Michael Dowse

Michael Dowse

Born in London, Ontario, Canada, Michael Dowse was raised in Calgary, Alberta by his parents, both Irish immigrants. After earning his master's degree from Yale business school in the late '90s, he began working as an editor and director on commercials and music videos for Canadian bands like the New Pornographers, whose inventive video for their first single "Letter From An Occupant" got both band and director a lot of notice. His feature debut as an editor came with the Canadian comedy "Bad Money" (1999) shortly before he directed the short "237" (2000), about the lives of people spent in the titular hotel room. From there, he made the leap to feature films with "FUBAR" (2002), an offbeat mockumentary about two miscreants who are forced to tackle their own maturity - and mortality - when one of them is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Written, directed, edited and filmed by Dowse, who funded the project with credit cards, "FUBAR" was selected to screen at the Sundance Film Festival, and became a cult hit throughout Canada. It helped put Dowse on the Canadian cinema scene, thanks in part to a Genie nomination for Best Achievement in Editing. For his second feature, Dowse moved from Canada's rock and roll underground to another small but fiercely loyal subculture: the dance scene on the Spanish island of Ibiza for the another mockumentary, "It's All Gone Pete Tong" (2004). A wry mix of comedy and drama, the picture followed the life of a party DJ whose rise to the top of his profession is interrupted by his sudden and unexpected deafness. "Pete Tong" won not only critical acclaim but also top prizes at several major film festivals, including Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and Best Feature at the US Comedy Arts Festival, and two more Genie nods for Best Screenplay and Achievement in Direction. The popularity of his sophomore feature led to an offer from Universal to make his Hollywood feature debut with "Kids in America," a 1980s period piece about an aimless college graduate (Topher Grace) who sets his sights on wooing his high school crush (Teresa Palmer). Completed in 2007, the picture was summarily shelved by the studio, which was alarmed by the prospect of promoting a youth comedy that featured numerous scenes involving cocaine use. Dowse then segued to television with the sitcom "The Foundation" (Showcase 2009-2010), about a corrupt director of a philanthropic organization. In addition to creating and producing the series, Dowse also directed and edited numerous episodes. After the show ran its course, Dowse revisited his early hit by directing "FUBAR: Balls to the Wall" (2010), a sequel to his feature debut which sent his hapless heroes to the frozen oil fields of Canada's northern territory. The following year, "Kids in America" was finally released as "Take Me Home Tonight" (2011) to mostly negative reviews. (The film did have one saving grace for its cast: costars Anna Faris and Chris Pratt met, fell in love and married while making the film.) Dowse then regrouped by directing "Goon" (2011), a comedy about a bar bouncer (Seann William Scott) who joins a minor league hockey team as an "enforcer" or "goon"- a player unofficially designated to physically intimidate opposing team members. Based on the autobiography of real-life "goon" Doug Smith, the picture, written by actor Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen's frequent writing/producing partner, Evan Goldberg, was a critical and box office hit, netting three nominations at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Achievement in Direction for Dowse. After collaborating with Ken Scott on the screenplay for veteran Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar's 2013 comedy "The Grand Seduction," Dowse returned to the director's chair for "The F Word" (2013). The romantic comedy starred Daniel Radcliffe as a young man infatuated with a girl (Zoe Kazan) who only regards him as a friend. The Irish-Canadian picture premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, where it received excellent reviews from critics, many of whom marveled at the light touch applied by Dowse, whose previous efforts were marked by their loud, occasionally crude humor.