Michael directed The 414s for CNN, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was the director of photography on The Jeffrey Dammer Files, and was the editor on the ESPN 30-for-30 MECCA: The Floor. He is currently editing a documentary on the police shooting of Dontre Hamilton in 2014, tentatively called Mothers for Justice.
As a kid, Michael and some of his friends used a VHS camcorder to make a film. The film, which he describes as, “Something about the C.I.A, some ambiguous ‘papers’, and a lot of ketchup-blood,” went on to win the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum Film Festival in Milwaukee. He was an overnight success. But that early luck didn’t convince him to go into film.
Instead, he went into the University of Minnesota, and then worked in Chicago as an assistant at a high-end wedding photography studio. “I learned a surprising amount about photography, composition, lighting, and really, filmmaking and documentary,” Michael says. “I learned how to cover events with wide shots, close-ups, and reactions – and that even in a wedding there are main characters and a supporting cast that make up the visual story of an event.”
Next came four years working in Los Angeles as an editor in “the television machine.” He worked on a slew of shows, including one during which he had to blur out Bobby Brown’s privates and then met him an hour later over lunch.
“When I begin any edit, I have two main goals – to make you cry or to make you pee your pants. Or both if I’m really successful.”