Michael Spiller


Biography

Michael Spiller began his career as a director and cinematographer after meeting fledgling indie director Hal Hartley in college. Spiller then served as the director of photography on Hartley's most critically and commercially successful movies, including "The Unbelievable Truth" (1989), "Trust" (1990) and "Amateur" (1994). Spiller's New York background made him a natural choice to work ...

Biography

Michael Spiller began his career as a director and cinematographer after meeting fledgling indie director Hal Hartley in college. Spiller then served as the director of photography on Hartley's most critically and commercially successful movies, including "The Unbelievable Truth" (1989), "Trust" (1990) and "Amateur" (1994). Spiller's New York background made him a natural choice to work as a cinematographer on HBO's paean to Manhattan "Sex and the City" 1998-2004), it was on this series that he began his directing career. Spiller carved out a career directing some of his era's most popular sitcoms, including "Scrubs" (NBC 2001-08, ABC 2009-10), "The Mindy Project" (Fox/Hulu 2012-17), and "Modern Family" (ABC 2010- ), for which he won both a Primetime Emmy and a Director's Guild award for Outstanding Directing.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, Michael attended The State University of New York at Purchase, where he met his future long-term collaborator, director Hal Hartley. It was the beginning of a fruitful partnership, with Spiller serving as director of photography on all of Hartley's movies from the director's very first short film "Kid" in 1984 right up until 2001's "No Such Thing." In between, the pair collaborated on a series of critically-adored movies that would help define American independent cinema in the 1990s.

Spiller began his directing career during the second season of "Sex and the City" in 1999. His flair for comedy was quickly recognized, and after four years as the show's cinematographer and seven episodes as a director, Spiller moved to Los Angeles to pursue his new career. He moved into directing half-hour sitcoms just as the form was undergoing a stylistic re-invention that included more single-camera shows in which the director's choices became a key storytelling device. Perfectly placed to capture this new style, Spiller directed 20 episodes of innovative medical sitcom "Scrubs" before becoming one of the key directors on the immensely popular mockumentary sitcom "Modern Family." Continually in demand, Spiller directed multiple episodes of some of the era's most innovative sitcoms, including "New Girl" (Fox 2011- ), "Cougar Town" (ABC, 2009-12; TBS, 2013-15), and "Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23" (ABC 2012-13).

Filmography

 

Cinematography (Feature Film)

No Such Thing (2002)
Director Of Photography
Chinese Coffee (2000)
Additional Camera
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Director Of Photography
Hell's Kitchen (1998)
Director Of Photography
The House of Yes (1997)
Director Of Photography
Henry Fool (1997)
Director Of Photography
Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog (1997)
Cinematographer
Walking and Talking (1996)
Director Of Photography
Phinehas (1996)
Director Of Photography
Search and Destroy (1995)
Director Of Photography
Flirt (1995)
Director Of Photography
Amateur (1994)
Director Of Photography
Handgun (1994)
Director Of Photography
The Dark Half (1993)
Camera Operator
Wadeck's Mother's Friend's Son (1992)
Director Of Photography
Simple Men (1992)
Director Of Photography
Angry (1991)
Director Of Photography
Age Isn't Everything (1991)
Director Of Photography
Theory of Achievement (1991)
Director Of Photography
Trust (1990)
Director Of Photography
Framed (1990)
Camera Operator
The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
Director Of Photography
D.O.A. (1988)
Assistant Camera
No Picnic (1986)
Camera Operator (2nd Unit)

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Not Nude Though, A Portrait of Rudy Burckhardt (2002)
Photography
The Dark Half (1993)
Photography
Household Saints (1993)
Additional Photography

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (1994)
Special Thanks

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Other
Henry Fool (1997)
Other
Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog (1997)
Other

Cinematography (Special)

Alexander Calder (1998)
Cinematographer
Dragtime (1997)
Cinematographer
The VH1 Fashion Awards (1996)
Director Of Photography
Punch & Judy Get Divorced (1992)
Director Of Photography
Surviving Desire (1991)
Director Of Photography
Stood Up (1990)
Director Of Photography
Imagining America (1989)
Camera Assistant

Life Events

1984

Photographed his first film, Hal Hartley's short "Kid".

1999

First directorial credit on "Sex and the City"

2011

Nominated for the 2011 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series ("Modern Family")

Bibliography