Media Production Development Zone Program Advisory Committee
The Texas Film Commission’s Media Production Development Zone (MPDZ) Advisory Committee is established to assist the Texas Film Commission (TFC), part of the Office of the Governor’s Division of Economic Development and Tourism, with the review and evaluation of eligible MPDZ applicants. The advisory committee is composed of the director of the Texas Film Commission, one representative of the Texas Comptroller’s office, and nine members who are all appointed by the Texas Comptroller that provide for a balanced representation of the different geographic regions of the state. Additionally, the nine members must represent specific and varied moving image industry segments. The advisory committee will make recommendations to the TFC for approval or disapproval of MPDZ applications. Final decision making authority lies with the Texas Film Commission.
ANIMATION / VISUAL EFFECTS
Greg Lyons – Executive Producer, Brazen Animation
A Native Texan and Dallas resident, Greg attended Texas Christian University and received a degree with a double major in business and film. He got his start in the entertainment industry at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles working on many of their television productions and theatrically released feature films. Greg returned to Texas to take a producer role at Reel FX Creative Studios. While at Reel FX, he worked as Producer on a wide variety of company projects including commercials, short films, feature films, large venue theme park attractions and the critically acclaimed animated feature The Book of Life. At the conclusion of production on The Book of Life, Greg joined Brazen Animation as Executive Producer. Greg is responsible for business development and external relationships at Brazen.
Byron Fitts – Executive Producer / Founder, The Department
Dallas resident, Byron Fitts, has been a trusted producer and industry resource for nearly 25 years. He began his career in Dallas, working his way up to produce hundreds of commercials for various production companies and brands. In 2005, he transitioned to The Richards Group, producing national advertising campaigns for The Home Depot, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast Cable. However, it was in 2013 that he founded The Department, a full-service commercial production company that serves the ever-changing creative needs of advertising agencies, clients, and directors worldwide. Among some of The Department’s clients are Toyota, HEB, Texas Lottery, Texas Wesleyan, Famous Footwear, Norwegian Cruise Lines, The Home Depot, Key Bank, Wolf, The Salvation Army, MD Anderson, Chanel, KFC, Nestle, and Fiat.
In addition to his leadership at The Department, Byron has served as a two-term president of the Southwest Chapter of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), a national organization which represents exclusively the interest of production and post companies that specialize in producing advertising content for advertisers and agencies. Currently, Byron is serving on the Advisory Committee of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program (CDDP), an initiative between the AICP and the DGA to promote and involve more minority directors and directors of color in commercial advertising.
FILM / TELEVISION
Michelle Mower – Film and Television Writer, Director, Producer
Michelle Mower received her B.A. degree in Radio/Television from the University in Houston in 2000. After graduation, she became an Associate Producer for the morning news program at the Houston NBC affiliate. In 2003, Michelle joined Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), a non-profit media arts organization as its Program Coordinator. While at SWAMP, Michelle organized professional workshops, film screenings, networking mixers and special film-related events. But most importantly, she created a summer moviemaking camp for teens and SWAMP’s premiere event, the annual Business of Film Conference. Since leaving SWAMP, Michelle has written, directed and produced a number of feature films and shorts. Her debut feature The Preacher’s Daughter garnered the highest ratings of any movie on Lifetime Movie Network in 2012, and she continues to direct and produce content for the network. Michelle previously served on the boards of Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) and Women in Film and Television (WiFT). She currently sits on the boards for Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) and Houston Community College’s Department of Film and Audio Production.
André Thomas – CEO, Triseum
André Thomas' career spans the fields of education, game, and film, and that wide range of experience has coalesced into a passion for game-based learning. A graduate of LCAD MFA in Game Design, he founded and serves as the director of the LIVE Lab in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University, where he also teaches game design, game development and interactive graphics techniques. In 2014, he founded Triseum, where he serves as CEO and leads the creation of its award winning academic video games. He is an EdTech Leadership award winner, National Academy of Sciences board member, National Arts Education Association lead instructor, and Chillennium Game Jam chair. André also has been invited to speak at numerous education and technology events, including SXSW, TEDx, ASU-GSV, BETT, Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, Austrian Ministry of Education and European Schoolnet. His game-based learning insights and ideas have been featured in the Huffington Post, Austin Business Journal, eCampus News and Learning Solutions Magazine. With more than 25 years in CGI production, André has worked around the world on legendary video games, live action feature films and memorable commercials. Previously he was Head of Graphics for EA Sports Football games (including Madden, the longest running and most successful sports franchise in games industry). He also created graphics for such notable films as Men in Black, Con Air, Independence Day, Valiant, Ant Bully and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Steve Belsky – President, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 484
Steve Belsky began his career in the early 1990’s working in the lighting and camera departments of Austin-area productions such as Dazed and Confused and Flesh and Bone. His credits include big budget features (Stargate) and episodic television (JAG, Relativity, Friday Night Lights). Steve was initially the Business Manager when the Texas chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) Local 484 was formed in 1992. He became President in 1996 and continues to this day, representing Studio Mechanics in Texas and Oklahoma working in construction, art, electric, sound, special effects, and several other film/television production departments. In 2010, he received a J.D. degree from the South Texas College of Law and now also works full-time for I.A.T.S.E. International as Co-Director of the Broadcast Sports Department.
Shelly Schriber – President, Film Fleet LLC
Shelly Schriber has been a film industry professional since she was sixteen years old where she started out as a Craft Service Assistant for the blockbuster hit, “Dazed & Confused.” Today, Shelly is the President and General Manager of Film Fleet, LLC; a nationwide film transportation rental firm. With over twohundred pieces of equipment in inventory, Film Fleet boasts one of the largest fleets in the Southern US and is known for its ‘family oriented’ customer service. One of her proudest moments is her team’s prompt response in mobilizing ninety-five individual emergency response living quarters to our linemen during Hurricane Harvey. In her time away from the office, Shelly likes to flex her philanthropic arm through volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. She also created and fostered the “Crew Helping Crew” campaign that cultivates charitable contributions to members of the Texas film industry. Past campaigns include: expunging individual medical expenses, computers for the Texas State University Film Program, Bastrop wildfire relief, and toys for the Angel Tree Christmas drive.
Fernando S. Cano II – Film and Television Production Manager
DFW-based Fernando S. Cano II has been involved in film production in numerous capacities for over twenty-five years, having worn such hats as producer, cinematographer, production manager, production coordinator, assistant director, and location manager on everything from feature films to shorts, documentaries, music videos, and commercials. His feature credits as a producer include Pain Flower, No Pain, No Gain, As Long As I Remember: American Veteranos, Latinos Living the American Dream, Line of Duty, and The One I Wrote for You. Fernando continues to work as a freelancer and tackles production logistics for various companies from across Texas, the USA and internationally.
Joe Dishner – Film and Television Producer, Production Manager
Joe Dishner is a native Texan and graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in the film industry for over 25 years as a Producer, Line Producer, and Unit Production Manager. Early in his career he worked as Location Manager on Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful as well as David Byrne’s TRUE STORIES. Joe has gone on to have a diverse career, comprising feature films, TV series, documentaries, and TV commercials. His producing and production manager credits include feature films (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, A Simple Plan, Dreamer), episodic television (Ghost Whisperer, Dallas, 22, The Good Guys), and PBS documentaries (The Fort Worth Watergarden, Gimble’s Swing). Additionally, Joe was a founding co-publisher of The Austin Chronicle, and he is a long time member of The Directors Guild of America.
Suzanne Weinert – Film and Television Producer
Suzanne Weinert began her career as the VP of Shoelace Productions participating in the development and production of over 14 narrative features and documentaries. She is the writer/producer of Exterminators starring Heather Graham and Jennifer Coolidge which premiered opening night of the SXSW film festival in 2009. She is the producer of The Legend of Hell’s Gate (2011) starring Henry Thomas, Eric Balfour, Jenna Dewan and Summer Glau as well of the Executive Producer of Hellion (2014) starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. Most recently she Executive Produced the Texas films On Fire which shot in Bastrop, TX and Match Me If You Can which shot all throughout the Austin area. She is a faculty member of both Fordham University and The School of Visual Arts in NYC and serves on the Board of the Austin Film Society. She divides her time between NYC and Austin, TX.