Though Frantisek Daniel produced over 40 films in the former Czechoslovakia, including Jan Kadar's Oscar-winning Obchod na Korze (The Shop on Main Street) (1965), his biggest contribution to cinema, particularly American cinema, has been as a teacher and as the head of some of the world's most prestigious film schools. He entered film after earning a master's in music. Daniel was the first foreigner to be allowed entry into the prestigious All-Union State Film Institute (V.G.I.K.) in Moscow. Upon his return home, Daniel founded his own production company and also served as dean of F.A.A.M.U., Prague's famous film school. While in charge, Daniel was liberal in allowing such blossoming filmmakers as Milos Forman and Jiri Menzel leeway to make their own types of films, regardless of Communist government sanctions. In addition to producing films, Daniel also directed two films.
Following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Daniel defected to the United States where he found work under Ford Foundation director Neil Lowery, researching and evaluating every film education program in the country. After the American Film Institute formed its Center for Advanced Study of Motion Pictures the following year, Daniel was named its first dean and remained in that position through 1976. While there, he influenced the careers of such directors as David Lynch, Terence Malick, Jon Avnet, and Jeremy Kagan. Daniels left A.F.I. in the late '70s to become the Henry Luce Professor at Minnesota's Carlton College. He and Milos Forman became co-chairs of the Film Division of the School of the Arts at Columbia University in 1978. Shortly after Robert Redford founded his Sundance Institute, Daniel was appointed its artistic director, a position he held for over a decade. Between 1986 and 1990, Daniel was the University of California's dean of the School of Cinema-Television and was also responsible for founding the school's screenwriting department. He has taught screenwriting and filmmaking workshops around the world. Daniel has also been an advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation, a personal consultant to David Rockefeller, and an active member with the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences as well as with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.