Childhood – Mike was born in Carlisle but at six months old moved to Kenya for 8 years where his parents moved in eccentric colonial circles. Returning to England and relocating in Newcastle Mike spent his formative teenage years learning to be a musician and playing in rock bands with the likes of Bryan Ferry. A family of seven shared a small council house and learned to speak Geordie fluently.
Next came a move to London where he studied music for 3 years and formed strong connections with various performance artists and musicians and after a brief stint in Biarritz with another rock band Mike became a member of the groundbreaking UK performance group known as THE PEOPLE SHOW.
For the next 10 years the group toured the world and it is during this time that Mike acknowledges he learned everything about theatrical technique as the group was a co-operative without official director.
After an abortive attempt to study film (turned down by the National Film School) Mike left the People Show to form his own multi media group and began to make films for performance. Three successful shows – REDHEUGH (1980) SLOW FADE (1982) and ANIMALS OF THE CITY (1984) were followed by Mike’s first film for TV.
THE HOUSE featured Stephen Rea and Nigel Hawthorne and was commissioned by Channel 4.
All productions were written and also musically scored by Mike, a tradition he has maintained since.
STORMY MONDAY was the first feature film from Figgis and although poorly received in the UK it had critical and box office success in the US and Mike made the move to Hollywood to direct his first feature there.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS (1989) was followed by LIEBESTRAUM (1990), MR JONES (1992), THE BROWNING VERSION (1993). The success of INTERNAL AFFAIRS proved to be misleading and Figgis struggled against a studio system that was less than conducive to his way of working.
Making a decision to break away from the mainstream proved to be intuitive and the success of LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1994) turned his fortunes around once again.
For the next period Figgis mixed his film genres between the more lucrative studio items (ONE NIGHT STAND and COLD CREEK MANOR) and the ‘indie’ (MISS JULIE, LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE) using 16mm and smaller crews (and smaller budgets).
TIMECODE-2000 proved to be a watershed of sorts. It was the first feature film ever to be shot in real-time without a single edit. It utilized 4 screens and a cast of 30 Hollywood actors all improvising around a structure.
TIME CODE 2000 changed many perceptions about film and ushered in a digital era. It also inspired the tv series ‘24’.
After 15 years in and out of Hollywood it was time for a change and Figgis decided to focus on other aspects of creativity for the next period. Increasingly in demand as a teacher of film Mike has created a series of master classes which have taken place across Europe and the US. He is also a visiting teacher at THE LONDON FILM SCHOOL and THE NATIONAL FILM SCHOOL.
A book – DIGITAL FILMMAKING proved to be a best seller and has become a text for younger cineastes. He has continued to explore the possibilities of digital feature production with LOVE LIVE LONG (2007) and COMA (2005) as well as many short films.
OPERA – Mike directed the experimental opera THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET (based on the Rushdie novel) for the Manchester international music festival.
Next was his production of Donizetti’s LUCREZIA BORGIA for the ENO. Both productions utilized film.
FESTIVALS – JUST TELL THE TRUTH (2011) ROYAL OPERA HOUSE was curated by Mike over a 3 day period and featured a huge range of cultural icons including John Berger, David Lynch, Paul Auster Alber Elbaz, Peter Blake etc.
PHOTOGRAPHY – Mike has been photographing since the age of eleven and his work has been exhibited in NY, LA, London, Hong Kong, Lodz. He has close ties with the PHOTOGRAPHERS GALLERY in London and chairman of the fund raising committee there.
BOOKS – as well as the DIGITAL FILMMAKING mike is the author of IN THE DARK and HOLLYWOOD CONVERSATIONS and has contributed to many magazines and newspapers on a regular basis.
BROADCASTING – Mike is a regular on BBC R4 and also presents an arts film slot for SKY TV.
DOCUMENTARIES – VIVIENNE WESTWOOD (1994), JUST DANCING AROUND (1995), FLAMENCO WOMEN (1998), RED WHITE AND BLUES (2003), HOLLYWOOD CONVERSATIONS (1996) JUST TELL THE TRUTH (2011)
COMMERCIAL WORK – Mike also makes commercials but is particularly proud of the series of films he made with Kate Moss for Agent Provocateur. ‘The 4 dreams of Miss X’ is credited with revolutionizing the world of knickers and lingerie.
MUSIC – Mike continues to perform on trumpet, guitar and bass with a variety of groups, some traditional jazz based, others more experimental (the People Band). He also works with pianist and performance artist ROSEY CHAN creating video content and performing occasionally.
His work is available on CD.
Mike is in the editing stage of his latest feature SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF, an erotic thriller which examines the structure of the feature film as a plot device. It stars Sebastian Koch, Lotte Verbeek and Julian Sands and is due for release very soon.