Mike Figgis
Figgis at the 2011 Deloitte Ignite
Michael Figgis

(1948-02-28) 28 February 1948 (age 75)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, composer
Years active1984–present

Michael Figgis (born 28 February 1948) is an English film director, screenwriter, and composer.[1] He was nominated for two Academy Awards for his work in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). Figgis was the founding patron of the independent filmmakers' online community Shooting People.

Early life

Figgis was born in Carlisle, Cumberland, and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya until he was eight. The rest of his childhood was spent in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he was educated at Kenton Comprehensive School (the musicians Ian Carr and John Walters were among his teachers there).[2][3] He studied music at Trent Park College, then part of the Institute of Education, University of London, where he "lived a lie" for three years – he had, in his words, "bluffed [his] way into the music course without being able to read music", although he later learned how to study harmony, counterpoint and composition.[4]


Figgis's early interest was in music. He played trumpet and guitar in The People Band and is audible in their first record (produced by Charlie Watts) in 1968. He also played keyboards for Bryan Ferry's first band, The Gas Board. In 1983 he directed a theatre play, produced in Theatre Gerard-Philipe (Saint-Denis, Paris). This play performed with great success at Festival de Grenada and in Theater der Welt (Munich).

After working in theatre (he was a musician and performer in the experimental group People Show)[1] Figgis made his feature film debut with the low budget Stormy Monday in 1988. The film earned him attention as a director who could get interesting performances from established Hollywood actors. His first American film was Internal Affairs, which helped to revive the career of Richard Gere. His next Hollywood feature, Mr. Jones, was misunderstood by the studio, who attempted to market the downbeat story as a feelgood film, resulting in a box office flop. Figgis poured his disenchantment with the film industry into Leaving Las Vegas, which starred Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, which earned Figgis Academy Award nominations for Best Directing and Best Screenplay. He followed this up with the romantic drama One Night Stand, starring Wesley Snipes and Nastassja Kinski, but the movie received a poor response from critics and was a commercial failure. His most ambitious film to date is the low-budget film The Loss of Sexual Innocence, a loosely based autobiographical film of the director himself.

In 2007, Figgis shot Love Live Long set between Istanbul and Bratislava on the infamous Gumball 3000 Rally, starring Sophie Winkleman and Daniel Lapaine. In 2008, he was called upon by Transport for London to help shoot a public information film entitled A Little Thought From Each of Us, A Big Difference For Everyone, encouraging more considerate behaviour on London's public transport systems, which was then shown in London cinemas. The ad comprised the screen split into four sections, each section showing one of four scenarios all on the same double-decker bus. At the end of the ad, the friction-creating scenarios were resolved and the ad ended on "A little thought from each of us. A big difference for everyone."

Digital video

Forays into digital video technology led Figgis to conceive of and direct Timecode, which took advantage of the technology to create an ensemble film shot simultaneously with four cameras all in one take and also presented simultaneously and uncut, dividing the screen into four-quarters. He returned to the Timecode quad-screen approach for his section of Ten Minutes Older, but has also worked on documentary pieces including a segment of The Blues (called Red, White, and Blues) and a short piece on flamenco. His curiosity with the cinematic use of time has led him to cite Robert Enrico's 1962 film version of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge as an influential film for him. Figgis has a well-documented love-hate relationship with the Hollywood system which leads him to often be an outspoken critic of the system while also despairing the lack of a better alternative. At an appearance at Camerimage in 2005, he expressed the view that filmmaking had become "boring and perhaps need[ed] to become even worse before anything better can emerge" at least in reaction.

At one of the Shooting People events in 2005 he said that filmmaking with a small digital camera made the experience more like painting or novel writing than the movie industry. His fascination with camera technology has also led him to create a camera stabilisation rig for smaller video cameras, called the Fig Rig which places the camera on a platform held within a steering wheel-like system and has since been released by Manfrotto Group.[5]

To promote a new camera phone, Sony Ericsson commissioned Figgis to create Life Captured, a short film made out of mobile phone snapshots taken by 14 people from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, who were selected to submit a series of photos after winning the global competition.[6]

Educational career

Figgis, since 2008, has been professor of film studies at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducts intensive summer seminars.[1]

Figgis was made an Honorary Associate of London Film School.



Year Title Director Writer Producer Composer Notes
1988 Stormy Monday Yes Yes No Yes
1990 Internal Affairs Yes No No Yes
1991 Liebestraum Yes Yes No Yes
1993 Mr. Jones Yes No No No
1994 The Browning Version Yes No No No
1995 Leaving Las Vegas Yes Yes No Yes
1997 One Night Stand Yes Yes Yes Yes
1999 The Loss of Sexual Innocence Yes Yes Yes Yes
Miss Julie Yes No Yes Yes
2000 Timecode Yes Yes Yes Yes
2001 Hotel Yes Story Yes Yes
2002 Ten Minutes Older: The Cello Yes Yes No No Segment About Time 2
2003 Cold Creek Manor Yes No Yes Yes
2008 Love Live Long Yes Yes Yes Yes Also cinematographer
2012 Suspension of Disbelief Yes Yes Executive Yes Also cinematographer and editor

Documentary film

Year Title Notes
1997 Flamenco Women
2001 The Battle of Orgreave
2004 Co/Ma Also executive producer, cinematographer and editor
2017 The Battle of Hastings
2019 Somebody Up There Likes Me


TV movies

Year Title Director Writer Producer Composer Notes
1984 The House Yes Yes No Yes
1991 Women & Men 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Segment Mara

TV series

Year Title Notes
2003 The Blues Episode "Red, White, And Blues"
2004 The Sopranos Episode "Cold Cuts"
2008 Canterbury's Law Episode "Pilot";
Also executive producer
2018 The Affair Episode "401"



  1. ^ a b c "Mike Figgis Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and video lectures)". European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Mike Figgis - Professor of Film - Biography". Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Hollywood director Mike Figgis visits Kenton School". Newcastle Chronicle. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  4. ^ "Mike Figgis: Music". mikefiggis.co.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  5. ^ "Fig Rig. Manfrotto Group". Manfrotto Group. Archived from the original on 8 February 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Life Captured. Sony Ericsson (Sony Ericsson Launch Short Film Competition)". Seenit.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2010.