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Mike Figgis Director Biography
Mike Figgis has emerged as a visionary filmmaker who thrives on taking risks. Figgis has roots in experimental theater and music, which are just two primary influences that contribute to the creative vision evident in all of his feature films and documentaries. Although he has been at the helm of such quintessentially mainstream movies as Internal Affairs with Richard Gere, the British-born filmmaker has exhibited his more eclectic personal style in films such as Stormy Monday and Liebestraum.

Born in Carlisle, England, Figgis started playing trumpet and guitar as a teenager with various rock bands, one of which was the R&B group Gas Board, featuring future British pop star Brian Ferry. After moving to London, Figgis studied music for three years and began playing with The People Show, England's foremost avant-garde theater group (the group would later make a cameo appearance in Stormy Monday as the "Krakow Jazz Ensemble"). The People Show made one album for Transatlantic Records, which was produced by Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

In 1980, Figgis left The People Show to concentrate on writing and directing theater, and to break into film. He formed his own theater company, The Mike Figgis Group, and began creating multimedia productions which included an extensive use of film. Some of his earliest projects, including Redhugh 1980, Slow Fade, and Animals of the City, won awards for their innovative blend of live action, music, and film. They caught the eye of England's Channel Four, which financed Figgis's first film, The House, starring Stephen Rea (The Crying Game). Stormy Monday soon followed and marked Figgis's emergence into full-length features. Figgis wrote, directed, and scored the film, which was set in Newcastle's steamy jazz club world and boasted an impressive cast, including Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sting. He then made the foray into American films by directing and co-scoring Internal Affairs, starring Richard Gere and Andy Garcia.

In 1996, Figgis achieved international critical acclaim for his film Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, which he wrote, directed, and scored. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, and garnered Nicolas Cage a Best Actor award for his portrayal of the alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson.

In the same year Figgis wrote, directed, and scored another film, One Night Stand, which starred Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski, and Robert Downey Jr. The film, released internationally, received wide-spread attention and won Wesley Snipes the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival. His most recent film, Miss Julie, is a spare, minimalist, emotionally provocative adaptation of August Strindberg's classic play of social and sexual tensions. Starring Saffron Burrows and Peter Mullan, the film features hand-held 16MM photography and the split-screen technique that inspired the creation of Time Code.

Recently, Figgis turned his talents to publishing with Projections: 10 Hollywood Filmmakers on Filmmaking, a series of conversations with actors, directors, writers, managers, and agents that probe the workings and mores of the Hollywood system and its driving monetary forces. The rare collection includes Figgis's interviews with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Mickey Rourke, Paul Thomas Anderson, Salma Hayek, and many others. Those interviews and others are also featured in Figgis's Hollywood Conversations, a 20-part television series for England's Channel Four, independently financed by Figgis.


 

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