Events: SP Networking with Mike Figgis

Posted July 11th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Ahead of our interactive session and networking evening with him, we introduce the Oscar nominated writer director, Mike Figgis.

Mike Figgis is a renowned English filmmaker, screenwriter, composer, photographer, and author. He is best known for his films Internal Affairs (1990), Timecode (2000), and Leaving Las Vegas (1995), for which he received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Mike was born in 1948 in Carlisle but moved to Kenya when he was just six months old. Eight years later, Mike returned to England, settling in Newcastle with his family. Music was an early passion, and he spent most of his youth practising it, even playing keyboard for Bryan Ferry as a teenager. He then moved to London where he continued to study music for three years, eventually becoming a member of influential 1970’s performance group, People Show, an experience Mike credits as informing everything he knows about theatrical technique.

From there, Mike formed a multimedia group to make performance projects for film and transfer his experiences to the screen. He made a number of early films, before being commissioned by Channel 4 to make a film for television, The House, starring Nigel Hawthorne and Steven Rea. In 1988, Mike directed his first feature film, Stormy Monday, which attracted a lot of attention in the US and led Mike to Hollywood. He then went on to direct several other features, before making the film for which he is perhaps best known, Leaving Las Vegas starring Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. 

Leaving Las Vegas is adapted from the novel by John O’Brien and follows the story of an alcoholic screenwriter, Ben, played by Nicolas Cage. Cage meets a prostitute, Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue creating an unconditional love affair. According to Bette GordonLeaving Las Vegas’ “impressionistic visual style and aggressive editing give the narrative a disoriented and reckless feeling that is exhilarating and seductive.” Figgis himself produced all of the tracks and played the trumpet and keyboards to set the mood and “emotional spine” of the film. Leaving Las Vegas was something of a breakout, achieving an Oscar win for Nicholas Cage, a nomination for Elisabeth Shue, and a nomination for Figgis himself in both the writing and directing categories, as well as wide critical acclaim and large box office takings on a small budget.

Five years later, the innovative Timecode was released which was shot simultaneously with four cameras all in one take filmed over the course of fifteen days. Dividing the screen into quarters that show the four different perspectives simultaneously, the film was pioneering in its creative use of cutting edge digital filmmaking, inspiring TV drama, 24, alongside countless other imitationsMike’s fascination with camera technology led him to create his own camera stabilisation rig, known as the Fig Rig. This steering wheel-like system holds smaller video cameras on a platform, and offered an affordable, viable stabilisation system for independent filmmakers working with constraints.

Alongside filmmaking, Mike has curated festivals, directed operas and written several books on filmmaking. His latest book – on screenwriting for cinema, “The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations” comes alongside a set of playing cards, which are used to invent script and story scenarios, and to put an end to writer’s block.

Currently, Mike continues to pursue his passions in photography, technology, and writing. Mike’s photographs have been displayed throughout the world in different galleries. He will also joining SP for a networking event this Thursday, July 13th, where he’ll address filmmaker’s concerns and queries, demonstrate a new build of the FigRig and run an interactive session with the Dramatic Situations cards.

Join SP this Thursday, July 13th, in session with Mike Figgis, with a limited numbers of free tickets left to RSVP for here. The event will kickoff at 7 pm in the Hackney Attic (Hackney Picturehouse’s top floor venue space). Very limited spaces are available.

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