Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 26 December 1980, David Lowery is the eldest of nine children born to Madeleine and Mark Lowery, a Catholic family. When David was seven, his family moved to the suburb of Irving for his father's work. Some of his younger siblings were born there. Their father Mark Lowery is a Professor of Theology at the University of Dallas; he also has served as departmental chairman and editor-in-chief of the Catholic Social Science Review. Interested in film, Lowery watched everything he could before beginning to make his own work after he graduated from Irving High School.
Lowery had his breakthrough with his first feature film, St. Nick (2009), which follows two runaway children abandoned by their guardians. The film was shown at the South by Southwest festival in 2009. It won the Texas Filmmaker Award at the 2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival. In 2011, Lowery wrote and directed the short film entitled Pioneer, which played at the Sundance Film Festival that year.