Off-Broadway Director Jennifer Gelfer Helms Web Series IN BETWEEN MEN; Screening Set for Today in NYC
Jennifer Gelfer is highly in-demand in New York, London and LA as a director, and is also the private coach to many of the globe's finest actors. So why does she choose to direct unknown talent Off-Broadway and serve as the Co-Executive Producer and Director on the hit web series "In Between Men?"
Because she loves discovering and encouraging the next stars.
"One of the perks about directing Off-Broadway and teaching actors is finding talent that has not been discovered," she says. "And one of the perks of directing for the web is giving those actors the opportunity to work in film. As both an actor and director, I know how hard it is to get your proverbial foot in the door."
As such, Jennifer appreciates the huge value of having an acting mentor take you under their wing, as she was by the legendary director and acting coach Milton Katselas, whose students included such stellar names as George Clooney, Alec Baldwin and Kate Hudson. Katselas not only helped Jennifer become a better actor, but encouraged her to direct and to teach, where she discovered abilities that she never knew she had - a new calling. She would further her education studying with another teaching legend, Sandy Meisner, and in the revered scene study class of Jeffrey Tambor from "Arrested Development." She has gone on to teach at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and at the Royal Theatre Haymarket in London's West End, where now along with some of England's most finest actors and directors, Jennifer is an Associate Member. "The only American that honor has been bestowed upon," Jennifer notes with pride.
Jennifer is now a much-vaunted leader in her field, appearing as an expert on programs such as the BBC documentary "What I'd Really Like To Do," where she taught one of her masterclasses, yet she remains ever curious to learn more. "I believe that an actor should always be studying," says Jennifer. "There is always more to learn about expressing the human experience, no matter where you are in your career and journey. My teacher Milton Katselas was living proof of that. Although he had directed countless productions on Broadway and many motion pictures, Milton was constantly studying the art of acting and directing, which he instilled in me."
While she has gone on to win acclaim for her directing Off-Broadway - productions she has worked on have won awards including Best Production at the Midtown InterNational Theatre Festival and an LA Drama Critics Circle award, and theNew York Times hailed her "theatrical savvy" in her direction of Michelle Clunie's Us - her first time directing Off-Broadway had its good and bad moments: "My first official Off-Broadway play as a director was an original work written by the actress who would be starring in the play. This lent to a tremendous amount of collaboration, especially in the writing. Note to directors: Never direct the writer of their own play! I love directing theatre though and welcome the opportunity to return to both Broadway's, on and off."
With her theatre directing experience and her many TV acting credits including "Sex and The City", "The West Wing," and NBC's "The Doctors," making the move to directing for the screen would seem a natural fit, yet Jennifer wasn't sure when the opportunity came to her to direct the web series "In Between Men," which examines the lives of four young men and one woman from different walks of life and of differing sexualities, who do not fit into the lives and perceptions expected of them in New York City. The web series became a major hit in its first season with over 2 million viewers and is watched in 150 countries, and has just completed its second season.
"My first love has always been the theatre," Jennifer notes. "First as an actress and then a director. I always had a back-off on directing film. I had not gone to film school and was concerned with that Being a limitation. To my surprise and great joy I found that not to be the case. The solution is to hire a great DP who you can collaborate with. Two seasons and fifteen episodes later, I feel like I have been through film school!"