Nick Lyon Spotlight

Written by: Keith Makenas

Nick Lyon has a unique filming style and a keen eye for angles and details which results in topnotch films.   He’s also a professional photographer, editor, and his work in the advertising industry has won him multiple awards.   Currently an active member of the Directors Guild of America, he works in the German and American film markets.  He is fluent in German and got his start in the film industry while living in Germany.  Four of his nine years spent in Germany he studied at the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg Germany.   During his studies, he had a seminar with Werner Herzog and Nick shares an intriguing experience stemming from the  seminar, “Werner Herzog told the school that if he were to open a film school it would be in the middle of Africa and you would need to walk there to get in, and in the middle of the room there would need to be a boxing ring and everyone would box daily, and then he pointed at me, and said and if you’re a big guy you go get a job as a bouncer in a sex shop…. funny enough, that night I was working at the local cinema where I was a projectionist, and Carlos walked in saying it’s his last day at his job. I asked where is that…he said he’s a bouncer at Das Unbekannte Tier (The Unknown Animal) which was one of Stuttgart’s biggest clubs. I asked if he needs a replacement. He looked at me, and said, come down tomorrow. The next day I was working as a bouncer for the next two years at Das Unbekannte Tier.

Nick remained in Germany after film school and began making music videos for some of Germany’s top bands.  Shortly after he made his first film I LOVE YOU BABY about a couple that moves from small cons to a six-figure con, impersonating a rich man’s illegitimate son who’d been given up for adoption.  The film was released in 2000 and starred Mark Keller who had nothing but praise starring in Nick’s film saying that Nick is a great guy, a big talent and great to work with.  Also starring in the films are Maximillan Schell and Jasmine Gerat.

Working alongside Nick on I LOVE YOU BABY was renowned cinematographer Ekkehart Pollack.  “I worked with Nick in 1999 on I love You Baby,” shares Pollack. ” It was at the beginning of his carrier, his 1st feature and he was still pretty young. Whatever he was full of ideas and energy. The 1st meeting we had he came along with a fully boarded feature film, scene by scene, picture by picture. Hundreds of pages. Everything drawn-up by himself. I was impressed. From this moment on we both had a good time. We mixed new ideas with his ideas, we fought for our ideas to get it on the screen. Nick is a tower of strength. We still see each other once in a while and remember these days.”

Over the years Nick learned all aspects of production from concept through distribution and he was eager to assist the Producers, Writers, Editors, Storyboard Artists, and coordinators.  Since he got his start in the industry he directed a couple dozen films, shorts, and TV series.  He also has produced an abundance of ads for small and large companies including Sony, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal,  Lifetime, Syfy, HSN, Walmart and Newegg.   Prior to making films, Nick spent two years as a mannequin restorer in the early 90’s.  He was painting faces, repairing broken arms, noses, ears, etc.

Nick directed MGM’s film SPECIES: THE AWAKENING and has made films for Mar Vista and Cinetel as well as many films for low budget production companies.  His approach is that money doesn’t act or select camera angles and he’s valued by producers for the ability to stretch a dollar and make a low budget with high quality results.  One of his priorities is to get a cast and crew on board that believes in his filming method and credit everyone involved for their hard work and dedication.

Nick has made a couple personal films that still stand out to him, one being PUNK LOVE about two forlorn lovers, searching for that elusive Hollywood Ending to the story of their dreams.  It’s a film he still is proud of today and sometimes feels he should have made the film prior to applying what he learned at film school.  Another film is BULLET which stars Danny Trejo who is a tough cop that takes the law into his own hands when his grandson is kidnapped.  The internationally released director’s cut of BULLET has been hailed as being significantly better than the U.S. edited version.  With the rights out of Nick’s hands and despite his legal disputes, the U.S. may never see his preferred version of the film.

Acclaimed Actor Robert Blanche starred in PUNK LOVE along with Nick’s STORMAGEDDON, BERMUDA TENTACLES, BULLET, and ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.  Starring in Nick’s films over the years, it has been a fun experience for Blanche watching Nick’s professionalism grow as he shares, “It’s been great working with Nick over the years and watching him grow as a director. Funny to say “Watching him grow” because he started at such a high level anyway, but he continues to explore all aspects of what he does. He never gets complacent or phones it in. His interest in doing good work no matter the circumstance is refreshing. He’s got a great, positive energy. He really is a force. And I don’t know many directors that make every project look like it costs at least ten times more than it does, which is at least partly due to the fact that he is a true visual artist. I always look forward to working with Nick, because in addition to being a great director, he’s just a great guy.”

Some of industries top and most well-known Directors learned the craft of filmmaking on the hardest stage.  Nick is well on his way along the same path as Ron Howard and James Cameron who also started working with production companies that specialize in low budget films.   One of the companies giving Nick many opportunities and allowing Nick to expand is The Asylum.  They give him creative freedom and trusts that he’ll work in the best interest of the film without going over budget.   The Asylum’s President David Latt tells how fortunate the company is to have Nick making their films, “Nick is one of our most successful filmmakers. Whatever he gets involved in, it seems to break records and finds an audience. The key to his success? He knows how to tell a great story – no matter what the genre. Nick is passionate about filmmaking, and is fearless in his approach.  He knows the secret recipe on getting great performances from actors and crew under tight budgets and deadlines.  Nick is our insurance for a film to exceed expectations. “

One of Nick’s current films by The Asylum is OPERATION DUNKIRK, starring Kimberley Hews, Michael Wouters, Tyler Cole, and Ifan Meredith.   Producer Bill Dever talks about making the film with Nick, “Operation Dunkirk was a project of passion it was a project where people came together with a collective vision with Collective effort and produced what I think many will feel for the budget is a ground breaking movie. I am so proud of the team I’m so grateful for the contribution of the Asylum and I’m very grateful for the passion and mentorship of Nick Lyon.”

Dever resides in Franklin, Indiana where filming took place.  Some of the cast was from California, but a majority was brought in by Dever utilizing his connections locally and in surrounding states.   Dever has made multiple films in the Franklin area including GILA! the 1959 remake of THE GIANT GILA MONSTER about a giant lizard terrorizing a rural mid-west community. “The Mid West can stand next to any film economy on the planet,” tells Dever.  “We have a more than talented base of creators who clearly can compete on the world stage. Our crew was pulled from Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky….many of these folks I have worked with before. Making low budget films is tough….in the Mid West it can be much tougher but we are up to the challenge.” For the record Dever is the owner of this website, B Movie Nation.

 

 Michael Wouters plays the role of Strasser in OPERATION DUNKIRK and appreciated working with Nick as an actor and improving scenes with him when they saw the opportunity.   “When we were shooting the 2nd torture scene in the ‘French Mansion’, we were looking for something more over the top than just ‘the old screwdriver in the hand method,” tells Michael.  “Since Nick was staying in that particular house he found an old iron as a door stop and decided to bring it up as a prop. We improv-ed using the iron to torture the French man, and came up with this disgusting line “I love the smell of burning flesh, it reminds me of how my father used to roast a swine over an open fire”. It was a pleasure working with Nick and even though my role was that of a gnarly nazi, we enjoyed bringing this character to life. It was a great experience to work with Nick like that and to re-write elements of the script in order to fit this evil character better.”

Co-First Assistant Director Brent Roske also complimented Nick’s ability to utilize all his resources due to a limited budget.   Michael recalls hearing Brent exclaiming that the crew looks very professional….in Nazi uniform.  With extra Nazis required for some scenes, Nick ordered some of his crew members to wardrobe to get in Nazi uniform.

Nick is highly regarded by all Producers, but even more so by Producers of low budgets. His ability to provide a top service with a limited budget is greatly appreciated because shooting action, disaster, and creatures at a high level with very limited budgets and short schedules is the hardest thing to do in film.  He acknowledges those type of films probably shouldn’t be done on low budgets, but at the same time he welcomes the challenge.

He specializes in all genres and enjoys making disaster, action, thrillers and drama, but he’s personally intrigued by zombies due to society having a fear of a plague.  The Asylum gave Nick the opportunity to make his first zombie film, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.  The film stars Ving Rhames and the famed Taryn Manning who admires Nick as a Director and apparently she adores zombies herself as she shares, “Nick Lyon has an incredible mind. It was a pleasure working with him. Zombie Apocalypse was ahead of its time. BTW Zombie’s scare the crap out of me.”

With the success of ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, the Asylum had Nick make another zombie film RISE OF THE ZOMBIES giving Nick the opportunity to work with Danny Trejo once again.   ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE also was the influence behind the launching of the hit SYFY series Z Nation and Nick directed the Going Nuclear episode.   Nick’s most recent zombie movie ISLE OF THE DEAD stars Joey Lawrence about a military squad is sent to a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean in order to secure top secret records involving a zombie epidemic that wiped out the large scientific team experimenting with various test chemicals and toxins which leads to the team battling not only zombies, but the lone surviving scientist who has plans for the future of the human race.

Currently Nick is working on a project that is a complete opposite of his zombie, disaster, violence, and creature films.   This current film is a personal project he’s working on with his son, that Nick said gets him back to his days as an arthouse aspiring director.  Details about this film will be made public in the near future.

To keep current with Nick and all his films, be sure visit his website www.nicklyon.com  and his IMDB www.imdb.com/name/nm0528963