The show centers around detective Ethan James, played by Terry Weaver, who is investigating the disappearance of a local high school teacher. It also explores topics such as suicide, depression, broken families and abandonment, Executive Producer Carla McDougal said. The producer, Reflective Media Productions, is a faith-based organization focused on promoting mental and spiritual wellness.
“The purpose is to really reach those who are experiencing brokenness with mental health issues,” McDougal said. “We’re real excited about the direction its going.”
Production has used several businesses in the Conroe and Montgomery area to film, including the Hodge Podge Lodge, God’s Garage and Spirit of Texas Bank as well as Mosaics of Mercy in Magnolia. McDougal said the community has been very supportive, including through individual donations and title sponsors from companies such as Woodforest National Bank, Spirit of Texas Bank, The Woodlands Financial Group and HFG Wealth Management as well as The Rieser Family Foundation.
“Each one of these episodes is [funded by] donations; it’s not investments,” she said. “It’s a pretty tight budget.”
All of the actors are volunteers, and McDougal said the show is a “passion project.” Several of the actors were coached by Hollywood actor Deke Anderson, who owns Next Level Acting Studios in The Woodlands, she said.
Weaver, who is also the director of marketing and development for Reflective Media Productions, said he first met McDougal at a charity event where the two briefly spoke. Seven months later, Weaver received a call from McDougal—there was a script reading in three days, and they still did not have a lead actor. McDougal had stumbled across a video he had posted online, and she asked him to audition.
“The only acting experience I had was putting together promotional videos for [my] nonprofit,” he said.
Weaver auditioned and landed the role, and he has since taken various acting classes. He also studied detective roles in other films to learn how to get into character.
“I’m a studier and a researcher; I’m a writer; I was able to apply that to acting,” he said.
Weaver said he is personally touched by the show’s message; he has 10 close friends who have lost a family member or someone to suicide.
“It’s really all around us, but because it’s such a dark issue, no one talks about it,” he said.
"Breaking Strongholds" held a premier of the first episode April 4, and Weaver said the response from the community was positive.
“If it saves one life, it’s a win,” he said. “It’s a grassroots movement to make this happen.
For more information, visit www.reflectivemedia.org.