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Houston’s own film and TV studio complex considers University of Houston’s campus

for its home base

HOUSTON, TX (June 21, 2019) – The University of Houston is in final discussions with the Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund for the location of the Fund’s proposed Sam Houston Film Studios complex on approximately 17.5 acres of University land located on its main campus.

The proposed building site is adjacent to the University’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and would include a new, four-story parking structure for both University and Studio use with space for up to 600 vehicles.

The proposal under discussion remains subject to final approval by The Texas State University System’s Board of Regents. Other possible locations under consideration include sites in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

Current designs for Sam Houston Film Studios boast five sound stages, adjacent workshop facilities, production offices, dressing rooms, conference rooms, rehearsal studios, editing suites, screening rooms, as well as flex space to accommodate any size film or TV production.

“Having a strategic alliance with a state-of-the-art motion picture studio complex right here on campus would bring incredible added value to the University’s School of Communication,” exclaimed former Board of Regents Chairman Welcome W. Wilson, Sr. “It would also greatly benefit the city of Houston by attracting a larger workforce to the area while growing the local economy.”

Sam Houston’s EVP Production and Development Steven Jon Whritner added, “The motion picture industry is a global, $40 billion dollar a year business. We believe it’s about time Texas, and Houston in particular, got a larger slice of the pie. Our wish is to attract more quality production to the state and the economic benefits that go along with it by offering the finest infrastructure and talent available. If we can accomplish this mission while enhancing what the University of Houston has to offer its students and faculty, so much the better.”

Similar strategic alliances between major film studios and universities exist across the U.S., including University of Southern California’s relationship with 20th Century Fox; the New York Film Academy’s satellite operation on Universal Studios’ lot; and Brooklyn College’s Graduate School of Cinema’s partnership with the newly expanded Steiner Studios in New York City.

In addition to the University of Houston having direct access to Sam Houston Film Studios’ facilities whenever production space is available, PBS station KUHT and NPR’s KUHF, which currently share offices and studio space in the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting on the University’s campus, would relocate their operations to the newly constructed studio complex.

Developer for Sam Houston Studios is currently anticipated to be Gerald D. Hines, with Texas based SpawGlass anticipated to be the project’s Architectural Engineer and Project Manager.

The Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund was established to promote film and TV production in the State of Texas and throughout the Southwest region of the United States.

For more information regarding the Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund or Sam Houston Film Studios, contact

"You Have Arrived" a short film by Matthew Minson

Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund adviser Matthew Minson, has completed his short film You Have Arrived, which is now enjoying its festival run. This was Matt’s directorial debut of a dark comedic take on a timely, global concern. Inspired by the work and commentary of Steve Wozniak this film is the story of a young couple who are initially amused when their GPS and Tablet navigation systems begin giving conflicting driving directions. This soon turns to embarrassment and something much more uncomfortable when the devices threaten to tell everything they know about the humans to get them to comply.

When asked about it, Matt explained his idea.

“The theme of this deceptively simple, short narrative – in which a young couple is socially manipulated by the communications devices designed to serve them – is most simply stated as one of threat. Not necessarily from some menacing rise of the artificially intelligent machines, though that certainly is a part, but rather from the seductive ease of surrendering our ability to critically think to the point of dependence, and ultimately, subordination .

Oh and for the record, I do believe that as the computer points out, foreplay is longer than 35 seconds.”

Check back for updates on festival dates and showings.

Sam Houston SW Film Investment Fund congratulates Derek Hill, Board Adviser of the Fund

Sam Houston SW Film Investment Fund congratulates Derek Hill, Board Adviser of the Fund for with his latest Emmy nominated work on “Ozark”.

Stowe Story Labs Sets Sam Houston First-Look Deal

HOUSTON, TX and STOWE, VT (September 2018) – Stowe Story Labs and Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund have agreed to a first-look deal covering potential financing and development of original screenplays and teleplays written by or being developed by Lab participants and further developed during Stowe’s popular annual Fall Narrative Lab and Writers’ Retreats.

The pact was made between David Rocchio, Stowe Story Labs Founder and President, and Steven Jon Whritner, Sam Houston’s Executive Vice President, Production and Development, during this year’s Fall Narrative Lab, held over four days from September 8-11, at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Vermont. The new partnership provides Sam Houston a right of first refusal on select scripts curated by Stowe Story Labs and fitting Sam Houston’s exacting submission requirements.

Now in its sixth year of operation, Stowe Story Labs is a non-profit that brings emerging screenwriters, filmmakers and creative producers from around the world together with seasoned, working industry professionals to help get work made and seen. The Lab pairs attendees with top industry mentors, such as Academy Award® nominated creative producer Amy Hobby and Academy Award® nominated screenwriter David Magee. The Labs’ industry sponsors include SAGIndie, Seed&Spark, the Page International Screenwriting Awards, Tangerine Entertainment, and Final Draft.

“We are excited to partner with Sam Houston,” said Rocchio. “We help nurture some of the world’s best talents,” he said, “and by now working with Sam Houston we have another powerful tool to help these artists to bring their visions to life.”

“The Labs are the film industry’s best-kept secret, but not for long,” said Whritner. “Participants are drawn to Stowe both for its inspirational, scenic beauty and the meaningful program put together by the Labs. Participants come away with the tools to enhance their work and jumpstart their careers. There’s simply no better creative incubator than Stowe Story Labs,” he said.

Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund is chartered to promote filmmaking in the Southwest region of the United States, while fostering creative talent and bringing quality entertainment to a global audience. Through strategic alliances with leading production entities such as Cross Creek Pictures and Lynmar Entertainment, Sam Houston provides financing for every phase of content creation, from development through production and distribution.

For more information regarding the Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund, please contact Steven Jon Whritner at (646) 335-2643 or go to For information regarding Stowe Story Labs, contact David Rocchio at (802) 279-1258 or visit

“INCIDENTALS” Novella Named To Faulkner-Wisdom Short List

HOUSTON, TX (September 2018) – Supernatural thriller “Incidentals” screenwriter and Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund board advisor Matthew Minson has been honored by the prestigious, nationally recognized William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition ( for his novella, “Incidentals” upon which the screenplay is based.

Some reviewer comments for “Incidentals”:

“... this clever story is, in a way, misleading. It presents itself as a supernatural thriller, when in truth it is really something more, a very insightful social indictment of intolerance and human failing. Very sly writing indeed.”

“... funny, witty, creepy and thoughtful. I may never pay for a motel room with a credit card again.”

Minson was additionally honored as a finalist in the novel category for his book “Sun City” and as a finalist for NIP for “Perspectives.”

“We are very happy for Matt and celebrate this well-deserved recognition,” said Steven Jon Whritner, Sam Houston’s EVP, Production and Development. “We look forward to bringing “Incidentals”, the movie, to the big screen."

Minson is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning social advocacy series “Prepare to Defend Yourself” and is currently working on his next book for Texas A&M University Press.

Motion Picture “INCIDENTALS” Begins Development

HOUSTON, TX (October 26, 2017) -- “Incidentals”, billed as the first Buddhist-feminist horror/suspense story, recently wrapped an immersive table-read, rehearsal experience at Rice University’s Hamman Hall. Five students from the university’s Theatre Program were hand selected by Christina Keefe, Professor in the Practice, Director - Theatre Program to participate in the workshop, which was directed by the screenplay’s author Matthew Minson.

“This was a particularly gifted group and a wonderful experience,” said Minson. “It will benefit the project greatly once we begin pre-production.”

Currently in active development, “Incidentals” is a feature length motion picture that tells the story of a flawed millennial writer who encounters a supernatural spirit of retribution at a seedy motel in the Barataria region of Louisiana. Described by critics as a “Christmas Carol meets Psycho” it’s a combination of dark humor and chilling supernatural suspense with a new villain that many describe as the next iconic persona of horror. Plus it has “that scene” which has been called the most disturbing in a decade.

Written and directed by Minson and produced by Steven Jon Whritner under his aegis Plymouth Rock Entertainment, Inc., “Incidentals” is expected to begin pre-production in spring 2018.

“Matt is a gifted writer and has crafted a contained script that delivers in every way imaginable,” proclaims Whritner. “‘Incidentals’ features an entirely unique premise and boasts the kind of terrifying, unforgettable set pieces fans of the horror genre crave most.”

Minson is best known for the film “New Soul” (2013) and his award winning book series. Whritner is the executive producer behind such award-winning series’ as TLC’s “Repo Men: Stealing for a Living”, in addition to the scripted drama series “Son of the Dragon”, currently in development.

Rice University is located in Houston and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university is also highly ranked for best quality of life by the Princeton Review and for best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Incidentals... they add up.

Matthew Minson's novel The Young Entrepreneur’s Club is in Top 25 of the 2017 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition!

SHSWFIF Board Adviser, Matthew Minson’s novel, The Young Entrepreneur’s Club has advanced in the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, LPMC, to the Top 25 for 2017.

LPMC is sponsored by The Tracking Board, in exclusive partnership with Michael De Luca Productions, Inkshares, and Energy Entertainment. 


SHSWFIF congratulates Matthew with this achievement!


This is how Launch Pad describes Matthew's book.




A  teenager begins a murder spree using the skills he's learned in his high school's Young Entrepreneur's Club, calling into question the relative morality of killing "in the right way."


Toronto To Open With ‘The Magnificent Seven’

Toronto To Open With ‘The Magnificent Seven’


The SHSWFI Fund has ceased and suspended further construction on the new studio

Antoine Fuqua has finished filming of the remake of "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN" with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in lead roles, that is planned for release in September 2016. Antoine reports to that this new film was the most challenging to direct and may be his greatest work to date. MGM and Sony have produced and the Fund has offered P&A financing. Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund continues to support Antoine as one of the best directors of today.

Antoine finished filming of The Magnificent Seven

Antoine Fuqua has finished filming of the remake of "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN" with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in lead roles, that is planned for release in September 2016. Antoine reports to that this new film was the most challenging to direct and may be his greatest work to date. MGM and Sony have produced and the Fund has offered P&A financing. Sam Houston Southwest Film Investment Fund continues to support Antoine as one of the best directors of today.

The Fight for Authenticity in SOUTHPAW


Our lead makeup artist, Liz Bernstrom, had a problem -- and it was entirely my fault.

While shooting one of the fight scenes on our Pittsburgh set of Southpaw, she was having a nearly impossible time keeping the fake blood on our actors' faces and bodies. Keep in mind, when you're shooting a movie you have to pay extremely close attention from take to take that your actors' makeup stays consistent, otherwise the audience will notice that something's not quite right. The fact that Liz was dealing with the complications of fake blood and the likes of prosthetic swollen eyes and noses is not unique to a boxing movie, of course. But I wasn't shooting this like any other boxing movie. Instead of creating the illusion of fights in the ring, I was insistent that we film each fight in three-minute rounds, like an actual match. Could we achieve a respectable scene using a million takes and edits and special effects? Maybe. But my cast and crew will tell you that if there was one thing I was unabashedly passionate about during the making of SOUTHPAW, it was authenticity. I think most of them probably never want to hear that word - authenticity - ever again.

So Liz powered through sweat and hits and a continually rolling camera, making her job a thousand times tougher than it ordinarily would be while making a movie like this.

When Kurt Sutter came to me with his script for the film and Jake Gyllenhaal signed on for the role of Billy Hope, we really had an embarrassment of riches on our hands, because we were all equally adamant when it came to making this as real as possible. A big part of it for me was personal - boxing is a huge part of my life. I got into the sport when I made TRAINING DAY about fifteen years ago, and it's been a part of my day-to-day ever since. No matter what kind of project I'm working on, or where, I make sure there is a ring nearby or right on-set with me. It's a sport that I've come to love and respect and continue to be fascinated by, so it only felt proper to pay homage to it on film in the most realistic way possible.

It's been well-documented at this point what an incredible, grueling training regimen Jake went through to get ready for this part. For six months, twice a day, he was at the gym with me and our first-class trainer Terry Claybon, not just transforming his body to look the part, but really, truly becoming Billy Hope in technique and mindset. If you've seen Nightcrawler, it should come as no surprise that Jake went to all lengths imaginable to help realize my dreams of authenticity for this movie. You watch him on screen and honestly believe you're watching a fighter that's been in the sport for ten, twenty years, not an actor that worked on it for handful of months.

As director, you can have all the wild visions you want for how your film will be created, how the finished product will take shape behind that vision and live on to be remembered accordingly. But that simply is not a conceivable goal without the proper team behind you. For this movie, I knew that in order to portray Billy Hope in an exceedingly authentic light, we needed to immerse the entire team in the sport itself and make our movie set feel not like a movie set, but a real-life match.

Possibly one of the most fortunate things to happen was securing the likes of the boxing world's most established names to lend their talents and guidance during production. For training the actors and choreographing fights we had Terry, who's a thirty-year boxing veteran and has worked with everyone from Muhammad Ali to Denzel Washington. We also had Tony Weeks with us during filming. For anyone who's never watched a professional fight, Tony is a referee who's hands down one of the most familiar and beloved faces in the game. Then there was Jim Lampley and Roy Jones, Jr. on set with us, whose voices and personalities are essentially synonymous with boxing. I pinched myself when I watched playback and heard those two serving as the broadcasters for our fight scenes. And last but certainly not least, I have to mention the magic behind our camerawork. Our DP Mauro Fiore and I joined forces with Todd Palladino and Rick Cypher, who have been shooting fights for HBO Boxing for a collective forty years or so, and shot the matches just as they would have for television, advising us on everything from where the ring girls would stand to how a boxer would walk through the tunnel for his big entrance into an arena.

With all those legends of the sport surrounding us, there were many times when we all forgot we were shooting a movie and weren't just lucky enough to have scored some ungodly expensive ringside seats at a hyped up "fight of the century," as they call them. One night during filming, Jim Lampley and I were sitting talking shop about Michael Nunn and James Tony fighting in Davenport, Iowa in the early '90s. Mid-conversation, Jim suddenly stopped and asked if he was wasting my time with our chat. The answer was no - it was a love of the history and passion behind boxing that drove me to make SOUTHPAW in the first place. Even the tiny, invisible elements like that conversation with Jim informed that authenticity we were trying to accomplish, and for them I am forever grateful.

Antoine Fuqua new film - "SOUTHPAW" successfully released

The Fund congratulates Antoine Fuqua, Director and Board Member, on his success of SOUTHPAW with Jake Gyllenhaal, released on July 24th. 

"Southpaw outperformed its estimates, taking in $16M for the weekend. That puts some suave in the cuts of the mixed reviews which have put a pall on all the "this is your year" talk for Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Actor."

"Southpaw, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent, went beyond expectations and grossed $16.5 million for a fifth place finish, largely due to a strong female draw and diverse audiences (45% of ticket buyers were African-Americans and Latinos)."


Antoine Fuqua new film - "SOUTHPAW" with Jake Gyllenhaal

The Fund congratulates Antoine Fuqua, Director and Board Member on his upcoming release SOUTHPAW with Jake Gyllenhaal, coming out in July this year.

Sam Houston Film Studio Ground Breaking

SHSWFIF breaks ground on new state-of-the-art 5 sound stage film and TV facility; 17 miles south of Austin in Kyle, TX; located at "Studio Estates" off I-35.
Civil engineering is funded and will be completed by the first week of September, and civil works will start soon thereafter with pads and foundations on site by December. Funding being provided by the SHSWFIF LLC in conjunction with a real estate developer EB5. SpawGlass constructions of Austin are the general contractors, and the land owner will be doing the civil works and utilities.
Opening is set for December 2015, and will be Texas first multipurpose film and TV studio. Talks are underway with the University of Texas to provide educational support and development for local talent.

Pushing for The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program funding

Steve Hill, MD of SHSWFIF, meets with Texas Speaker of the House, Speaker Straus, to push for replenishing the film and TV Tax Incentives fund by $100MM. Hill represented case tieing the funding of the new film studio to the continuation of the "Texas Rebate Program" for films produced in Texas. The new Texas studio will open December 2015.

California Productions look to Texas

For the first time, there’s a calculation of just how much coin California is losing as a result of runaway production — and it’s not a pretty picture.

According to the California Film Commission, the state has lost $2 billion in production spending since 2010.

The org’s just-released annual report on the state’s production tax-credit incentives includes an analysis of the fate of the hundreds of projects that applied for the credit but were denied via the commission’s lottery system. The report showed that in the most recent fiscal year, the 326 projects that failed to receive the credit went on to spend $211 million in California, and an eyebrow-raising $1.02 billion — or 83% of their total spending — outside the Golden State.

“The report just reinforces what we hear every day,” says Amy Lemisch, exec director of the commission. “Incentives are among the most important factors in where a project is shot.”

JULY 29, 2014 | 04:00PM PT

Dave McNary

Film Reporter@Variety_DMcNary

The Sam Houston South West Film Fund Endorses TrueSpark

Charity Helping At-Risk Youth Through Inspiring Movies 


"The Sam Houston Film studio in Austin, Texas whole healthy endorses and stands be bind this long over due and needed initiative". "No child should be at risk in this county". "We hope more will follow as our industry so sadly needs more initiatives like this" Steve Hill Executive Director and CEO


To view the TrueSpark trailer use the password: Rudy

TrueSpark Building the Foundation from TrueSpark on Vimeo.


To endorse TrueSpark, simply follow this link:

Antoine Fuqua new film - "Equalizer" with Denzel Washington

The Fund congratulates Antoine Fuqua, Director and Board Member on his upcoming release EQUALIZER with Denzel Washington coming out in September this year. 


MOU for cooperation signed with Cross Creek Pictures

Steve Hill: CEO of Sam Houston SW Film Investment Fund LLC has signed an MOU for cooperation in the areas of 'film equity' and 'P&A financing' with CROSS CREEK Pictures CEO - Timmy Thompson. Both Companies bring credibility, experience  and their joint funding capacities to select projects.  Steve Hill says: " Working with an experienced team such as Brian Oliver and Timmy Thompson is a real honor" in light of their last films success of which the most note worthy was "Black Swan", "The Ides of March" and "Rush". "We hope this will allow the parties to combine the best of both companies; and be able to offer Hollywood a lower costs and better managed Production and Distribution process at one stop". The Fund wants to provide support to CROSS CREEK on their next films. Sam Houston Film Studio expects to open in Austin at the end of 2015 and make it available to CROSS CREEK and other production companies.

50 acres of land have been secured near Austin, TX

SHSWFIF has secured the land 20 miles south of Austin International Airport. The construction funding has been offered and accepted from a major developer in Houston and subject to permitting and civil engineering being completed in next 90 days. Construction of state of art 5 sound stages studio is expected to start summer 2014 and open Q4 2015. The Fund plans to place 2 feature films in the studio annually and will seek other production tenants to provide the investors with full utilization of the facility supporting the production of films in Texas. 

State of Texas passes tax incentive bill to support films in Texas with a 95 Mil Allocation


The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program offers qualifying productions the opportunity to receive a payment of 5% to 17.5% of eligible Texas spending or 8% to 29.25% of eligible wages paid to Texas residents, depending on budget levels and types of productions, upon completion of a review of their Texas expenditures.
More here:


Texas also offers:
  • Up-front Sales Tax Exemptions on most items rented or purchased for direct use in production;
  • Refunds of the 6% State Occupancy Tax on hotel rooms occupied for more than 30 consecutive days;
  • Refunds on Fuel Tax paid on fuel used off-road.


One of Texas' strongest assets is its depth of crew for film and television projects. Very few other states can match it: on most features shot in Texas, nearly 80% of the jobs are filled locally. That saves on housing, transportation and per diem, and these are not trainees, but experienced professionals who get it right the first time.


The information below is provided by the Directors Guild of America and the Independent Film & Television Alliance. It should not be viewed as tax advice with respect to your production activities. The Texas Film Commission does not have further information about these federal tax incentives and cannot advise you on how they may apply to your production. For such advice, consult with your tax advisor.

Sneak preview of the new Sam Houston Film Studio in Texas, Opening in 2020


The "Olympus Has Fallen" trailer released on Apple iTunes Movie Trailers

When the White House (Secret Service Code: "Olympus") is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning's inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President, and avert an even bigger disaster.

Click below to view the trailer, now on iTunes Movie Trailers

Fund seeks lobbyist to push Film Tax Credit

Discussions are underway to appoint the Texas based law firm - Baker Botts - as the 'registered lobbyist' for the SHSW Film Investment Fund. An engagement letter has been signed with the law firm - Gardere LLC. - to draft the new 'Texas Film Credit Legislation'.

Antoine Fuqua’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, Starring Gerard Butler; Film to Open March 22th, 2013.

FilmDistrict Acquires US Distribution Rights For Olympus Has Fallen Starring Gerard Butler.


Film to be released wide in the US on April 5, 2013

Los Angeles, October 26, 2012 – FilmDistrict announced today that it has acquired US distribution rights to Millennium Films’ OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman and directed by Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY). FilmDistrict plans to release the film wide on April 5, 2013.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is an action thriller starring Gerard Butler, a disgraced Secret Service agent who is called back to duty when the White House is taken over by terrorists.  The movie also stars Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell and Rick Yune.

The film is written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt and produced by Fuqua, Butler, Alan Diegel, Ed Cathell III, Danny Lerner and Mark Gill. The executive producers are Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Heidi Jo Markel.

FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel stated, “Olympus is a great action thriller that will keep audiences guessing and on the edge of their seat.  Everyone at FilmDistrict is happy to be in business again with Avi, Mark and the team at Millennium and with a film starring Gerry Butler, who also stars in PLAYING FOR KEEPS.”

Houston... Endeavour goes to Hollywood

FA18 view of Space Shuttle Endeavour's flyover Southern California. This video starts over Ventura and goes down the coast past Malibu to LAX and beyond.

SAM HOUSTON SW Film Investment Fund LLC Reaches Agreement with CAA Creative Artist Agency of Los Angeles

The SAM HOUSTON SW Film Investment Fund LLC has reached agreement with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) of Los Angeles to represent the company and its fund on film investments and the placements of P&A financing through the CAA Film Investment Group. Negotiations are underway to place 12 Million with Sony on to support the P&A for Olympus Has Fallen that was recently completed by Millennium Studios at Shreveport, Louisiana.  CAA will also be representing the Fund with Xian Qujiang Film and TV Investment Group, and CFG in China for the production of the full feature film about the Tang Dynasty to be released in 2014. 

Agreements have been reached with Derek Hill and Antoine Fuqua

Agreements have been reached with Derek Hill (world famous Artistic Film Director) and Antoine Fuqua (World famous top ranked Film Director) to co-own and manage a new Studio to be built in Austin Texas. 

Plans for a "Full Feature Film Studio" in Austin Texas are Underway

Funds submit Plans, Drawings and a Full application to the State of Texas for a 12 Mil Grant to fund the acquisition and building of a new "Full Feature Film Studio" in Austin Texas.  Opening is planned for 2014. 

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