Robert Mandel will step down as dean of the AFI Conservatory, remaining on the staff while he returns to film and TV directing.
Mandel is an alumnus of the Conservatory and has spent nine years as academic leader of the graduate-level film school. His credits include episodes of “The X-Files,” “Prison Break” and “Lost,” and the films “F/X” and “School Ties.”
During his stint at the American Film Institute Conservatory, he attracted more than a dozen faculty members including, most recently, James L. Brooks as artistic director. Mandel also beefed up the program of mentoring-supervision by professionals in the industry. He added courses in acting, independent film finance, television and show running. He also started a career office for job opportunities and established an AFI Fellow-Alumni mentoring program and helped create programs such as screenwriting pitch sessions to agents, managers and production executives.
The AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines: cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design and screenwriting.
“AFI is my home and always will be,” Mandel said in a statement. “It’s an educational environment like no other in the world, where young men and women learn to make movies – by making movies. It has been my honor to help see the dreams of the next generation become reality and it is they, in fact, that have inspired me to return to directing.”
AFI prexy-CEO Bob Gazzale said, “Mandel embodies the ideal of the AFI Conservatory – storytellers who have enjoyed great acclaim returning to share their trials and triumphs with the storytellers of the future. His contributions to AFI have been extraordinary, and we are proud and honored to know they will continue through his role on the faculty.”
Mandel began his career as a stage director, with productions at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout and the Public Theater, where Joseph Papp was his mentor.