Michael Givens


Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement...let me go upstairs and check.   – M.C. Escher 


Having traveled the world shooting feature films and commercials, Director/Cinematographer Michael Givens earned an international reputation for creating memorable images and stories that honor budgets and win awards. For many years, Michael has guided his career through photography, cinematography and directing with credits including more than 35 feature films and a thousand plus commercials. His extensive, creative experience found a home on his most recent feature film “Angel Camouflaged” where he served as writer, director and cinematographer. In a rare addition to his multi-faceted resume, Michael secured the financing for this powerful story of redemption set in the world of Rock and Roll. 


A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, Michael established his career as a renowned photographer in the fashion and music industries before progressing into the film business when he became the cinematographer of choice for such noted directors as Ridley Scott, Stephen Frears, Philip Borsos, Ron Maxwell and Peter Smillie. Michael’s directorial debut in 1989 was under the tutelage of Ridley Scott while at RSA. Since then he has directed successful, award winning commercial campaigns for a number of large corporations, financial institutions and manufactures including; UPS, Credit Swiss, Pepsi and Visa. Michael is often asked by advertising agencies to not only direct and shoot their television commercials, but also their print campaigns, thus ensuring a consistent look and cost effective strategy for the client.


Following his affiliation at RSA, Michael built a successful relationship with the production company, GLG and then formed his own company, Michael Givens & Associates. He also joined forces with 5 time Academy Award nominated Director /Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel, at Dark Light Pictures. 


Currently, Michael is represented by a number of the finest production companies abroad with recent projects including: Wrigley’s and Iams for all of Europe, Milka and Persil for Germany, Mizuno for Japan, Amaro Montenegro for Italy and Audi for Russia; Fix-o-Dent (worldwide) and multiple worldwide Whiskas spots. Michael’s music videos have included films for 2 Live Crew and lce-T. His feature film credits include directing and photographing the second unit for Coyote Ugly and Cinematographer on The Celestine Prophecy (based on the best-selling book by James Redfield ). 


Opposite Day served as Michael’s feature directing debut and stars French Stewart, Pauli Shore and Dick van Patton. His music drama, “Angel Camouflaged” is currently seeking distribution and stars James Brolin, Carlos Bemard, The Marshall Tucker Band, Kurtis Blo, Patty Smyth and international rock sensation from the network reality show, Rockstar Supernova, Dilana. 


While filming in nearly every corner of the globe Michael’s reputation as a director-cameraman, who easily adapts to difficult and hostile locations, earned him the distinction of being the first western director to film in Vietnam since the end of the war. Utilizing a comprehensive network of international affiliates and contacts, Michael successfully plans and directs productions worldwide. Whether the story calls for shooting on location in Europe, Africa, China or the United States Michael assembles the finest technicians and production team available to ensure the success of the project. Recognizing the need for effective visual styles to reflect and speak to different cultures, Michael continues to create successful campaigns for global audiences.  


Michael brings a highly refined sense of storytelling to his work drawn from years of study and experience, including his time spent as acting coach at the renowned John Kirby Studios in Hollywood, Ca. Combining decades of knowledge as a director and cinematographer, Michael Givens has devoted his career to creating stunning visuals and dramatic performances that ensure “The message sent is always the message received.” 

Michael directs James Brolin.

On break with Black Jack.

Michael Givens Academy class photo.

MGA is an acting studio, school, and art center located in the heart of Charleston, SC. 


MGA offers courses in acting with a main focus on film, television, and commercials. The acting classes include: fundamentals, scene study, advanced scene study among workshops in topics such as auditions and the acting business. MGA acting school offers 4 and 6 week classes in acting.


Mission: At Michael Givens and Associate Acting and Film Institute, we develop sophisticated, yet remarkably simple techniques that increase spontaneity in performance and clarity in storytelling. Through classes, workshops, and publications we share these techniques with professional actors, directors, writers, aspiring artists, and young people. We utilize these techniques in productions, through which we connect our work with audiences. MGA serves as the artist home for a thriving community of artists who share a passion for spontaneous creative expression and clear storytelling. Our goal is to give people a powerful experience that positively transforms their lives. 


MGA isn’t just for actors, it’s for anyone interested in the film industry. I’m a director and cinematographer who started taking acting classes to learn the actor process, so I could become a better director. I thought, “Who better to learn from than a working director such as Michael Givens?” Now, not only am I a better director and cinematographer, but along the way I fell in love with acting and I’ve become an actor!


- Sarah Dionna

Instructing future cinematographers at MGA.

© 2019 Southeast Film Guide