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Houston Director gives refreshing adivce to future filmmakers

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 00:01

Director gives refreshing advice to future filmmakers

George Mattingly | The Houstonian

LIFETIME SUCCESS: Michelle Mower’s debut feature film “The Preacher’s Daughter” premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network in August of 2012 and earned the highest ratings of the year for the network.

A Houston filmmaker stressed the importance of building connections and finding a focus in being successful in the film industry to students at Sam Houston State University on Wednesday as Raven Films and the Department of Mass Communications hosted their first speaker of the semester.

Michelle Mower, director of the Lifetime movie, “The Preacher’s Daughter” shared her challenges, rewards and success as she told her story of how she became a successful director and producer to a group of students in Dan Rather room 125.

Even with a degree in Radio, Film and Television from the University of Houston, Mower did not immediately go into making films, but took a different route that she says was a major benefit in being a filmmaker.

 “After graduating [from the University of Houston], I started at the best job I think anyone can have looking for work and that is working for a non-profit media organization in Houston called the Southwest Alternate Media Project,” Mower said.

While there, Mower delved into the film industry organizing professional workshops and classes and connecting with several film professionals from every facet of business. It is those connections she said were instrumental in helping her to take her film from the Indie film circuit to be successful on a major network.

“It was my relationship with my sound person, who I met through my work with S.W.A.M.P that helped me get my sound on ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ edited by the same person who worked on ‘Gladiator’,” Mower said. “You just never know the people you will meet and how they can help you in the future.”

 Even though her debut film was successful, Mower dealt with several challenges working with a small budget such as casting, production and getting her film to major audiences. However, she gave her personal solution, stressing the importance of being open-minded as a filmmaker.

“No plan I had for my movie came to fruition,” she said. “My plan was to make an Indie film and submit it to film festivals. But you have to be willing to make changes for the sake of getting your movie made. Never assume anything. If I did I probably wouldn’t have my movie.”

While ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ was her most successful film thus far, Mower has produced, written and directed several other small projects such as local music videos and movies.

She said the most important thing for beginning filmmakers is to find a focus.

“Even if you work as a production assistant, try out the different departments like costume, lighting or props and find where you fit in,” Mower said. “[Finding a focus] helps you learn one thing well enough and become a craftsman in one area, which is important when filmmakers are looking for a specific job.”

Mower gave realistic insight of how to get involved in the film industry, even if it means starting out small.

“I am established in Houston, and a lot of people think that there is not a lot going on for the arts but it’s the perfect place to make a mark, get attention for it and build a niche.”

Students who listened found Mower’s story refreshing from the stories of the glamour of filmmaking.

“I liked that she didn’t talk about the glory of it all,” Molly Biggar, junior mass communication major, said. “She was realistic, especially when she told her back story. It made her more relatable.”

Other students were enlightened by Mower’s experience with the business side of the film industry.

“I think she gave great insight on the business end of making movies,” Riata Robledo, freshman mass communication major, said. “She told us about very realistic situations that were good to know as student.”

Michelle Mower wrapped production on a new feature film called “Dreamer” in last year and is currently preparing for pre-production on a new film.

For more information on the SHSU film program, contact professor of film Tom Garrett at

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