TV Independence, Lone Star State Style

Written by Kip Caswell

September 22, 2016   |   Et Cetera, Top Stories   |  

ReelzChannel, which operates the website, is proud to support independent and family owned businesses of all shapes and sizes, specifically because Reelz is itself an independent, family owned business! That’s why the network often features on-air programming created by independently run production companies. One of those, Texas-based AMS Pictures, recently celebrated its nearly 35 years in the business of storytelling.

In 1982, Andy Streitfeld was just starting his career. He had recently moved to Texas, gotten married, and his wife Carolyn was about to give birth to their first child. What better a time to start a new business?

To make it happen, Andy went to his 90-year-old grandmother and his aunt to borrow the $30,000 he needed to start AMS, which are his initials. In the spare bedroom of his starter home in Bedford, Texas, Andy set up a small production studio and began working the phones. He was a one-man band long before the cell phone or internet.

Andy’s first large client was the Dallas Museum of Art. Serving as the writer, producer, director and cameraman, Andy created a short video that told the story of the museum and its importance to the growth of a new arts district in downtown Dallas.

From day one of AMS, Andy’s philosophy and passion was to create compelling stories to entertain an audience. Being in Dallas was a plus given both the east and west coasts were saturated with production companies. “Texas was a new frontier for storytelling,” says Andy.

Staying true to its vision, AMS Pictures has grown to serve four different markets. Original Programming produces television programs, Alchemy at AMS is a full service agency, Public Interest creates solutions for educators and students and Digital Media provides communications solutions to the corporate marketplace.

AMS has grown to 75 full-time employees with offices and studios in Dallas and Austin, Texas. It has remained independent with Andy continuing to run the company – involving each of his three children over the years. AMS has over a dozen staffers who have worked for AMS more than 15 years.

In 1993, AMS pitched Reelz a documentary program based around the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Since then, AMS has gone on to produce many hours of programming for Reelz, including the series Murder Made Me Famous and its upcoming spin-off, Scandal Made Me Famous, which premieres in November.

AMS produces television programs for numerous networks, but Reelz is the only fully independent network with whom AMS works. How is that different?

“Most networks have layers of bureaucracy and gatekeepers who are often slow to make decisions and interfere with the creative process,” Andy says. “Reelz gives us access to decision makers at all levels, which means answers are quick and timely.

“Also, Reelz respects the creative process and lets the AMS team follow its vision in creating and executing their stories. The fact that Reelz is located in Albuquerque means that they are not tied to Hollywood ideas and people,” says Andy from his suburban Dallas production HQ.

The partnership between AMS Pictures and Reelz has led to a successful true crime series Murder Made Me Famous. About to go into production for its third season, this series has created social media buzz as well as ratings success. Hosted by People Magazine reporter Steve Helling, Murder Made Me Famous is an excellent example of the kind of storytelling that Andy Streitfeld has wanted to produce since he founded AMS.