Julie E. Gelfand: 2015 Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award Recipient

Awards 2014

December 23, 2014

Associate Director/Stage Manager/Production Associate (AD/SM/PA) Council West Chair Julie E. Gelfand will become the 25th recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which will be presented at the DGA Awards ceremony next month. The Schaffner Award is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of their service to the industry and the Guild.

Asked why Gelfand was chosen to receive one of the Guild’s highest honors, former AD/SM/PA Council West Chair Valdez Flagg answered, “My experience of Julie Gelfand is one of respect and admiration so this year’s search for the Schaffner recipient was brief and unanimous. In my five-year tenure as the Council Chair, Julie was my constantly supportive Vice Chair, wise advisor and visionary. She came up through the ranks of television, which has given her a comprehensive wealth of information, history and insight, which along with her deep dedication are qualities that any guild, union or organization cherishes and needs. We at the Directors Guild of America have that and more in our 2015 Franklin Schaffner recipient Julie Gelfand.”

After launching her career as the assistant to the pageant director of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World Pageant, Gelfand discovered that she loved the excitement and energy surrounding live variety shows and quickly developed a specialization in the genre. While working as a Script Coordinator and Production Supervisor on some of the highest profile variety programs shows, including The American Music Awards, Academy Awards, Star Search, Motown 30, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and AFI Salutes to Jack Nicholson and Steven Spielberg, she finally realized which job she really wanted.

“I saw the Associate Directors sitting next to me in the booth and liked what they did,” Gelfand recalls. “It became my goal to move over into that chair.”

She finally got her opportunity in 1992 on the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon and was able to accrue enough days to join the Guild. Almost immediately after joining, she found herself getting involved.

“I attended my very first Western AD/SM/PA Council meeting about two months into my Guild membership. It was so interesting that I decided to come again the next month. They discovered they needed a PA Alternate and asked me if I wanted to serve. “I don’t think I said more than my name for maybe three years, but if you sit there and you listen, you start to learn the rules and how things work. And because I was one of the few variety people on the Council, other members working in variety would come to me if they had questions.”

Since 1993, Gelfand has served on the Council nearly continuously in various elected positions including Secretary/Treasurer, 2nd Vice Chair, 1st Vice Chair, and currently as Council Chair. She recalls how during her early days, she was mentored by the best. “People like Anita Cooper-Avrick, Scott Rindenow, and C J Rapp-Pittman were there to show me how the Guild operated. It was impressive every month showing up at Council meetings and seeing how they ran things.” In return she likes to share that knowledge with other members and advises them to “Come to meetings. There’s always something to learn. I’ve been coming for 20 years and there’s always something new. So come and find out who’s there so if you do have a problem you’ll know who to call.”

However, her service isn’t only reserved for her Council. She has served as a delegate to the DGA Biennial Conventions and on the DGA Negotiations Committee for the 2008, 2011, and 2014 negotiations cycles. “It’s fascinating to be involved in that process, see how the machine works and how our leadership leads. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for what Jay Roth, Gil Cates, Tommy Schlamme, and Michael Apted have accomplished. Their knowledge of what every member does is astounding. So is their grasp of the politics of the world out there and how it applies to us. I have such great respect for Jay that he can take all these issues and make it understandable for those of us who think in time code.”

Gelfand is also in the middle of her fourth consecutive term as a Second Alternate to the DGA National Board. “I loved being elected as a second alternate to the Board. I’m so proud that my name is on the DGA letterhead.”

Although dedicated to her Guild, Gelfand continues to be active in her profession. Since her beginning, on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, a program with which she continues to be involved every year, she has worked on numerous live, variety and reality shows including Dennis Miller Live, Oscars Red Carpet, Daytime Emmy Awards, Miss USA/Universe/Teen USA Pageants, American Idol, and the last 11 seasons on Big Brother. She was thrilled in 2014 when she worked as an Associate Director on Director Joel Gallen’s 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which earned a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports - Specials.

Despite all she’s learned over the years, she’s still not quite sure how to handle being presented with the Franklin J. Schaffner Award. “It’s going to take me awhile to get my head wrapped around this. I’m a ‘fly under the radar’ type, so this is very strange for me. I’m proud of all the work I’ve done for the Guild over the last 20 years, but I didn’t do it to get an award, I did it because it was interesting. I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement with the Guild. I feel like there’s still a lot more I’d like to accomplish.”

Past recipients of the DGA Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award
  • Vincent DeDario (2014)
  • Dency Nelson (2013)
  • Dennis W. Mazzocco (2012)
  • Maria Jimenez Henley (2010)
  • Scott Berger (2009)
  • Barbara J. Roche (2008)
  • Terry Benson (2007)
  • Donald E. Jacob (2006)
  • Stanley Faer (2005)
  • Peery Forbis (2004)
  • Esperanza “Candy” Martinez (2003)
  • Anita Cooper-Avrick (2002)
  • Robert N. Van Ry (2001)
  • Scott L. Rindenow (2000)
  • Robert Caminiti (1999)
  • C.J. Rapp-Pittman (1998)
  • Joseph L. Dicso (1997)
  • Don Lewis Barnhart (1996)
  • Larry Carl (1995)
  • James E. Wall (1994)
  • James “Woody” Woodworth (1993)
  • Marilyn Jacobs-Furey (1992)
  • Chester O’Brien (1991)
  • Mortimer O’Brien (1991)