Grandin Theatre Film Lab

Grandin Theatre Film Lab | Film and Visual Literacy

Educational Background/Training

Primary Teaching Artist: Tyler Lyon

Tyler Lyon has a degree in film studies from George Mason University and is a professional sound mixer, producer, and editor.  He has also received coursework certifications in independent film producing from Sundance Collab, both fiction and non-fiction. Tyler has worked on over 50 productions ranging from one-day corporate videos to five feature-length films. He’s worked in everything from short film to reality TV with clients including the Travel Channel, Amazon, Dell, Mazda, and more. In addition, he also teaches video production at Roanoke College.

About the Artist/Ensemble

Tyler has been the Program Coordinator of the Grandin Theatre Film Lab since its inception in 2016, recently completing his 7th year at the helm of the program. As aforementioned he is a professional sound mixer, but also is experienced and instructs students in screenwriting, pre-production, cinematography, lighting, directing, editing, post-production and distribution.  He has embraced multiple forms of film presentation to teach Grandin Theatre Film Lab students including narrative features and shorts, documentaries, horror, comedy, and music videos. The program culminates with student’s films screening at the annual Film Lab Showcase at the Grandin Theatre which takes place every May.  This showcase has run six years out of seven (none in 2020), to over 1,500+ people.

His approach and philosophy have always been to teach the students to teach themselves and guide them into collaborative real life situations where they proactively need to engage valuable life skills including communication, collaboration, scheduling, continual assessment, thoughtful planning, and improvisation.  He is responsible for overseeing the creation of over 30+ student made films, 3 music videos, and dozens of micro-shorts (films 3 mins and under). His students films have been selected, screened, and awarded at over 50+ festivals worldwide from as far away as Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia. His students films have also won ten Student Production Awards from the Chesapeake Region of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (NATAS ), the same organization which presents the Emmy awards.  His supervision of the Grandin Theatre Film Lab has also put nearly a dozen high school students in college, many on scholarship, as well as having 6 former students or interns currently working in the film and video/television production industry.

Educational Program Description

Visual Literacy

Tyler Lyon in conjunction with the Grandin Theatre Film Lab developed the Introduction to Visual Literacy curriculum in 2019.  The curriculum is targeted at 5th and 7th graders in the Roanoke City and County public and private school systems.  The curriculum delivered to students helps create conscience, proactive skills for them to discern the seemingly unending stream of imagery they receive in our visual world.  It teaches them to discern basic tenets camera positioning and view points, framing, blocking, lighting, production design, performance and other skills that filmmakers and visual artists utilize to deliver stories and messaging.

Lesson objectives include 1) utilizing the visual curriculum to educate on above mentioned aspects of filmmaking and story telling, 2) student interaction and feedback throughout the curriculum delivery, 3) questions, student interactive polls, and participation, and 4) a feedback session at the end where students get to talk about how what they saw and learned made them feel, think, and what they will do going forward.  We also get feedback from educators who are present and participate in the curriculum delivery. An optional written assessment following the presentation is available.

The program was developed with an original short film made by the Grandin Theatre Film Lab titled “Cotton Clouds” which focuses on the inspiration behind pictures taken by famous photographer Lewis Hine in Roanoke that influenced major American labor reforms in the early 20th century. There is also a longer version based on the film “Hidden Figures,” another film containing significant Virginia history. The program can be adapted to other films for an additional fee.

Each presentation runs between 75-90 minutes (can be 120 to 180 mins if a longer film is chosen), with the student feedback session at the end.  Most take place at the historic Grandin Theatre, as it is also a secondary objective to bring students and our community’s youth to the Roanoke Valley’s last remaining historic American cinema house. Tyler can also offer in-school curriculum delivery, where Mr. Lyon will go to a school to deliver the curriculum in a school setting by request.


Tyler is available for helping enable groups or institutions of learning to empower their students to create films of their own through longer term engagements. The same is true for helping students cultivate a deeper sense of film appreciation.


Workshop fee per hour: $55

Daily residency: $275


  • Elementary Students
  • Secondary (Middle/High School) Students
  • College/University Students
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