Frank Daniel

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Frank (František) Daniel (April 14, 1926 – March 29, 1996) was a film director, producer and screenwriter born in Kolín, Czechoslovakia (the present day Czech Republic). He is known for developing the sequence paradigm of screenwriting.

Life[edit]

František Daniel entered film after earning a master's degree in music. Before emigrating to the United States he produced and directed over 40 films in the former Czechoslovakia, including Ján Kadár's Oscar-winning The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na Korze) (1965). Frank was involved in the movie as a producer, but in the Czech movie industry at the time everyone worked together on almost all the films done. This was a time of communism where rank and social standing were considered western evils. The film community rallied together against the bureaucracy to get each other's films financed and made. Frank was not especially interested in screen credit and lent a hand in every production that needed help. In addition to producing films, Daniel also directed two films.

Work[edit]

His biggest contribution to cinematography, particularly American cinema, has been as a teacher and as the head of some of the world's most prestigious film schools. Daniel taught filmmaking – screenwriting in particular—around the world.

Daniel was the first foreigner to be allowed entry into the prestigious All-Union State Institute of Cinematography, now known as Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

Upon his return home, Daniel founded his own production company and also served as dean of the Faculty of Film and Television – FAMU part of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Prague's famous film school. While in charge, he was liberal in allowing such blossoming filmmakers as Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel leeway to make their own types of films, regardless of Communist government sanctions, which helped lead in the liberalization of his country in the 1960s.

In 1956, Daniel and Miloš Kratochvíl published the screenwriting textbook Cesta za filmovým dramatem (The Path to Film Drama). Orbis publisher.

In 1957 he published his book Stručný přehled vývoje evropských dramatických teorií (The Compact Overview of European Dramatic Theories).

In 1968, he produced The Shop on Main Street, which won an Oscar for the best foreign language film.

Emigration[edit]

Daniel immigrated to the United States in 1969 after the Soviets invaded his country. Where the Ford Foundation director Neil Lowery assigned he the research and evaluation of every motion picture education program in the US. In 1969 he became the first dean of the American Film Institute. One of his protégés was future director David Lynch, who specifically mentions a special thank you in Eraserhead, 1977. Daniel left the Institute in 1976 to become the Luce Professor at Carleton College in Minnesota. In 1978, he moved to Columbia University, where he was reunited with Miloš Forman, his former student. When Robert Redford founded Sundance Institute in 1981, Daniel was appointed Artistic Director, a guiding post he held for over a decade. He taught at Columbia University until 1986. After Columbia he became the dean of USC School of Cinema-Television, a post he stepped down from in 1990, continuing to teach screenwriting in the Graduate Screenwriting Division. He continued to develop scripts until he died on March 29, 1996, at the age of 69 in Palm Springs, California, of a heart attack.

Speaking of the late Daniel in a 1996 interview, David Lynch said, "I am sorry to say he died not long ago, and I have to tell you that he was my only teacher. He gave much to other people, he helped many people. He was a nobleminded and nonegoistic man, and no one understood the art of film making as he did. He understood it and truly loved it – his criticism was always constructive and never purposely offended anybody. He was open about saying what he didn't like, but he did it in a way that would help you. And that cannot be said about most of the critics in USA. I am very sorry he is not here."{Kinorevue, July–August 1996}

In 1983, a chapter by Daniel, on Czech cinema, entitled "The Czech Difference" was published in Art and Commitment in the East European Cinema, edited by David W. Paul, pp. 49 – 56, ISBN 0-312-62631-2.

He was an advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation, consultant to David Rockefeller, member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Noted Associates of Daniel's: Vojtěch Jasný, David Lynch, David Howard, Edward Mabley, Paul Nibley, Alex Nibley, Miloš Forman, Ján Kadár, Ladislav Grosman, Elmar Klos

Filmography[edit]

The most notable of his projects are:

External links[edit]

Frantisek Daniel at Find a Grave