Born in Salinas, California, Michael began his studies at the Juilliard School, which led to a position in the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and tours with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan. He wrote and directed his first film, the weirdly dark _Konzert für die rechte Hand (1987) (TV)_, while still a member of the orchestra. Awards and screenings at festivals in Europe and the US ultimately led to his acceptance at the American Film Institute, Los Angeles.
Michael returned to Berlin to direct two music documentaries for German TV, The Reluctant Angels (1992), a history of the castrato in early music - and Cheryl Studer - An American Soprano (1996), shot in Europe and the United States. In 1998, he began his first big feature, Ein tödliches Verhältnis (1998), starring Dominque Horwitz (Stalingrad) and Floriane Daniel (Winter Sleepers) in Berlin's famous Babelsberg Studios. Awards and festivals in Los Angeles, Houston, and Seattle, brought Michael back to the States, where he now lives & works from Portland, Oregon.