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IFH 337: Directing 70+ Feature Films & Making Money with Mike Feifer

I have a treat for the tribe today. In this episode, I  speak to prolific film producer/writer/director Mike Feifer. Mike has directed over 70 films and produced over 100 feature films. His approach to filmmaking is true indie film hustle. He write/produces and directs 7-10 feature films a year for multple production companies.

Michael Feifer grew up in a show business family.  His father was Head of Television Research for Twentieth Century Fox in the late 60’s and 70’s.  In fact, when Michael was born he was announced in the back pages of The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.  Although Mike’s father worked for Fox, the editor of Variety lived across the street, and his brother shot Super 8 films with J.J. Abrams, surprisingly Mike’s interests were not yet in film but rather photography, art, and architecture.

Mike went on to earn a degree in Architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  It was in Boulder where Mike began to truly understand the use of perspective, color, and composition.  Little did he know that his education in architecture would transcend so well to a career in directing movies.

After graduating from college and working as a furniture and graphic designer, Mike decided to take advantage of the fact that his father was producing independent films.  And, after working on only three projects, at the age of twenty-four Mike produced his first feature.  It was from that point that his career in film took off.  Mike continued to work for his father as Vice-President of Vista Street Entertainment where he went on to oversee all production, run the home video label, and sell films to foreign territories at Cannes, MIFED, AFM, and more.  It was this experience with his father that Mike received an extremely well rounded understanding of the entire business from production to distribution.

Eventually, Mike left the safety of his father’s company and began producing films for others.  In fact, Mike has now produced over 100 feature films.  He even went on to marry one of his directors, Caia Coley. But, there was always a feeling that Mike should be doing more creatively.

He knew that his background in “the business” and his interest and education in art and architecture were merging together to push him to work behind the camera.  And, when a director dropped out of a film that Mike was producing, he finally got his shot to direct.  The film was called Lethal Eviction and it starred Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and Judd Nelson (Breakfast Club).

Once he had the first film under his belt, Mike focused almost entirely on directing.  Mike then went on to write and direct a variety of smaller horror and true crime features which were great experiences that allowed Mike the opportunity to develop his visual style, master the language of film, and learn to work efficiently.  His ability to move his crew quickly and make concise decisions on set allow Mike to get an incredible amount of set-ups shot per day.

Additionally, Mike is considered an actor’s director because of his innate ability to collaborate with his talent yet lead them.  But, he’s also considered a producer’s director due to his ability to bring in films on budget, on-time, and with amazing production quality.

Mike has directed stars such as Val Kilmer, Brittany Murphy, Tom Arnold, Mimi Rogers, Tom Skerritt, Jennie Garth, Peter Bogdanovich, Dean Cain and many more.  Since directing that first feature, Mike has gone on to direct many more films in a wide variety of genres from horror to thriller to drama to comedy.  His films are seen regularly on channels such as ABC Family Channel, Lifetime, Hallmark, The Chiller Channel, and more.  And, his films are sold in every territory throughout the world.

We go over his entire method, how he makes money and how the heck he gets so much done. Enjoy my conversation with Mike Feifer.
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