ABOUT | Filmmaking

Will Lyman



A small group of very different films.


The Pink Satin Suit documents the struggles, perseverance, and discipline that go into the making of a Self-Made Man.

Over sixty years ago in New Guinea, a homesick New Orleans kid swore the Army would be the last employer he ever had. Today, Johnny Donnels’ photography is known all over the world. Johnny himself was an icon of the French Quarter, where he ran a gallery filled with his own art. Successfully unemployed right up until his death in 2009, he continued to produce a body of work that remains “vastly under-exploited.” Revealed in a lover’s embrace with the life he created, he was, to many, the last of the great Bohemians: a symbol of freedom and ease, who, by the sparseness of his demands, lived a life of luxury. Johnny crossed the intersection of art and commerce with humor and grace. This special film reveals the surprising discipline that underpins a life of freedom.

This film was shot before the flood and offers a view of the city that is very different from present-day New Orleans.

Johnny Donnels
A documentary film by Anastasia and Will Lyman,
featuring Johnny Donnels, with Herman Leonard, Jerry Jeff Walker, Pete Fountain, Matt Clark, Tom Toner and others.
Music by David Torkanowsky. Director of Photography, Peter Krieger.
Running time: 53:49 | Year of release: 2002


The fabled strip between Times Square and Eighth Avenue, known as “The Deuce,” was slated for destruction, to be rebuilt as high rise corporate offices. But, through the determination of a few who remembered what 42nd Street once was, and, ultimately, through a fateful twist of economic fate, the famous theater row was preserved as an entertainment district.

Narrated by Robert Guillaume (”Benson”), Soul of an Empire tells the story of America’s lingering love affair with a street that, by 1980, had become a public nuisance. The plans to obliterate the icon by turning it into a business and financial center galvanized the public and made clear how reluctant we are to let go of the past. The largely corporate entertainment center that exists on the site today is a city’s attempt to rediscover the gritty exuberance of a street that was always “slightly out of control.” The New 42nd Street houses nearly fifty movie screens and embraces three magnificently restored theaters as legitimate stages.

Co-producers Will Lyman and Jerri Sher worked for three years with veteran cinematographer Jeri Sopanen (My Dinner with Andre), to create an unusually lush image of the two billion dollar makeover. The film also includes remarkable and unique six-camera, time-lapse footage of the moving of the Empire Theater. The original score was written by Billy Novick.

Empire Theater
Empire Picture Corporation, a joint venture of Will Lyman’s Whitethroat Productions and Jerri Sher’s Jerri Productions, is currently offering for broadcast Soul of an Empire, a 54-minute story about the largest urban redevelopment project in history which transformed legendary 42nd Street in New York City from flophouse to theme park.
Year of release: 2000


On April 19, 1995, on the recommendation of its parent company, the profitable one hundred-eleven-year-old Houston Post closed its doors forever, leaving over 1,900 former employees out of work.

Many of the laid-off journalists had been on staff for over 20 years. The difficulties in finding new jobs were greatest for those journalists who had married each other while employed at the Post. The likelihood of both spouses finding new employment on the same paper was slim.

A film by Whitethroat Productions, Ltd., featuring Natacha Roi and Jack Willis.
Photography by Ed Slattery. Original score by John Kusiak. Production Design: Chipman Nagid & Pfeiffer.
Written and directed by Will Lyman. Produced by Chris Lenge.
Running time: 22 minutes | Year of release: 1997
Sometimes the thing you want happens to the right person.
Empire Theater