When teens Joshua Burick, Jessica Durnell, Angel Fagan, Hayden Jones and Christopher Stone attended the Hoyt’s first Videography Camp for Teens, none of them knew quite what to expect.  The course description described “learning how to make a ‘short’ with a professional filmmaker”, but it didn’t quite convey the experience of actually doing so.  An experience many of them found to be ‘beyond words’!

“It was really cool,” says Hayden Jones, “and a whole lot of fun!  We learned how to do everything an actual film crew does, but had the opportunity to figure out where we best fit on the team.  Some of us liked coming up with the screen play or choosing locations.  I really liked the camera work and editing!”

Together the 14-15 year-old students learned the basics of writing a screenplay, pitching their ideas, film composition, sound, lighting, shot motivation and “tons more”.

The course was led by award-winning filmmaker, John C. Lyons, from Erie, PA thanks to a grant from the Arts in Education Partnership.  “The Arts in Education Partnership is a program of the PA Council on the Arts,” said Hoyt’s Executive Director, Kimberly Koller-Jones, “a state agency supported an allocation from the state and the National Endowment for the Arts.  It’s administered locally by Erie Arts & Culture.”

Koller-Jones further shared that Lyons is no slouch in the film industry.  He received Best Screenplay at the Director’s Chair Film Festival NYC and the Purple Heart Award at Zero Film Festival Los Angeles.  He also won the Young Erie Professionals Generation-E Leadership Award, the Erie Times People of the Year Award, the Erie Readers Best Filmmaker Award and was a two-time nominee for the Creative Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Innovation Collaborative. 

“To be able to bring John to New Castle was nothing short of incredible,” says Koller-Jones, “and the students loved him!”

Lyons said the students each pitched a 3 to 5-minute short story idea to their classmates.  The winning idea from Jessica Durnell, titled School for Deities, was then written in script format by the group. It tells the story of a curious god who crosses paths with a teenage girl.  The students scouted locations at the Hoyt and within the surrounding neighborhood, and held public auditions to cast the roles. 

Students interested attending the camp next summer may contact Kimberly Koller-Jones, Executive Director at director@hoytartcenter.org

Meet the Instructor

John Lyons.jpg

John Lyons was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended Northwestern School District and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Edinboro University. He is the Executive Director of the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania and has programmed quality cinema for over a decade at a variety of venues. He produces features, documentaries and short films with his wife and partner, Dorota Swies, under their company Lyons Den Productions. He lead the short film collaboration "#OurErie" which was viewed over 100,000 times in 48 hours and received recognition by James Fallows in The Atlantic. His previous features "Schism" and "There Are No Goodbyes" received Best Screenplay at Director's Chair Film Festival NYC and the Purple Heart Award at Zero Film Festival Los Angeles. His efforts brought attention to local media resulting in Erie Reader's 40 Under 40, Young Erie Professionals Generation-E Leadership Award, Erie Tmes-News' People of the Year and Erie Reader's "Best Filmmaker" Awards. Lyons was also a 2-time nominee for Creative Entrepreneur of the Year at Innovation Collaborative's Disrupt Erie Awards. Lyons' efforts all feed into the overarching goal to build a new, inclusive industry in the Erie region.