Film producer, author, journalist, theatre director and activist, Mike Downey founded the UK-based independent production house Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) in 2000 as part of an IPO on the Frankfurt DAX and to date has production credits nigh on 100 feature films.
Educated at the Universities of Warwick, Paris III (Sorbonne-Nouvelle), where he was a Boursier du Gouvernement Français (French Government Scholar) and Paris X (Nanterre) where he did his Master’s degree and began his doctorate and while concurrently teaching at the prestigious Lycée Charlemagne and the theatre school at the Théâtre des Amandiers – Nanterre – under Patrice Chereau. He spent most of the eighties as a theatre director and producer in France, Germany, the former Yugoslavia and the U.K., and the nineties as the co-founder and publisher of the Moving Pictures International group of media publications. He then established the prolific UK production house.
In his relatively short career as a film producer he has worked with the likes of Peter Greenaway, Agnieszka Holland, Julien Temple, Pawel Pawlikowski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Rajko Grlic, Srdjan Karanovic, Juraj Jakubisko, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, and Stephen Daldry, as well as a multitude of other directors the length and breadth of Europe, South America, Africa and India. His recent work as a film maker has seen projects developed with novelists James Ellroy, the late Gunter Grass, and Thomas (Schindler’s List) Keneally; IDA writer Rebecca Lenckiewicz, VICE Group founded and CEO Shane Smith, as well as directors like Volker Schloendorff, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Lech Majewski; and writers of the ilk of Lee Hall, Colm Toibin, and David Grossman.
Downey was a long time tutor on Sheffield University's Creative Writing for Film course, and quondam Thomas Ewing Visiting Professor of Film at Ohio University, a member of the Board of Advisors in the film school of Oklahoma University and the co-founder and President of the Motovun International Film Festival in Croatia. In 2014 he became part of the triumverate that took over the Artistic Direction of the Croatian National film festival in Pula to complement his work on the Zagreb Film Festival artistic board and that of the erstwhile Casanonafest. He was also for a few years the Artistic Director of the Turkey’s leading film event, the International Antalya Film Festival.
A long time board member of Mark Dornford May and Pauline Malefane’s Isango Theatre Company in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town he has been involved in four movies with the Golden Bear winning team (UCarmen eKhayeltisha), including Son of Man (Sundance), La Boheme-Umphefumlo (Berlinale) and Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde – Unogumbe (Berlinale).
As an author he has published several lengthy tomes about producing in Europe, notably The Film Finance Handbook published by the Media Business School in two volumes. He acts regularly as an expert for the European Union on MEDIA affairs as well as advising US AID on media related investment projects around the world.
An EFA member for almost a quarter of a century and board member of the European Film Academy for nearly two decades years Mike served three 2 year terms as deputy Chairman alongside chair Agnieszka Holland, president Wim Wenders and co-deputy Antonio Saura. In 2020 he was elected to become Chairman of the European Film Academy. In 2006 he was voted on to the Council of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and in 2008 he was elected to the BAFTA Film Committee. In 2020 he re-joined the BAFTA Council. He is also an Alumnus of the Sundance Institute as well as a member of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.
He is also a trustee of the White Ribbon Alliance, a major global organisation aimed at reducing levels of mortality in childbirth in the developing world, as well as the co-founder of the International Coalition for Film Makers at Risk (ICFR) a charitable foundation which advocates for and acts in solidarity with filmmakers at risk all over the world. In addition in 2020 he became the Honorary President of the LUX - The European Audience Film Award (short: LUX Audience Award) by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy (EFA) and organisation which demonstrates the European Parliament’s commitment to culture. The initiative promotes cultural diversity and provides a tangible support to cinema and the arts. Mike is also a board member of The Arctic Indigenous Film Fund (AIFF) an international collaboration, with partners in the whole Circumpolar Arctic, including Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
Serving on over 20 international juries at film festivals worldwide including the Sarajevo Film Festival, Festival do Rio de Janeiro, Cottbus International Film Festival, Warsaw IFF, Istanbul FF, Montreal IFF, Motovun FF, Sofia IFF, Transylvania IFF, Krakow IFF, and Zagreb IFF he was the subject in 2009 a retrospective of his work at Film and Music Entertainment and in 2015 Prague Film Festival did a tribute to Mike’s career as a producer showcasing a selection of his films alongside Fort Lauderdale’s screening of a major career retrospective.
Mike divides his time more or less equally between his homes in Notting Hill and Istria, and the film sets that he is shooting in various parts of the world.