Recently Completed: The Unruly Mystic: An inspirational documentary of how the filmmaker reaffirms his life’s work when he fell in love with a 12th century Saint.
This short biography might help explain why this film is important to me.
I had the misfortune of not being in college when film programs became the vogue. I always seemed to have missed the boat by a year or two, and had to basically create my own programs. I started at the University of Colorado, Boulder: a few years after I left two guys from South Park showed up. I declared myself an art history student but really wanted to be a painter. However, after two years the art department started to seem really small, and my interests were becoming "multimedia." It wasn't easy to interact with other disciplines like theater or dance, or even get the kind of attention from teachers due to the size of the classes. I decided to transfer to a smaller college that had a great reputation of interdisciplinary collaboration: The Colorado College.
You don't go to college to learn just about the past, but if you are smart, you use the time to learn about yourself. I found myself fixated on the mythology of the city, and its immense draw in popular culture. This study eventually became my thesis project as an undergraduate student. I made art, wrote poetry, took photos and made experimental videos on my own city, Denver.
Eventually, I felt compelled to articulate this experience into film, and through the good graces of several people in the production community of Colorado Springs, and a grant from the College, I was able to make my first 16mm film entitled PUBLIC FIXTURE.
The film took several months to shot as I explored my subject in more and more detail. I even enlisted the support of one of Colorado's notable experimental filmmakers at the time, Stan Brakhage.
Brakhage's influence wasn't limited to the experimental, but more to giving me permission as an artist, to tell my own story in my own way.
PUBLIC FIXTURE is best described as an everyman's poetic journey to the city, and how we each become another public fixture in the artifice of the city.
A few years after I graduated, the noted Hollywood director, Sidney Pollack, had a daughter at CC, and a film program quickly emerged.
My "official" career in film in 1986, started when I was fresh out of college, working for "free" on a spot directed by Steve Horn. Little did I know it at the time, but Steve Horn Productions was the most successful commercial production company in the world. Steve had also studied painting at Yale. It was an inspiring as my own interest in film came from painting, and now to see how a painter could be come a successful director. One conversation that I remember clearly was how he told me that he brought all of the action into and out of frame as if it were a "moving painting." How I managed all conversations with all the activity going on, and me a lowly production assistant, is beyond me now. For all of my forwardness, I actually got "paid" and was told I would have a job if I came out to NYC!
The fork was clearly in the road now. Should I go to graduate school or take the road of hard-knocks, and real world experience. It is one of those decisions that you sometimes regret with the foresight of a 40 year old, but when you are in your twenties, you are generally sick of school, and want to make your own trail. So that is what I did. I picked up any PA job I could get which wasn't too hard in those cash-rich days in the late 1980s. I got a lot of practical experience, plus I was making a living! However, I wasn't being an artist, I just didn't have time nor could I afford to, I had bills to pay and things to buy.
In 1987, my wife and I moved to Los Angeles, when I was referred to the Roger Corman Studios by a family friend. That experience was my graduate school of sorts, a filmmaking 101 experience. Poorly paid and long hours all added to the education. I learned about clandestine shoots, maniac directors, taking extra roles to make extra cash. It was everything a Hollywood experience should be.
I worked all the different angles in Hollywood. As an agent’s assistant I learned the importance of knowing names and being able to drop them. Working at the studios I learned to stare down screaming Executive Producers even when they threaten your future. I hammered nails, and keyboards, read scripts and made phone calls. But, there was something very specific that I wasn't doing. I wasn't making films. As I would later realize, I was creatively constipated.
So, when I was offered a job one of the top interactive games company’s as a producer I leaped at the opportunity. There I was able to do some of the only live action film-making in games at the time. I created the filmed version of SimCity. We worked with the most cutting edge technology to shoot an original game called “Cyberhood,” unfortunately it was too original. I also had the opportunity to shoot the “Waterworld” game footage. The gaming world was not quite ready for film and computer animation was becoming the rave. For me, computers moved too slowly and the pixel ratio wasn't up to par. Another dead end.
Eventually, I returned to the idea of making films myself in late 1996, when I directed and produced a super-8 short, called WHITE NIGHT. After several unique multimedia projects came my way, again, I was able to confidently move away from Hollywood to better pursue my unique vision.
In Portland, while working for Intel’s ground-breaking “Smart Toy Lab” or “Intelplay”, I produced the Digital Movie Creator, a digital camera that shoots four minutes of video at a time, and that can be edited with software, and extensive stock footage. I also made several other short films.
We returned to Colorado in mid 2002 where I dove into the film community. Here I created Group 101, a community of directors who are committed to making a short film every month. I am producing a film festival in Boulder, called The Boulder Shoot Out, in which the object is to make a winning 7 minute film in 24 hours, using only in-camera editing. It’s an exciting time. Technology is finally good enough to be of service to the artist.
In 2002, I started my own video production company with a focus on the marketing, corporate and government types of videos.
More than 10 years later....
Michael's video marketing experiences range from being one of the first to market with using budget conscious online YouTube videos to drive organic web traffic though SEO Video best practices, to creating inspiring sales videos for large corporations, to green screening video webinars for educational purposes, to educating and inspiring regional communities through his film making contests. Michael also provides media trainings for small and large businesses.