Andrew Shapter

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Andrew Shapter
Andrew Shapter.jpg
BornDecember 30, 1966 (1966-12-30) (age 52)
Ft. Worth, Texas, United States
Died23 February 2019(2019-02-23) (aged 52)
EducationTexas State University
OccupationDirector, Photographer, Writer, Producer
Years active1992–present

Andrew Shapter (born 30 December 1966) was an American film director, producer, writer and photographer.[1] Shapter is known for his documentaries, Before the Music Dies (2006)[2] and Happiness Is (2009),[3] [4] his feature film The Teller and the Truth (2015),[5] his music videos with Willie Nelson and The Roots, and his U.N. Summit video on refugees, Refugees Are... Shapter completed cancer treatment in October 2014.[6] Shapter is a partner at creative production company, Roadwings Entertainment, which has offices in Austin, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.[1]

Early life[edit]

Andrew Shapter was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and he majored in Political Science at Texas State University. During his college years, he was a well known lead singer in a few cover bands, most notably " All Shook Down", which had a number one hit in Botswana. In 1992 Shapter graduated from college and interned with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington DC.[7] He then went on to work as a professional photographer for 15 years before turning his attention to filmmaking, directing, writing, and producing.[8]/[9]



The Teller and the Truth (2015), Shapter's third feature film, explores the story of Francis Wetherbee, a beautiful young bank teller who's been missing since a 1974 bank robbery in Smithville, TX.[10] The film was a mock documentary and a "social experiment," as Shapter blurred fact with fiction by blending multiple urban legends into one story. Social media popularized Shapter's version of Wetherbee's story, and the missing woman garnered a "cult-like" following.[11] The Teller and the Truth was shot over a period of five years in Texas, California, France, and India while Shapter underwent radiation and chemotherapy.[12] The film was edited with the help of Nevie Owens and Sandra Adair, members of Richard Linklater's editing team, and stars actress Leilani Galvan and Russell Gustave Ochoa.[13] The Teller and the Truth was met with critical acclaim, and was awarded a score of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.[14]

In response to the 2011 wildfires in Bastrop, Texas, Andrew Shapter and Paul Galvan released a short film entitled Art from the Ashes to raise awareness of the devastation suffered by those affected and to promote charitable donations to aid recovery efforts.


The 2006 documentary, Before the Music Dies, was directed and co-written by Andrew Shapter, and produced and co-written by Joel Rasmussen.[15] Before the Music Dies examines the rise of homogenization within the contemporary music industry.[1] The documentary was an homage to Shapter's brother, John, who had died shortly before the idea for the film was conceived.[16][17] The cast includes many noteworthy musicians including Erykah Badu, Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton, Branford Marsalis and Questlove.[18] Before the Music Dies premiered at the 2006 South by Southwest Film Festival.[19]

Shapter's follow up film, Happiness Is, was released in 2009, and examines the American "pursuit of happiness." [20] Starring the Dalai Lama and Willie Nelson, Happiness Is examines the effect of upward and downward social comparisons.[21] The film concludes with the sentiment, "Recognize what you have; appreciate what you have. Don't get caught up in envy for things you don't need." [22]

The Road to ACL is a 2016 documentary exploring the culture surrounding ACL. It features interviews from bands and fans alike, as well as footage of band performances and clips of fans road-tripping to the festival. The documentary stars bands such as 21 Pilots, Foo Fighters and Alabama Shakes.[23]


Shapter has also completed video projects for HBO and National Geographic Television.[1] He worked as a director and editor on the making of Treme, an HBO television drama series that portrays a New Orleans neighborhood's struggle to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Shapter also produced National Geographic TV's Geo Sessions.[24]


In 2016, Shapter was tasked by the U.S. State Department to produce a video, Refugees Are..., documenting the worldwide refugee crisis.[25] The goal of the video was to rally countries across the globe to further their support for the nearly 65 million people forcibly displaced due to violence and persecution. The video was narrated by Bono, produced by C3 Presents, and shown at the UN Summit on Refugees directly following President Barack Obama's final address to the United Nations.[26]

Shapter filmed and directed a music video for Willie Nelson titled A Horse Called Music in 2013.[27] This video marks the beginning of Shapter and Nelson's creative relationship, which has now turned into more than 100 hours of footage that they both hope to someday make into a documentary that peers into the artist's captivating private life.[28]

In 2010, Shapter created a music video for The Roots' single, "Now or Never" from their album How I Got Over.[27] In an open letter to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences published by the Huffington Post, Shapter includes his musical short film alongside his assertion that The Roots' album How I Got Over should be considered the best album of 2010.[29]


Shapter's interest in photography began when he was 12 years old when he was gifted a Canon AE-1 as he accompanied his father and stepmother on their honeymoon.[22] In 1998, Shapter began to establish himself as specialist in fashion photography, garnering work in major markets including Barcelona, London, New York and Los Angeles.[30] The turning point in Shapter’s career was a South by Southwest photography gig for MTV.[31] Shapter was twice voted "Best Photographer" by the readers of the Austin Chronicle. According to the Austin Chronicle, Shapter's work "...has brought international attention to our style scene and accolades for his moody, stylish creations." [32]

Current and future projects[edit]

Shapter is currently writing and directing a documentary, Porvenir, Texas, centered around the border massacre at Porvenir, during which fifteen Mexican Americans were killed by the Texas Rangers.[33][34] The documentary will explore the actual events of the 1918 massacre through interviews, an archaeological dig, forensic analysis, and a reenactment of the massacre.[35]

Shapter plans to follow up this documentary with a feature film, Porvenir, based on the massacre as well. Porvenir will follow a young Latina grad student as she stumbles across a century-old controversy on the border.[36]

Battle with cancer[edit]

Shapter underwent radiation for almost two years and chemotherapy to treat squamous cell carcinoma. He treated two tumors, one in his neck and one in his back.[31] After five surgeries, he lost “part of his ear, a rhomboid muscle, and 33 lymph nodes.” He is now cancer-free.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Shapter lives in his adopted hometown Austin, Texas with his wife Christina, daughter Faron West, and son William Ford.[37]


  1. ^ a b c d "Andrew Shapter Writer and Director". Roadwings Entertainment. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  2. ^ "Plot Summary for Before the Music Dies". Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Andrew Shapter". Huffingtonpost. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Episode #1 – Andrew Shapter – film maker". Themysteryisthetruth - podcast. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  5. ^ O'Connell, Joe. "Pause/Play: Filmmaker Andrew Shapter's battle to make art and beat cancer". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  6. ^ O'Connell, Joe. "Pause/Play: Filmmaker Andrew Shapter's battle to make art and beat cancer". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Pause/Play". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  8. ^ "Andrew Shapter: Bio". Archived from the original on August 25, 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Andrew Shapter: Bio". Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  10. ^ "The Teller and The Truth". Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  11. ^ "Lights! Camera! Ambiguity!". Texas Monthly. 2016-02-24. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  12. ^ O'Connell, Joe. "Pause/Play: Filmmaker Andrew Shapter's battle to make art and beat cancer". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  13. ^ "The Teller and the Truth". IMDB. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  14. ^ The Teller and the Truth, retrieved 2017-04-28
  15. ^ "Before the Music Dies". Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Andrew Shapter/ Filmmaker - 15 Minute Interview by Russell Gustave Ochoa". Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  17. ^ "Puremusic review of Before the Music Dies". Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  18. ^ "Before the Music Dies". Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  19. ^ Kay, Jeremy. "Bside takes on documentary Before The Music Dies". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Andrew Shapter: Bio". Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  21. ^ Lama, The Dalai; Dowd, Matthew John; Gilbert, Daniel; Graham, Alan (2009-07-30), Happiness Is, retrieved 2017-04-28
  22. ^ a b O'Connell, Joe. "Pause/Play". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  23. ^ Giddens, Rhiannon; Pilots, Twenty One; Jr, Gary Clark; Fighters, Foo (2016-03-11), The Road to ACL, retrieved 2017-04-28
  24. ^ "Andrew Shapter -". Staff Me Up. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  25. ^ Staff, By Nancy Flores - American-Statesman. "Austin film team produces refugee crisis video for world leaders". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  26. ^ "Refugees Are...(featuring Bono)". Vimeo. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  27. ^ a b Shapter, Andrew. "Andrew Shapter's Videos". Vimeo. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  28. ^ Ryan, Caitlyn. "A Day Spent with Willie Nelson in Luck". Lucchese: The Last Word. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  29. ^ Shapter, Andrew. "Roots Fans Send a Message to the Grammys". Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  30. ^ "Biography for Andrew Shapter". Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  31. ^ a b "10 Things to Know about Filmmaker Andrew Shapter". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  32. ^ "Best Photographer- Andrew Shapter". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  33. ^ E., OROZCO, CYNTHIA (2010-06-15). "PORVENIR MASSACRE". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  34. ^ "1918 Porvenir massacre subject of locally filmed movie « Big Bend Now". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  35. ^ "THE MASSACRE AT PORVENIR - Austin Film Society". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  36. ^ Shapter, Andrew (2000-01-01), Mr. Trustworthy, retrieved 2017-04-28
  37. ^ "Andrew Shapter: Bio". Retrieved September 6, 2010.

External links[edit]