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Eco-horror film marks Quickstarter’s ninth project launch

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

(EDITOR'S NOTE 11/5/2015: The campaign raised $22,600, surpassing its $15,000 goal.)

Mercyhurst University’s latest Quickstarter campaign is eyeing an ambitious fundraising goal of $15,000 for filmmaker John C. Lyons of Lyons Den Productions to commence production of his uniquely American horror story, “Unearth.”

Billed equal parts docu-drama and eco-horror, Lyons said the film reveals “the terrifying repercussions sown by shortsighted decisions and what the next generation reaps from our actions.” He intends to begin production with his wife and business partner, Dorota Swies, next year in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Mercyhurst intelligence studies professor Kristan Wheaton, who created Quickstarter as a strategy for conducting successful crowdfunding campaigns on popular online platforms like Kickstarter, and Mercyhurst students Jessika Turner and Annie Murphy are working with Lyons on his Kickstarter campaign. To date, Wheaton has managed successful Kickstarter campaigns for seven out of eight projects, and he has 18 more waiting in the wings. This marks his ninth project launch.

Funding for the latest Quickstarter initiative is through the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst University and Penn State Behrend.

Horror film fanatics and the eco-conscious can help make the film a reality by contributing to the project’s Kickstarter campaign, Unearth: A feature-length horror film, which launched on Oct. 6. Lyons has until Nov. 5 to achieve his $15,000 goal or forfeit any funds raised.  

The campaign will reward backers with everything from DVDs and original artwork to a chance to be cast in the film and attend its premiere.

“I spent my entire youth on farms and in the woods of Pennsylvania and learned the importance of the land and our relationship to our environment,” Lyons reveals on his Kickstarter page. “After viewing the effects of industry on my beautiful state in documentaries like ‘Gasland’ and ‘Triple Divide,’ and evidence regarding years of cover-up regarding water contamination caused by fracking, I was inspired to write this story.” 

Lyons has written, directed and produced two feature films and two short documentaries under Lyons Den Productions. His features "Schism" and "There Are No Goodbyes" have screened in festivals across the globe and have received numerous award recognition including Best Narrative Feature (Spirit Quest Film Festival), Best Actor and Best Screenplay Awards (Director’s Chair Film Festival) and Purple Heart Filmmaker Award (Zero Film Festival - Los Angeles). 

Meanwhile, through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Wheaton sees the potential to transform Erie into an “idea hub” by taking local entrepreneurial projects to the next level and, in some cases, morphing them into full-fledged businesses.