Michael Winterbottom was born 29th March 1961 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. An Oxford University English graduate who then studied film at Bristol University alongside Marc Evans (Director of House of America, Resurrection Man and My Little Eye), his first job on a film shoot was in his early twenties as an assistant to Lindsay Anderson (Director of If…).
Michael’s first film as Director was a television documentary about Ingmar Bergman in 1989, and he directed an episode of the children’s TV series Dramarama later that year. He carved a successful TV career in Britain – directing the television film Forget About Me in 1990 – and going on to direct various British TV series and episodes including Time Riders, Boon, The Inspector Allen Mysteries, and Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood as well as The Mad Woman In The Attic (the pilot for Cracker). He directed television films Under The Sun (1992), Love Lies Bleeding (1993).
In 1994 he directed the mini-series Family (written by Roddy Doyle) which brought his work to cinema audiences when it was edited down into a feature and shown at festivals. His career moved on to drama feature films and feature documentaries from 1995 when he directed Butterfly Kiss, a story about a mentally unbalanced lesbian serial killer who falls in love with her accomplice as they murder their way around the motorways of the North of England. His naturalistic style and compelling use of pop songs to accentuate narrative was firmly established in this film although it found only a limited audience. His break-through film was Jude, an adaptation of Hardy’s Jude The Obscure, which screened at Cannes and brought wider recognition and numerous offers from Hollywood, all of which Michael eventually turned down to pursue his own interests and style.
Winterbottom is well known for drawing extraordinary performances from actors by allowing them to improvise and encouraging wandering from the script, he uses hand held camera and rough edits to convey a realist feel. He is a major fan of Fassbinder and new wave German filmmaking, and his films often have references to Herzog’s works visually and in dialogue. His dramas often have social and political themes.
He is quoted as saying ‘I don’t particularly like the idea that there’s an arc to the story and that therefore in this scene you have to convey this bit of information or emotion. I like more the feeling that, of course, there is a shape to the story, but that each scene should feel right, should be true at that moment, and that gradually you accumulate these moments of truth until you get enough of them together that it becomes a story that’s interesting.’
Michael has a penchant for Thomas Hardy’s romantic stories and strong female characters and his films often feature romantic scenes of couples being playful on beaches, but his marriage to Sabrina Broadbent, with whom he has two daughters, ended in divorce reputedly due to his workaholism and absences. She wrote a novel widely believed to be about their marriage called Descent: An Irresistible Tragicomedy of Everyday Life.
Michael has enjoyed a longstanding collaboration with screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who went on from being the television critic for Living Marxism magazine to become one of the most respected writers in the English film industry. Winterbottom directed five films based on screenplays by Frank – Butterfly Kiss (1995) Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) The Claim (2000) 24 Hour Party People (2002) Code 46 (2003) and Tristram Shady – A Cock and Bull Story (2005). Winterbottom often works with Marcel Zyskind or Alwin Kuchler as Cinematographer for his films
He has a longstanding relationship with his producing partner – Andrew Eaton – with whom he set up Revolution Films in 1994. The company produced Michael’s old film school buddy Marc Evans’s film Resurrection Man alongside a long list of Michael’s well received cinema masterpieces. Revolution Films has produced 36 feature films which have been nominated for over 100 awards at top international festivals and awards ceremonies, including films selected in competition for the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival (24 Hour Party People, Wonderland, Welcome to Sarajevo), the Berlin Film Festival (Golden Bear and Bafta Winning In This World, Silver Bear Winner The Road to Guanatanamo and The Killer Inside Me) 1 Golden Globe nomination (A Mighty Heart), 1 film selected in competition for the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival (Code 46) and 13 BAFTA / BAFTA TV nominations and 26 British Independent Film Awards nominations.
Michael Winterbottom has directed cast including Oscar winners Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Colin Firth and Tim Robbins as well as Samantha Morton, Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. He has Frequently worked with actors Christopher Eccleston, Shirley Henderson, John Simm and James Nesbitt in his films and is credited with pulling extraordinary performances from comedian Steve Coogan.
Winterbottom’s most recent film The Emperor’s New Clothes looks at the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and global economic inequality and is a collaboration with it’s host comedian Russell Brand. In the pipeline is Russ & Roger, a comedy about Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert making the 1970’s film Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.
• Rosie the Great (1989, TV)
• Forget About Me (1990, TV)
• Under the Sun (1992, TV)
• Love Lies Bleeding (1993, TV)
• Family (1994, TV)
• Butterfly Kiss (1995)
• Go Now (1995)
• Jude (1996)
• Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)
• I Want You (1998)
• Wonderland (1999)
• With or Without You (1999)
• The Claim (2000)
• 24 Hour Party People (2002)
• In This World (2002)
• Code 46 (2003)
• 9 Songs (2004)
• A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
• The Road to Guantanamo (2006)
• A Mighty Heart (2007)
• Genova (2008)
• The Shock Doctrine (2009)
• The Killer Inside Me (2010)
• The Trip (2010, TV)
• Trishna (2011)
• Everyday (2012)
• The Look of Love (2013)
• The Trip to Italy (2014, TV)
• The Face of an Angel (2014)
• The Emperor’s New Clothes (2015)
The Emperor’s New Clothes Trailer
Image of Michael Winterbottom By Siebbi (cropped version of ipernity.com) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.