Michael Mann (born February 5, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has been nominated for four Oscars for writing, directing and producing during the 72nd and 77th Oscars in 1999 and 2004 respectively. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and later went on to receive a graduate degree at the London International Film School.
He spent seven years in the United Kingdom going to film school and then working on commercials, then moved back to the United States after working on several documentaries and began a career as a writer on such shows as Vega$ and Starsky and Hutch. His first feature movie was a made-for-TV special called The Jericho Mile. His television work also includes having acted as director and producer on such shows as Miami Vice and Crime Story. Contrary to popular belief, he is not the creator of these shows but the executive producer. However, his influence is felt throughout each show in terms of casting and style.
Mann is now known primarily as a feature film director and he is considered to be one of America's top filmmakers. He has a very distinct style that is reflected in his works: his trademarks include ethereal synth scores, such as Jan Hammer's theme to Miami Vice or the New Age score to Manhunter. Dante Spinotti is a frequent cinematographer of Mann's pictures. Mann has an affinity for stark urban landscapes and a visual style which often places an emphasis on soft blues and harsh, sterile whites.
His biggest critical successes came at the end of the 1990s with the release of Heat in 1995 and The Insider in 1999. The films, both of which starred Al Pacino in leading roles, showcased Mann's visual style and adeptness at creating rich storylines. The Insider was nominated for several Academy Awards as a result, including a nomination for Mann's direction.
With his next film Ali in 2001, he started experimenting with digital cameras. On Collateral he shot all of the exterior scenes digitally (with the Viper FilmStream camera) so that he could achieve more depth and detail during the night scenes while shooting most of the interiors on film stock. The film helped catapult Jamie Foxx to fame, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Since Collateral Mann has made Miami Vice, the film adaptation of the hit TV series of the same name which Mann executive produced. It stars a completely new cast with Colin Farrell in Don Johnson's role and Jamie Foxx filling Philip Michael Thomas' shoes.