AFI Conservatory Dean Robert Mandel Resigning to Return to Directing

Mandel, who served nine years at the helm of the film school, will remain on its faculty.

After nine years as dean of the American Film Institute’s Conservatory, Robert Mandel is stepping down from the post, the AFI said Monday. Mandel, who is planning to return to directing, will remain on the school’s faculty after he completes his current term as dean on June 30.

“AFI is my home and always will be,” Mandel said. “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. There are more stories to tell.”

During his tenure, Mandel brought in more than a dozen faculty members, including James L. Brooks, who recently became artistic director. He also is credited with increasing the time and quality of direct mentoring and supervision of AFI fellows; adding courses in acting, independent film finance, television and showrunning; creating a career office for job opportunities; and establishing an AFI Fellow-Alumni mentoring program. 

“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,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO. “His contributions to AFI have been extraordinary, and we are proud and honored to know they will continue through his role on the faculty.”

An alumnus of the AFI class of 1979, Mandel began his career as a stage director before going on to direct such films as F/X and School Ties and such TV series as the pilot of The X-Files and episodes of Lost and Prison Break.