Mark Jaekle, CEO of Pan-Con Productions, recently announced the 30th-year Anniversary Celebration Project, which will
involve a series of parties and events to commemorate the history of this famous troupe from Portville.
Officially formed in 1978 by Jerry PANcio and Boomer CONnell, Pan-Con Films started out as a high school filming group
that produced their first 8mm movies in the Spring of that year - The Beatles Film and Project Tigger.
Shortly after the raving success of Tigger, Pancio and Connell drew up their plan and invited their friends to join.
They recruited an initial group of actors, including Mike Milne, Gary Swetland, Moke Jaekle, Jimmy Reynolds, Joe
Snyder, Mike Warner, Randy Bretzin, Rob Pockalny, Sue Wormer, Sandy Nothem, and Cindy Harrison. They were joined soon
by Todd Reynolds, John Sprague, Dave Klotz, Roger DeAngelo, Dave Rutterman, Mark Childs, Jim Shepard, Bino Warner, and a host
In 1979, they produced the epic Yes, I'm a Possum, a short film called Date To The Prom, and Nova Scotia,
which was totally animated. The group also recorded many original songs to go along with their ancient soundtracks.
They became a hit in town, garnered a flock of groupies, and their friendships were solidified for the next three decades.
Since high school, Pan-Con has gone on to produce many more projects through various forms of media - videos, a newsletter,
music CDs, golf tournament, and a huge website that chronicles the past and present Pan-Con creations. The Panther
Profile recently caught up with several of the Pan-Con members via phone and email, and we got these interviews.
Panther Profile: Moke, tell us about the 30-year celebration for Pan-Con.
Moke: Well, we are excited. It's been three decades of service to the community, and we're
all amazed that Pan-Con still exists. Every time it looks like it's gonna go under, someone from the group has kept
it together. Things have sky-rocketed since 2000 when I became CEO though.
PF: What are your first memories of Pan-Con?
Moke: Jerry and Boomer ran the show during high school and the rest of us just followed.
They got us into the movies and the music back then. They kept it together, made it a brand name, and branched out after
Portville. Jerry into the music side, while Boomer and I stuck with the video side at Canisius College.
PF: Isn't that when Big Jim Hawbaker came in?
Moke: Yeah. Big Jim took Pan-Con to another level. But we didn't know it at the time.
That project and character came on strong under my recent administration.
PF: Jerry, What are your first memories of Pan-Con?
Jerry: Boomer and I wanted to make a full-length movie. It was at the very end of our junior
year...June 1978. We had just shown Project Tigger at the prom and banquet at the Castle restaurant in Olean.
People liked it alot. Chicks were coming our way. Boomer and I realized that we needed to form an official filming
PF: How did your first meeting come together?
Jerry: We asked a bunch of our friends to join. After a couple of weeks, we had our crew
and we met in the parking lot of Jimmy's house in Obi. We just talked, filmed a bunch of nonsense, and came up with
some preliminary ideas. We started working on the Possum film that Summer.
PF: Boomer, how do feel about the big 30 years for Pan-Con?
Boomer: I'm just glad that all of us who made those movies have remained great friends all of
these years. We've done many projects since those early days, and the flame keeps burning. But it was those first
crude films that bonded us together.
PF: What kind of celebration events do you have planned?
Boomer: Well, Warney is going to have campfire cookouts and parties as much as possible this summer.
We got the alumni football game, the school reunion weekend, and more parties here and there. It all depends on Mike
PF: Milney, tell us about the Big Jom story.
Mike: I wasn't there.
PF: What about the recent Pan-Con success?
Mike: Boomer carried Pan-Con on his back during the dark days of the late 80s and early 90s,
when the rest of us basically quit. It was a big mess. But it all came back in St. Louis, 1993, I think.
Jimmy has the exact date recorded somewhere.
PF: Jimmy, how do you remember Pan-Con in the beginning?
Jimmy: It began as a fusion of two overlapping groups in town. Boomer and Jerry's Bio Cub/Chem
Club crew and the underground newsletters they published...and the boys and girls from the Obi Cabin crew. It all evolved
into Pan-Con and making movies to be shown to the community. It was very, very cool.
PF: What do you know about the Hawbaker story?
Jimmy: I wasn't there, but Big Jim kept Pan-Con alive for awhile. Probably the best character
we have produced and exploited. He basically runs the website now.
(end of Part I)
to be continued...