David Franko

Full Sail’s David Franko

Disney World’s got nothing on Full Sail Real World
Education’s facilities, at least according to David Franko, Full
Sail’s Program Director for Film. In fact, it was while working
at Disney that Franko first stopped into the school to see if what
he had heard was true. “I stopped in to see the facility and could
not believe it was a school,” he says. Ever since, Franko has been
letting the rest of the world in on the Full Sail difference.

With six different degree programs for what they call
“creative minds” and production facilities that would make most
of their Orlando industry neighbors jealous, Full Sail’s reputation
is growing on a national level. Franko recently spoke with MM about what makes the Full Sail program unique.

Jennifer Wood (MM): Can you talk a little
bit about the Full Sail philosophy- the dedication to hands-on-training,
for instance, and what you’re striving to have your graduates accomplish.

David Franko (DF): Our philosophy is to help
students achieve their career dreams. We put them into a “real world
atmosphere” on film and video sets. We we’d like our students to
achieve a familiar setting in the department they want to seek a
career in. Our school is really a production facility, training
people on the most current gear. When they leave, they feel comfortable
in that production or post-production setting.

MM: While many other traditional film schools
offer only four-year, bachelor degree programs, Full Sail’s is a
two-year, associate degree program. Are associate’s degrees just
as desirable to employers in the film industry?

DF: Yes, I feel an associate’s degree is just
as desirable. Employers are very impressed when they look at the
training our students go through. And when they see the gear that
our students train on, they’re amazed.

MM: What is the typical Full Sail student like:
average age, previous education and work experience, etc.? What
do you think typically sets Full Sail students apart from individuals
studying moviemaking at other institutions?

Full Sail students

Full Sail students have access to two soundstages
and a host of production gear and lighting.

DF: Our typical student is between the ages
of 18 and 25. Some of them might have some prior experience or a
bachelor’s degree, while others are right out of high school. Our
students are really focused on what they want to do. They come in
ready to train hard at all hours of the day. Their schedules are
unlike other schools-this alone shows dedication to their craft.
They are in school 40 plus hours per week-and during production,
even more.

MM: One thing that Full Sail stresses is
that students learn both the technical and artistic sides of their
craft-much like this magazine’s focus on both the art and business
of moviemaking. How do you stress this balance in your classes and
day-to-day operations? Why do you think that this dual focus is
often overlooked in so many other programs?

DF: Technology never creates a great production.
Film is an art and students here tend to understand this as they
go through our curriculum. I always say technology is the icing
on the cake. Without a good story, creativity, careful design and
planning, a production can go sour with even the best technology
behind it. I feel that students coming into all film schools might
forget the roots of film. If a school does not reinforce the art,
the art is lost within the student.

MM: Full Sail is based in Orlando. Can you
talk a bit about the current moviemaking climate in your area? Do
students have ample opportunity to go out and get some real-life
experiences in central Florida?

DF: Orlando has many opportunities for independent
filmmakers. With Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando
close by, central Florida always has different films in production.
Nickelodeon’s "Slime Time" lets our students backstage
for an in-depth look at production.

MM: What piece of advice would you give
someone who is just now looking to enter into a film education program-any
film education program? And what would you advise those looking
specifically at Full Sail?

DF: Choose a program that is well-balanced,
one that does a thorough job teaching both the technological and
creative side of film. My advice to potential Full Sail students
is to learn everything that you can and get involved. Teachers are
here to help you, so pick their brains. When you’re a student here,
work on your colleagues’ films. When you think you’ve had enough,
learn some more. Graduates from Full Sail can also come back at
any time to audit a course at no charge.

MM: What is the one thing that you think
sets Full Sail apart from all the other film-related education programs
out there? What is the one thing you are most proud of regarding
your program?

DF: We focus on the film craft with our lectures
and our extensive hands-on labs. I am most proud of our dedicated
staff, our focused students and our amazing production facilities.
We have four sound stages totaling over 30,000 square feet of production
space, a scenic shop, a lighting and grip department and five large
editing suites. Sorry I just can’t name one-that’s just too hard.

For more information on
Full Sail Real World Education, visit: