Michael Caplan - Columbia College Chicago

Michael Caplan

Associate Professor



Michael Caplan is an Associate Professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department, specializing in Storytelling, Documentary and Producing.  He is an award-winning independent film director and producer.  His most recent film, Algren is a feature-length documentary that explores the life and legacy of Nelson Algren, the National Book Award-winning author of The Man with the Golden Arm. Algren screened at multiple film festivals and was favorably reviewed by a wide range of news sites, including The Guardian. It is available for streaming on Amazon, Apple TV and OVID TV.  He is currently working on a feature film collaboration with Columbia creative writing faculty member, Joe Meno and a television documentary series about the microscopic life of the ocean. He was one of 10 Chicago-based directors who was commisioned by the Chicago International Film Festival to create a short opening film to run throughout the festival in 2015.  

He also directed A Magical Vision, a documentary that spotlights Eugene Burger, a magician, philosopher, and guru of the magical arts, which premiered at the Gene Siskel Theatre in Chicago and won the Peoples Choice Award at the Spirit Enlightened Film Festival. Previously, Caplan directed Stones from the Soil, a personal documentary about his father's experience during the Holocaust that showed on national PBS. He also is the producer of multiple award-winning feature films, including The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, which traced the coming of age of a gay man in New York in the 1980s and which The New York Times called, "not just a performance but captured the spirit of a time."  

He received an MFA in Film Directing from Northwestern University and a BA in History from Carleton College.

Instructional Areas

Documentary, creative producing, foundation, experimental film, fiction and non-fiction storytelling.

Creative Practice and Research Interests

Documentary, creative producing, foundation, experimental film, fiction and non-fiction storytelling.


B.A., History Carleton College 1980
M.F.A., Film Northwestern University 1992