We are proud to announce that Lyons Den Productions' John C. Lyons won Erie Reader Best Of Erie 2017 in "Best Filmmaker" category!

Lyons Den Productions thanks Erie Reader for this recognition.



We are proud to announce that Lyons Den Productions' John C. Lyons has been nominated for Innovation Collaborative 2017 Disrupt Erie Awards in "Creative Entrepreneur of the Year" category!

Lyons Den Productions thanks Innovation Collaborative and Disrupt Erie Awards for this recognition.



We are happy to announce the "Our Erie" short film project, produced by Lyons Den Productions, was featured in Engaging Local Government Leaders’ podcast interview with Jefferson Educational Society.

In the interview Ferki Ferati and Ben Speggan discuss civic work on the city as well as promoting pride in the home town of Erie. Ferki and Ben explain the role of the Jefferson Society in civic life and a successful campaign called "Our Erie," which worked to reframe the city’s narrative.

Lyons Den Productions thanks Jefferson Educational Society for this opportunity.



"Our Erie" film viewed by more than 100,000 online

As of late Thursday morning, more than 100,000 viewers had watched “Our Erie,” a four-minute film produced by a group of local filmmakers and writers, according to Jefferson Educational Society officials.

The film is a video rebuttal to a recent CBS News documentary about Erie’s economic problems.

The film was released Tuesday morning by executive producers Perry Wood, of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, Ferki Ferati, of the Jefferson Educational Society, and David Hunter, of Epic Web Studios.

Produced by John C. Lyons, of Lyons Den Productions, in association with MenajErie Studio, “Our Erie″ is the collaborative effort of more than two dozen writers, editors, producers, filmmakers, and artists in Erie. The film features scenes of more than 80 Erie County locations.



"Our Erie" Tells Its Story

As we’ve been working away on our book based on our “American Futures” travels over the past four years, my wife Deb and I have increasingly come to think of Erie, Pennsylvania, as the representative American city of this moment.

OK, there are a lot of other candidates: Fresno and San Bernardino, in California; Columbus and its neighbors in Mississippi; Greenville and Greer in South Caroline; Eastport in Maine; Duluth in Minnesota plus its neighbor Superior, Wisconsin; Sioux Falls in South Dakota; Dodge City and Garden City in Kansas; several cities around Bend in central Oregon; and ...

But in all of these, with particular sharpness in Erie, you see the shoulder-to-shoulder juxtaposition of two crucial realities in modern American life. One is the human pain, dislocation, and disruption caused by the overlapping forces of technological change and global competition. The other is the human ingenuity, passion, practicality, and optimism involved in figuring out responses.

Deb and I have written extensively about the way this drama has played out in Erie, with more coming in our book. For now I want to highlight a video that some of our friends in Erie put together and released today. You can see it below, or go its Facebook page here:

This video, powerfully narrated by hip hop artist Charles Brown, was in response to a long series of pre- and post-election broadcast reports about Erie that covered only one side of its saga: the mainly older people who had mainly held big-factory jobs, and having lost those jobs were mainly angry and downcast about the prospects for themselves, their city, and the country as a whole. Shorter version: Erie as background for pieces on “the making of Trump voters,” although the city of Erie itself stayed Democratic last fall. (The surrounding suburban and rural counties went for Trump, as of course did Pennsylvania.)

The video touches on many aspects of a renascent Erie, as covered in dispatches about and others: the Jefferson Educational Society, an unusually ambitious and vibrant civic organization; the Behrend campus of Penn State, with many advanced-manufacturing projects; Hero biofuels, covered in our Atlantic video about Erie; the Erie Reader, part of the diaspora of revived alt-papers we’ve seen around the country; the Radius CoWork space, also covered in our Atlantic video; the county Gaming Authority, with an unusual civic-investment strategy; Erie Insurance, which is making huge new investments downtown; the many local universities; a wonderland of breweries; the MenajErie design studio, which helped create this video; and Epic Web Studios, which does international-standard web-design work from downtown Erie—and which, in fact, I and a group of colleagues in Washington hired to design a site for a local civic project. (More about Epic and others, to come.) And many more. After the video itself, which was produced by John Lyons of Lyons Den Productions in Erie, I encourage you to stay for the credits list, which starts at time 4:20 and shows how many local organizations were involved in creating this project. You don’t get that scale of involvement without the sort of civic fabric that holds communities (or countries) together and allows them to thrive.

Congratulations to our friends in Erie—who face lots of challenges, and are fully aware of it, but who have prepared themselves for the struggle. Please check this out.



Short Film Champions Hope for "Our Erie"

Pulling few punches, a new collaborative video offers a realistic look at our city’s future. Entitled “This is Our Erie,” the video was produced as an honest response to a national statement.

Within a relatively short time, several videos have been produced using Erie as a focus. Painting the narrative of a rust belt city on the decline, one video from declared Erie to be a “sinking ship.”

Needless to say, many Erie residents sprung to the defense of their hometown. Ferki Ferati, Vice President and Executive Director of the Jefferson Educational Society detailed the inspiration for the video, explaining that “the idea came once we saw the narrative that CBS news was trying to portray Erie, we thought that that Narrative of James Fallows and The Atlantic was the more realistic narrative of Erie, Pennsylvania.”

Fallows’ well-researched vision of the city is a more cautiously optimistic one. Along with the members of the team, Ferati shares that vision. “There are some exciting things happening in our town. The times are changing. We are not the manufacturing town that we always thought we were going to be. We have come into the 21st century. There are amazing things going on in our town, like Erie Insurance, LECOM, the innovation district, Velocity Net, and the list goes on and on. We are all trying to basically tell a story which is more realistic of the city of the Erie region which portrays Erie as a very diverse place, the importance of the refugee population, the importance of advanced manufacturing, the importance of the development of new industries.”

David Hunter, Managing Partner of Epic Web Studios “We didn't want a tourism video. This is a rebuttal to what's happened on the national stage. The [CBS video] was a narrative, so it needed a narrative in response.”

The video, narrated by local emcee Charles Brown (better known as C. Brown), begins with a stark, realistic tone. Discussing Erie’s history as a manufacturing town, the film builds a framework of hard work and perseverance. Hunter reasoned “that's why this video was made the way it was. It starts out talking about that history, those ‘battered knuckles and calloused hands,’ and then it pivots and the tone of the entire narrative changes.”

Showcasing a diverse roster of faces from around the city, the video transitions to an inclusive, hopeful message.

Local filmmake John C. Lyons outlined the arc of the narrative, confessing that “the point is, we're struggling. we have our problems, but is that the end of our story? Is that our only story? Is that the story that we should be putting out to the world, because really the issue that Erie has is marketing issue, and a mindset issue.”

“Our character is one of struggle,” Lyons explained. “That informs us and lays our foundation, that we're stronger than other people because we persevere.”

A true collaborative effort, the film was produced by Lyons, of Lyon’s Den Productions in association with MenajErie Studios. The film was executive produced by Hunter, Ferati, and Perry Wood, Executive Director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

The team of 20 features a veritable who’s who of local creators. Working in tandem the group produced the short film in a manner of weeks, from concept to creation.

Filmmaker Jessica Yochim of MenajErie Studios elaborated that "the idea is to shed light inside the businesses and positive things going on day-to-day in Erie. We had less than a month to complete the project and included over 75 businesses. We decided on #OurErie because Erie is strongest when people work together."

Lyons summarized that the group’s “goal is that this would serve as our unified statement, and hopefully an introduction to a more in depth series that will really drill down and be more focused and take more time with these places, as a web series.”

The video itself encourages a dialogue. In the end credits, it reads to “Add your voice” by using the hashtags #myerie and #ourerie, and by emailing responses to



Local filmmakers creating "Our Erie" video

Coming soon to the internet near you: "Our Erie." Local filmmakers, business leaders and community members are coming together to show an accurate image of Erie after national attention painted the region in a negative way.

"Our Erie" is a four-minute video that will highlight the positives in Erie, but also show the struggles. The filmmakers have been shooting at about 75 places in the last 10 days working to show Erie as they know it.

Local filmmakers, writers and editors joined forces with the Jefferson Educational Society, Epic Web Studios and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority to produce the video.

The video, which will be voiced by Erie rapper C. Brown, will acknowledge the past struggles for the city but show how Erie's persevered.

"We focus on young entrepreneurs and people like our new neighbors, new Erie immigrants and refugee populations that are coming here and being involved and starting their own businesses as well," producer John Lyons said.

The video will be launched on ECGRA's YouTube page and shared on the Jefferson Educational Society's Facebook page Tuesday morning.


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