Professors bring new media to inquiring minds
Visual Communication: Electronics is more than “lights, camera, action” for its students and its tag-team teaching duo.
Zoom-in for a close-up on adjunct professors, Kevin Curry and Devon Lyon, and you’ll see they have a lot more under their belts than teaching visual communication. Add two Linfield degrees, years of experience in business, law and communication and an up-and-coming film company to the mix, and the picture begins to focus.
Curry graduated from Linfield in 1992 with degrees in mass communication, with a concentration on
broadcasting, and political science. A member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, a broadcaster for KSLC and an occasional contributor to The Linfield Review, Curry said in the beginning, teaching was never a thought.
“Even when I was in graduate school getting my master’s degree I didn’t think I was going to end up teaching,” he said.
However, in the spring of 1996, Curry found himself back in the mass communication department teaching Visual Communication and Broadcast Practices. He also taught Intro to Mass Communications the following year.
Lyon graduated from Linfield in 1997 with a major in political science and a minor in
“[Teaching was] always in the back of mind I thought it would be fun to teach, mainly because I knew Kevin, and he was sort of always teaching on the side.”
Lyon was also a member of Kappa Sigma and was the second youngest ASLC president in Linfield’s history, governing in his junior year.
The pair first met while Curry worked for a state representative in 1995, and Lyon interned for him.
After working as a communications director for a speaker of the house when he graduated, Lyon made the decision to go to law school. He worked as a lawyer for a film company in Los Angeles.
When Lyon moved back to Oregon, he still worked in political communication and law but began to look into video production as a hobby.
“I started on the side to really start just doing creative narratives, just doing little videos with my friends, but at a higher level,” Lyon said.
Lyon said he started purchasing equipment and eventually he and Curry produced a short film.
“When he came back from L.A., I had him over,” Curry said. “I was like, ‘Hey come over for pizza; Let’s catch-up,’ and we started talking about video and right then we just kind of hatched it.”
Curry said he wrote the script for the short film and took four days to shoot and that it spurred the decision to enter the video world.
“It was a great introduction to what it took to do [film], and it was great training for the two of us to know we wouldn’t kill each other working that closely on a project,” Curry said.
Lyon said he then left his law firm, and the security that went along with it, and went out on his own. He said after about a year there was enough momentum to justify bringing Curry out.
The team cites experience in video, law and business for helping establish a serious rapport with their clients.
“I think Lyon Films has grown fast in a relatively short period of time, and it’s because we’re really squared away. We get stuff done, we’re efficient and we know what the heck we’re doing,” Lyon said.
Because of that background, Lyon said clients have a sense of ease working with them and that clients trust them.
“We’re not a kid who just went to film school and is trying to hang out a shingle and make a production
company,” Lyon said.
In its short lifespan, Lyon Films has already completed projects ranging from commercials and political spots to music videos and a full-length film.
Curry and Lyon were hired on as producers of the small-budget, full-feature film “A/S/L,” but eventually took on different roles.
Lyon picked up the role of director and Curry became assistant director.
“I was always angling to try and direct it, because I direct 95 percent of our projects and I wanted to direct a feature,” Lyon said.
The completed film was recently sent to the Sundance Film Festival, but, Lyon said, because it is more of a niche film, it will most likely be picked up by a station such as ABC Family or the Hallmark Channel.
Lyon Films also shot an episode of Designing Spaces for The Learning Channel and recently wrapped-up a shooting project for Spirit Mountain Casino.
“We are closing in on 50 commercials, and we have a niche for doing political spots,” Lyon said.
Both have had to juggle a film company and teaching along with family life and being fathers.
“It’s a balance; I mean, one of the reasons I didn’t come out to the company as soon as Devon did is because I had two kids,” Curry said. Finding that balance is not always easy.
“It’s really tough and it’s a constant struggle,” Lyon said. “I’m always trying to dial myself back, especially because my daughter is only 20 months old.”
While it is a demanding profession, both said they find it interesting and enjoy what they are doing.
“We fundamentally like what we do; we really do enjoy communication because, really, when you distill down what we do, it is just communicating through different methods,” Lyon said.
Both also said their intellectual curiosity drives them in production and teaching realms.
“Shooting the Spirit Mountain Casino floor at 2 a.m., it’s just fun stuff,” Lyon said. “It’s corporate, but who cares? I’d rather be doing this than pressing steel in Detroit or, for that matter,
As Linfield alumni, Curry and Lyon offer current students advice worth heeding.
“When you’re first out of school is one of the best times to try to do whatever it is your dream is to do,” Curry said.
He also said when you take risks in your 20s, you have a lot less to lose than when you are 40-years-old. Lyon agrees that taking risks is the way to go.
“[I] don’t ever have an answer to, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ because I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m enjoying figuring it out,” Curry said.
As adjunct professors of visual communications, Curry and Lyon bring backgrounds from all areas of video production. Students get hands-on experience shooting various projects, using video cameras, lights and audio systems. Students are also learning the basics of Final Cut Pro.
“Just like anyone in the creative world, we’re always learning and we’re always becoming better ourselves.” Lyon said. “We by far don’t have all the answers and we sort of consider ourselves at the beginning of this career.”