He’s only just discovered the power of ‘3’.
He’s exploring the power created by the interaction of words and pictures.
But the real power that Erik Soulliard wields is the energy which emanates from his positivity.
Soulliard, one of the most upbeat activists you’ll ever run across, chooses to direct his positive energy towards the betterment of his hometown. While some people talk Lebanon down, Soulliard lifts it up with actions.
Through his Facebook-hosted local initiative We Are Lebanon, PA, Soullliard has produced a handful of positive media projects to promote and publicize Lebanon. While his latest effort is both a culmination and product of his prior projects, it features the power of ‘3’ and the simple interaction of words and pictures, but it is dripping with Soulliard’s positivity.
“I think if you asked me for my three words, ‘positivity’ wouldn’t be one of them,” said Soulliard. “I guess it probably comes from the fact that I’ve been chasing down dreams forever. I grew up in Lebanon wanting to be an actor. From acting came my love of filmmaking. I guess you can’t do what I do without positivity. I may never make it big, but as long as you’re doing what you love and pushing forward, you’re doing something.
“Faith-wise, in the last ten years, I’ve really evolved,” Soulliard added. “You keep pushing forward, and that’s what life is all about. We should always pursue what God wants us to do. You have to be stupid enough not to quit. But if you’re not positive, you’re not really doing anything.”
His latest Lebanon promotional project, called the Still Photo Project, for lack of a better name, represents a ‘stepping out of his comfort zone’ for Soulliard, a talented videographer, writer and filmmaker. It features portrait photos, or ‘stills’, of 20 somewhat prominent Lebanon County residents, who are also trying to make a difference by doing what they do best.
The local subjects have been asked to come up with three adjectives or nouns which they believe best define them. Once the portraits are taken, Soulliard embeds those three words into the body of the finished products.
“To be completely transparent, I got the ‘three words’ idea from a billboard I saw in New York City,” said Soulliard, who’s also the owner of Annubis Productions. “Format-wise, the three words work well. It’s very visual. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when you add those three words to it, it’s worth a whole lot more than 1,003 words. But they’re not fully descriptive. There’s almost like a ‘fill in the blank’ element to them. It leaves you to ponder. I think it makes it more interesting, and draws you in. It adds a whole other dimension.
“They’re all people from the area, from all different walks of life,” Soulliard added. “Part of the reason I chose some is because I knew I could get them to do it. I’m doing it for free, but sometimes I feel like I’m trying to sell them something. Not everyone wants to be photographed. Not everyone wants to be out in public. The people chosen are people I’ve met. They are people who are active in the community.”
Soulliard’s subjects for the project include a mayor, a boxing champion, a martial artist, an actress, a singer/songwriter and a lawyer, just to name a few. While the subjects’ one common denominator is Lebanon, the project celebrates all of the things that make us unique, and all of the ways we as humans are similar.
The still photos’ interpretation are molded by perspectives, and left to an individual’s imagination.
“I told them, ‘Give me three words that describe you and represent what you think of you,’” said Soulliard, a 47-year-old resident of Cornwall. “I think the three words have been the hardest thing for some people. It’s been interesting getting those three words back from people. It’s been interesting to see how people define themselves and how they want to be defined. I just want them to be honest, but it shows the variety of people who live here. I have some people who are more trendy, and some people who aren’t.
“I got the idea while visiting New York City in 2018,” continued Soulliard. “I saw this billboard and I thought to myself, ‘That’s cool looking’.” I thought it could make such a cool marketing plan for Lebanon. It’s a little ‘how do you do’ for Lebanon. I thought, ‘We can do something like that in Lebanon. We can bring a little city to Lebanon.’”
Soulliard hopes to complete the production part of the Still Photo Project in the next week. The finished products will be turned into 20 three-feet-by-six-feet banners and displayed at an open exhibit at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts downtown on the first Friday in March, the 5th.
Following the show, Soulliard will donate the banners to the city of Lebanon, and the banners are expected to be displayed at prominent locations in Lebanon, including the city’s new downtown location inside the Harrisburg Area Community College building.
“I contacted the mayor’s office and asked them if they wanted them, and I told them they could put them wherever they wanted,” said Soulliard. “After they saw them, they definitely wanted them. [Mayor Sherry Capello] was very receptive to the idea. I told them I’d like to donate them, as long as they don’t end up in a closet. I told them they could use them as they see fit, how they think they will be beneficial to Lebanon. It’s not like I have an agenda as far as where they go.
“It’s just another way for me to bring positivity to the community,” Soulliard continued. “I want to show people Lebanon is a good place to live. Lebanon is what you make it. Lebanon is not perfect, but there’s room for improvement.”
Soulliard, a 1992 graduate of Cedar Crest High School, founded Annubis Productions in 2005, originally in part to promote and distribute his full-length feature film ‘The Creek’. He started his Facebook page We Are Lebanon, PA in 2017, as a way to give back to his community.
“This project is a bit different because it involves ‘stills,’” said Soulliard, who sits on the board of the Lebanon Council of the Arts. “All of the projects I’ve done for We Are Lebanon, PA are connected because they’re designed to raise the awareness of the positivity of Lebanon. It’s a way to get my name out there, but it’s more about the positivity. There is a selfish side to it, but I look at it as a win-win. I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people in the community.
“More than anything, I want people to be aware of the project,” concluded Soulliard. “I just think it’s a really cool project for Lebanon. I’m always trying to create awareness and promote the arts council. I just hope people look forward to seeing the banners.”
Positive. Advocate. Creator.
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