Jan Schmidt-Garre studied philosophy at the Jesuit University in Munich (M. A. with a semiotic thesis on Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung). He also studied staging and directing at the Munich Film Academy.
During the time he was a student he worked as a trainee and assistant director for stage directors Rudolf Noelte, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, David Esrig, Joachim Herz and Harry Kupfer (at the Salzburg Festival, the Bayreuth Festival, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the Dresden Opera, among others).
He studied conducting and musical theory with Sergiu Celibidache in Mainz, Munich and Paris.
In 1988 he founded Pars Media, a production company which has received international acclaim for its documentaries and feature films focusing on music and the arts. Pars Media productions have been awarded numerous prizes worldwide, among them the main prizes at the film festivals in Chicago, Paris, Monte Carlo, Columbus/Ohio, Munich and Prague as well as a nomination for the German Film Award. Pars Media films have been broadcast in over thirty countries, many have been distributed theatrically and appeared on DVD.
Jan Schmidt-Garre has also started directing opera. He has staged Massenet's Manon, Korngold's Die tote Stadt and Beethoven's Fidelio at the Theater St Gall as well as Strauss' Arabella at the Leipzig Opera.
Schmidt-Garre is a member of the German Film Academy. He gives lectures on directing and aesthetics at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich and the Athanor Academy for Theater and Film in Burghausen. He is married to art dealer Philomene Magers. They have two children and live in Berlin.