a good teacher, he is a great teacher,” said Kaleb Collins, senior film studies major. “Being an aspiring cinematographer, I am not learning classroom skills — on the contrary, I am gaining real world knowledge that will shape how I work for the rest of my life.”
Seeing the enthusiasm students have for learning in his class is one of the major reasons Eaton loves to teach filmography at CBU.
Eaton tries to interact with his students as much as possible. Students who take his courses get the chance to learn hands-on techniques that can be used in the real world. For instance, Eaton teaches the many ways students can capture a walk-and- talk shot, where the actors walk and talk and the camera follows.
“I like to teach students the tricks of how to do those techniques that are actually used on sets all the time,” Eaton said.
Brandon Byrd, senior film studies major, said he enjoys Eaton’s teaching style.
“He lets you learn by actually doing,” Byrd said. “I have been on some other sets since I took a few classes with him and I can truly say everything he teaches gives confidence and a strong foundation to excel.”