David Schulman, Founder of Seattle Film Institute has had a lifelong passion for film. His experience in filmmaking and editing paired with his love of teaching and ability to build curriculums to fuel the next generation of movie makers has built SFI into what is is today.
Sparked interest in film
Dave’s love of film began as a “spectator sport.” When he was in junior high, his father received a fulbright scholarship which took the whole family to Paris for a year. In Paris, Dave cultivated his love for films of all types. In the following years, he pursued both creative writing and film, eventually receiving a Masters of Fine Arts in Cinema and Television from the University of Southern California.
The Beginning of Seattle Film Institute
After graduating from USC, Dave returned to Seattle. In the early days of Dave’s career, he worked as an editor on a number of films. He also took up adjunct teaching at a few local film classes. He really enjoyed teaching, and found that many of his students wanted more than just a taste of filmmaking but had nowhere to go after taking the introductory classes. At that point, Dave would take down names of people interested in a particular topic and get put together a class whenever there were a few people interested in the same topic. From there, the program grew into a small non-degree program, and eventually into the accredited film school it is today.
From Narrative to Documentary, it's the Story that Matters
Dave has a number of favorite directors and movies, and his preference depends on the time and the mood. One of his priorities at SFI is to help the students become good storytellers, regardless of their film genre of choice. He says his work as an editor on a number of documentary films shaped his understanding of the necessity of telling a good story, whether the characters were real or not. He doesn’t like to think of film genres as fitting into specific categories and boxes, but rather a flexible and powerful storytelling medium.
Building Curriculums That Change the Boundaries
Dave says one of his favorite parts about his job is building curriculums that build great filmmakers. He likes solving the puzzle starting with “how can this course help people develop the skills they need to be a good filmmaker” and going from there. While some universities stress the need to have programs that span a certain about of time or check certain boxes, Dave’s main concern is getting his students the best education for a career in their chosen industry.
Goals for SFI moving forward
Dave believes in a serving students for whom SFI is a good fit. Some people need hands on education to thrive, and others need one on one time with professors. Some want to go to a large university where they can root for the football team, and that’s fine too. Dave’s first priority is providing his students with the skills they’ll need to thrive in the workplace, and supporting them with the resources to get there.