Hey, I'm Michael!

San Francisco, California


Michael Axtell, award-winning video producer and owner of Dreaming Monk Productions, was born and raised in the misty hills of San Francisco, California. He is known as Yacouba Sangaré in Mali, named after his host-brother there. Michael has a passion for visual anthropology and is the descendant of several generations of farmers, adventurerers, and teachers on both sides of his family. He studied film and video production at the Bay Area Video Coalition and the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking and recently won the Best Commercial Award as Producer for "Pancakes" at the HollyShorts Film Festival, the "Cannes" of the short film world. He first started building his craft while working for two years as a producer, director, cameraman, editor, and anchor on “Gaucho Scoreboard,” a sports television show at UC Santa Barbara.

     He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his work strives to highlight the wisdom and insight of ancient and traditional forms of knowledge while exploring the intersection between human ecology, science and technology, and the evolution of human consciousness.

     Over the past several years, outside of work as a video producer, he has trekked to the Outback and Great Barrier Reef of Australia, walked on the sands of Zanzibar and the primordial Serengeti plains of Tanzania, regularly attended sumo wrestling events during a year living in rural Japan, and has loved conversing with the locals in Spanish during his several trips to México. He traveled to Mali for a month to shoot footage for this film on his first trip there several years ago, and finished principal photography in 2016 after two more amazing weeks in Mali.

    Nyogon will be his first feature documentary film.

My Projects

Projects I'm Supporting

Zen is Now: The Kwan Um School of Zen Today

Portland, Oregon Film Feature

Where the Kwan Um School of Zen is today


This project got the green light!

Fantastic Santa Monaco

Los Angeles, California Film Feature
Drama, Satire

A film about a group of performance artists who are looking for love, connection and significance in Los Angeles.


This project got the green light!


New York City, New York Film Short
Drama, Thriller

A violent altercation between a police officer and a black man left one person dead. A couple passing by must decide what they believe.


This project got the green light!

Paper Birds, Film Production Fund

Oakland, California Film Short
Action, Drama

A desperate TV starlet with a rocky career makes an attempt at getting back in the spotlight by joining the circus


This project got the green light!

Women's March - a documentary by TrimTab Media

San Francisco, California Film Short
Action, Documentary

On January 21, 2017, millions of women came together in solidarity to march in cities across America.


This project got the green light!

Nyogon: together

Dissan, Mali Film Feature

Sometimes global change starts with local action.


This project got the green light!


Los Angeles, California Film Short
Drama, Shorts Program

Frustrated at her inability to accurately remember a particular time of happiness in her life, Minny sets out to find it again.


This project got the green light!

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