Michael Axtell, Founder/Creative Producer of Dreaming Monk Productions, on location in Mali, West Africa.

Founder & Creative Director






As the creative director of Dreaming Monk Productions, I have years of experience producing, writing, directing, filming, editing, and wielding a camera. I also provide production coordinating, media education, and consulting services, as well as overseeing budgets and building cohesive creative teams. I use a human-centered design approach to my work. Based in San Francisco with an arm in Los Angeles, I am also available to work in other regions and have ample international travel experience.

Content specialities: social justice, ethnography, video journalism, human development, wellness & spirituality, science and technology, sports, and sustainable fashion.

Contemplative and Methodical Process

From all of my journeys to remote areas all over the globe and by growing up in eclectic San Francisco, I have developed a deep sense that we are all interconnected and interdependent. This notion drives my desire to explore the intersection between science, technology, culture, and spirituality in my work in order to promote the evolution of human consciousness.

While I travel to the clouds to find inspiration and creativity, I keep my feet firmly grounded on Earth to provide tangible project results. Using a cross-cultural lens aided by my extensive academic background in anthropology and world travel experiences, my artistic process involves meditative observation, athleticism, open communication with colleagues and clients, and acute attention to detail. In my work related to social justice issues, I strive to highlight the dynamism of cultural diversity and the power of the human will and spirit.

In video, this includes the use of insightful interviews, ethnographic imagery, participatory filmmaking, avant garde and auteur filmmaking techniques, and an engaging post-production editing style. In photography, this involves capturing moments in time that deeply immerse the viewer into the world and mental state evoked by the image.

My clients have included: American Planning Association (APA), American Institute of Architects SF (AIASF), SF Urban Film Fest, African Sky NGO, Thrive Alliance NGO, SphericaLuminosity.com, SuperWellness.com, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, AGAATI: California, San Francisco Design & Fashion Weeks, Purple Onion Comedy Show, Tenacious Tennis Academy, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.

Current Film Projects

"Nyogon: together" Feature Participatory Documentary set in Mali, West Africa. Producer/writer/director/camera/co-editor. In post-production. Part of SFFILM “Makers Program”.

"A traditional farmer in West Africa just might have discovered the method to end famine in the world." Coming soon.

Imagined Escape” Short Sci-Fi Dance Film. Producer/Co-Writer. Official Selection to the 2019 San Francisco Dance Film Festival. Premieres in early November.

"A Belize Narrative" [working title], Producer. Narrative drama redefining African diaspora and spiritual narratives, set in Belize. In development, from AboveGrey Pictures.

"The Dreaming Monk In Repose"

"The Dreaming Monk In Repose"

Public Presentations/Talks on Filmmaking, Social Justice, and Science

American Planning Association, NorCal Chapter (2018, 2019): Awards Gala Video Presentation featuring the best urban planning projects in Northern California.

Kinetech Arts - Interactive Workshop Guest Speaker (2018): “Integrating fine art with the documentary film form.”

360BayArea Podcast - Featured Guest, Oakland (2017): "Creating engaging video content in today's sociopolitical and artistic landscape in the Bay Area."

SerendipiaLife - Social Entrepreneurship Collective, San Francisco (2016, 2017): "The intersection between documentary filmmaking, science and technology, and social entrepreneurship."  

California Institute of Integral Studies, Anthropology and Social Change Program (2016): "Food security and alternative economic systems, with case study in Mali, West Africa."