出生在美国堪萨斯州奥佛兰园，阿尔默瑞德很早就对美术感兴趣。他的家庭从堪萨斯搬到了加州橙郡。阿尔默瑞德的家距离电影都会洛杉矶很近，他喜欢上了电影，并大量阅读相关书籍。他参加过好莱坞导演[[霍华德·霍克斯]]和[[约翰·休斯顿]]在社区大学讲授的课程。他16岁认识了[[曼尼·法伯]]，当时后者在Orange Coast College上关于德国导演[[法斯宾德]]的课程。正好阿尔默瑞德当时在读[[曼尼·法伯]]的书Negative Space，[[曼尼·法伯]]对他产生了极大影响。
阿尔默瑞德后来进入哈佛大学学习艺术史，但他很快对学术感到厌烦。Convinced that he should be making movies, he dropped out and moved to New York to pursue screenwriting. He met Tom Pope, who had written a draft of Hammett for Wim Wenders, and the scribe put him in touch with his literary agent. Almereyda would get signed on the strength of a spec script about inventor Nikola Tesla.
‘Michael Almereyda’ is an adopted name, taken from the father of Jean Vigo, who used ‘Miguel Almereyda’ as a pseudonym. Almereyda is a French anagram of “Y’a la merde”
Almereyda got his start as a Hollywood script doctor. His first assignment, which he received within two weeks of signing with his agency, was a rewrite of Mandrake the Magician for Embassy Pictures. He booked a room at the Chelsea Hotel and churned out a new draft in three weeks, but the film was just as soon dropped after the studio changed heads. Some of Almereyda’s dialogue from his writing sessions with Bruce Beresford in Australia remains in Total Recall (1990) and the writer retains a credit for Cherry 2000 (1987). A script for David Lynch went unmade but Almereyda would work again with the director on the film Nadja (1994). His last studio writing job was for a Tim Burton passion project, one based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne story, at Warner Brothers. The film was never made. Almereyda’s additional unproduced works include biopic scripts on James Dean (based on the Rick Moody story “The James Dean Garage Band”) and Amelia Earhart, and an Edgar Allan Poe screenplay that borrows elements from the writer’s life and stories.
Almereyda recently profiled American photographer William Eggleston in the documentary William Eggleston in the Real World (2005). His previous film, This So-Called Disaster (2004), also a documentary, followed Sam Shepard as he mounted a production of his play The Late Henry Moss with Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin, and Nick Nolte in the cast. Almereyda recently completed filming of New Orleans, Mon Amour, starring Christopher Eccleston and Elisabeth Moss, with producer Edith LeBlanc and executive producer Michael Arata. This twisted love story is set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, and features stunning use of the apocalyptic destruction of the city.
The director is noted for his use of the Fisher-Price PixelVision camera. He used the format, which records video onto audiocassettes, most prominently in his 1992 film Another Girl, Another Planet, which won an award for “expanding the possibilities of experimental film.” The camera was also used for subjective perspective sequences in Nadja and Hamlet.