At the core of Jan’s work as a filmmaker and educator is understanding different cultures, diversity, and collaboration beyond borders. Film is a unique art form that can be the bridge between different languages, cultures, and human beings.
He has taught at and led institutions in Germany, France, the United States, and China. Currently, he is a professor of film directing and screenwriting at the Shanghai Theatre Academy College of Film.
From 2014 to 2018, he was the Dean of the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles, the leading graduate film school in the United States. He successfully led the AFI through its accreditation process by WASC. He also wrote the AFI concept of Learning by Doing, based on George Stevens Jr.’s original ideas.
From 2010 to 2014, he was the director of the Deutsche Film and Fernsehen Akademie Berlin(DFFB). During his tenure, the school added international exchange programs with La Fémis in Paris, Columbia University in New York, and CalArts in Los Angeles. The DFFB started joint programs with TAU (Tel Aviv University) and the London Film School. He and the student France Orsenne initiated the “Couchsurfing the Berlinale” Program, where DFFB students hosted film students from all over the world.
In 2012, Jan initiated SERIAL EYES, a program at the DFFB to train postgraduate students in writing for TV serials.
In 2001, he founded, together with Peter Sehr and Marc Nicolas, the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris, an international postgraduate program for young producers, distributors, and world sales agents. The Atelier is a joint venture between the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and La Fémis in Paris.
In 2005 and 2009, he taught as a visiting professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, at the Department of Arts, Film, and Visual Studies. Since 2010, he is a faculty member of the Harvard School of Extension.
He started teaching film directing at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in 1994 and was a distinguished guest professor at Dartmouth College in 2000 and 2008.