Educated at the Universities of Warwick, Paris III (Sorbonne-Nouvelle), where he was a Boursier du Gouvernement Francais (French Government Scholar) and Paris X (Nanterre) where he did his Master’s degree and began his doctorate and while concurrently teaching at the prestigious Lycee Charlemagne and the theatre school at the Théâtre Nanterre-under Patrice Chereau.
He spent most of the eighties as a theatre director and producer in France, Germany, the former Yugoslavia and the U.K., and the nineties as the co-founder and publisher of the Moving Pictures International group of media publications. He established the prolific UK production house
In his relatively short career as a film producer he has produced over 60 feature films and worked with the likes of Peter Greenaway, Julien Temple, Pawel Pawlikowski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Juraj Jakubisko, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, and Stephen Daldry, as well as a multitude of other directors the length and breadth of Europe, South America, Africa and India.
His recent work as a film maker has seen projects developed with novelists James Ellroy, the late Gunter Grass, and Thomas (Schindler’s List) Keneally; IDA writer Rebecca Lenckiewicz, VICE Group founded and CEO Shane Smith, as well as directors like Volker Schloendorff, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Julien Temple
Downey was a long time tutor on Sheffield University's Creative Writing for Film course, and quondam Thomas Ewing Visiting Professor of Film at Ohio University, a member of the Board of Advisors in the film school of Oklahoma University and the co- founder and President of the Motovun International Film Festival in Croatia. In 2014 he took over the Artistic Direction of the Croatian National film festival in Pula to complement his work on the Zagreb Film Festival artistic board and that of the erstwhile Casanonafest.
A long time board member of Mark Dornford May and Pauline Malefane’s Isango Theatre Company in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town he has been involved in four movies with the Golden Bear winning team (UCarmen eKhayeltisha), including Son of Man (Sundance), La Boheme-Umphefumlo (Berlinale) and Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde – Unogumbe (Berlinale).
As an author he has published several lengthy tomes about producing in Europe, notably The Film Finance Handbook published by the Media Business School in two volumes. He acts regularly as an expert for the European Union on MEDIA affairs as well as advising US AID on media related investment projects around the world.
A board member of the European Film Academy for 14 years Mike is just completing his fourth year as deputy Chairman alongside chair Agnieszka Holland, president Wim Wenders and co-deputy Antonio Saura. In 2006 he was voted on to the Council of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and in 2008 he was elected to the BAFTA Film Committee.
He is also a trustee of the White Ribbon Alliance, a major global organisation aimed at reducing levels of mortality in childbirth in the developing world.
Serving on over 20 international juries at film festivals worldwide including the Sarajevo Film Festival, Festival do Rio de Janeiro, Cottbus International Film Festival, Warsaw IFF ,!F Istanbul FF, Montreal IFF, Motovun FF, Sofia IFF, Transylvania IFF, Krakow IFF, and Zagreb IFF he was the subject in 2009 a retrospective of his work at Film and Music Entertainment. Further retrospectives took place in Prague and in Fort Lauderdale on the occasion of his picking up the Producer of the Decade Award.
Mike divides his time more or less equally between his homes in Notting Hill and Istria, and the film sets that he is shooting in various parts of the world.