Michael was born in San Francisco, went to high school in Toronto, Canada, then attended the National Theater school of Canada and went on to direct theater. He formed his own theater company in Toronto, ‘Theater Front’. He started taking his live performances off stage to other locations, and filming them. These films were screened in snobby festivals around the world. Soon after that, Michael went broke. He moved into his mother’s basement and went to Ryerson film school. He made two short films: ‘Clean – Rite Cowboy ‘ and ‘ Why Don’t You Dance?”. Both were screened at the Toronto Film Festival, (2000 and 2001) Both were nominated for Genies. He was then offered a scholarship to attend the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
This was a critical turning point in Michael’s life and career. It also meant he could move out of his mom’s basement. His graduating film – ‘Fine’ won a student Academy Award in 2003. After graduation Michael signed with Canadian Commercial Production company Radke films in Toronto. In Canada, his ‘Science World’ spot won a bronze Lion at Cannes and a pencil at the One Show. He then signed with American production company, Harvest Films. His Super Bowl spot for Bud Lite, “Sky Diver’ is one of the top twenty Super Bowl spots of all time.
Downing signed with Epoch Films LA/NY, in 2008. And almost had to move back into his mother’s basement because the economy folded like a cheap card table. But since then, Michael has enjoyed a great collaboration with Epoch directing spots for Stride, ESPN, Toyota and Netflix. His resent Samsung commercials parodying fervent Apple loyalists has becomes a huge success. The :60 version of the launch spot for the campaign saw over 2.4 million hits on YouTube.
Michael is with Partners Films for commercials in Canada where he has done spots for Wallmart, Auto Trader and Quaker.
Downing is currently based in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. He enjoys surfing and working his ass off. His wife has recently informed him he will not be attempting to make it on the PGA tour. So instead, Michael’s developing a number of feature projects he hopes to shoot soon. He has no immediate plans to move back to his mother’s basement.