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Senior filmmaker releases ‘Under the Influence’

Ashley Charnley | Monday, November 2, 2009

Breaking into the film industry is not an easy task, and it is one that senior film major Mark Lyons is growing familiar with.

Lyons co-wrote and starred in the film “Under the Influence” with director Joe Wilka. The film was released yesterday on AT&T, Verizon and Charter cable providers.

The film, an 85-minute comedy, includes a cast of Lyons’ friends and others who aren’t actually pursuing careers in acting. It was made “just for kicks,” and Lyons wrote it with Wilka during his sophomore year at Notre Dame.

The film — with the tagline “Four Friends. One Night. Infinite Possibilities” — shows the misadventures of four high school friends who decide to crash a party where one of their ex-girlfriends will be. The party is broken up by the police and the four friends are then split up, and the rest of the film focuses on how they try to meet again.

Lyons said the idea came because he knew his friends who would be in the movie look college and high school age, and he chose comedy because he “[does] comedy better than drama.”

Lyons said he had to take into account his location as well as several other factors.
“We did it in Sioux Falls, South Dakota so there are not many interesting places to shoot,” he said.

Wilka is largely responsible for making it available on some cable outlets, and they are now working on making it accessible on NetFlix.

“[NetFlix] will post the movie without having made any DVDs of it. If enough people put it in their queue, then they will produce them,” Lyons said. 

Currently, Lyons is working on several other projects, a couple of which he hopes to have shown at the upcoming ND Film Festival.

He has a documentary and short film in the works, but he is also working on shooting a test pilot for a TV series.

The series, “Off-Campus” features Lyons’ roommates and he hopes to make more episodes of it in the spring. He is also working on a pilot about working in retail, something he did “off and on again for about five years.”

Lyons hopes to send in the scripts to places in Los Angeles to see if they would be interested in them.

Beyond these projects, Lyons said he is always writing or working on something.
“If you want to get into something, nothing is stopping you,” he said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the film can go online and watch the trailer at imdb.com