Darby Lyons

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2020 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner

Filmmaker  \\  Bringing otherworldly adventures to the Cape

As an adolescent, Darby Lyons spent his days dreaming up skits with his friends. A childhood rite of passage, he would spend rainy winter evenings and warm summer days traversing faraway dreamscapes, creating his own fairytales—ones that allowed some measure of escape from a difficult childhood living in shelters and foster homes—and writing his own stories. As a teenager, those skits took shape through the lens of a video camera, and now as an adult, Lyons has discovered that his love for acting, directing, producing—everything that comes with filmmaking—has not dwindled… far from it. 

“I’ve always been interested and fascinated by the art of film since I can remember, from the cinematography to the editing,” he says. Lyons has found a community of people that share that same drive through the Cape Cod Community Media Center. “With their resources and facility I knew I had that opportunity to do something I always saw as just a dream,” he says.

Lyons’ most recent creative venture comes in the form of a sci-fi drama titled “For the Galaxy.” If the parallels to the “Star Wars” franchise seem striking, it’s because this project originally started as a parody of the well-known films. “I was putting together a ‘Star Wars’ parody called ‘The Maple Awakens,’” explains Lyons. “After working on it for a bit, I saw my chance to start over and create my own original sci-fi project.” Lyons’ venture into the enigmatic and fantastical world of space is one that mixes drama with action, comedy with suspense, and emotion with precise editing. “To bring all of those things together in one film is a tough thing to accomplish, but I believe with everyone’s help we were able to pull it off,” says Lyons who has amassed a host of friends, family, and local New England talent to debut in his film. Cinematographer Michael Hansen first got involved in the project when he came across Lyons building a spaceship cockpit set in the warehouse of the Cape Cod Community Media Center. “He came to the back of the warehouse, saw the set I was working on, and asked what my movie was about. I told him I didn’t know—I hadn’t written a script yet,” recalls Lyons wryly. “He laughed, and from then on, he’s been instrumental in helping bring the film to life.” True to Lyons’ roots, the film was shot entirely locally in many notable locations across the Cape (like a bar fight scene shot at Embargo in Hyannis), and this past year, “For the Galaxy” won a New England Emmy.

“There are so many aspects of film that I truly love,” says Lyons. “I enjoy writing the scenes out; I have fun building the sets; I get excited making the props and costumes; but, the most exhilarating part would have to be the actual filming itself, and of course, the editing—that’s when your imagination comes to life.” Lyons credits some big names as his motivation to continue in the film industry—Hollywood big shots like Spielberg, Scorsese, and Tarantino—but beyond that, he says his creative spirit is driven by the people in his life that have pushed him to follow his dreams and stick with what he loves. “That’s the real inspiration,” he says.

“It’s funny,” says Lyons, “when I started this project I didn’t realize how big the filmmaking community is in the area; From editors to cinematographers to makeup artists, seeing so many people with the same aspirations as myself has been amazing. I’m thankful to the Cape Cod Media Center for connecting me with this community and giving us so many opportunities to create something of our own. I believe the Cape and Islands have so much to offer the youth, and I would love to see film and media programs like this continue to thrive.”

“When I think of the word ‘visionary,’” muses Lyons, “I think of a person that knows what they want and sees what they want when no one else can—a person that would love to change the world with their work and imagination, whatever that may be.”

Steven Spielberg once said, “Sometimes a dream almost whispers…it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.” Lyons certainly heard his dream, and had the courage to turn it into a tangible reality—one complete with lights and effects, aliens and action sequences, but also family, vivacious spirit, and all of the things that he has wisely kept close to his heart. “Nothing compares to the joy of seeing your work come to life,” says Lyons. “I guess that could be said in any situation, but for me it is film. I can’t see myself ever stopping; it’s too exciting, too fun to give up now that I’ve started. 10 years from now, I’d like to be doing another interview on filmmaking, saying it all started on Cape Cod.” 

Visit where it all started, with the Cape Cod Media Center here!

For more visionaries, click here!

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.