Michelle directed the romantic comedy/action short Beyond Belief, which is now in development as a full length feature film. She also directed an entertainment video for ‘tweens’ about physical and nutritional health, featuring the Harlem Globe Trotters and supervised by Bridget Bennett, nutritionist for the Oscar-nominated film Super Size Me.
Her theatrical directing career includes the one-woman show Toasted, which won San Francisco’s “Best of the Fringe” award. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Toasted…is brightly comic, painfully brave and, ultimately, terribly tragic…deftly staged by Michelle Cohen…well worth seeing.” She developed, directed and produced Dan Elish’s musical, Just Desserts, and the ballet, Tina’s Feeling at Fordham at Lincoln Center.
…for theatre, film, and television
“I have been performing on stage since the ripe old age of six. By the time I was 16, I had had more than my share of frustrating experiences as an actor with directors who made everyone’s lives miserable ‘for the sake of the play’. Fed up, I decided to see if it were possible to direct a great production without it being fraught with turmoil and drama (both of which I prefer on the stage, not behind it)…Guess what? It is.
Throughout high school and college I studied and directed (The Elephant Man, Feiffer’s People, The Actor’s Nightmare, to name a few) and honed my skills. While I was studying at BADA in London, I worked alongside Maria Aitken in a production of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, where to my surprise, she singled me out to assist her.
After college, I was handed the opportunities to direct everything from musicals, ballet, comedy shows, one person shows for the stage as well as comedy videos. My first experience on a film set was literally at the feet of the great Bill Irwin. He was filming a short called Water Ride, and they used billowing fabric to indicate the water beneath his boat. I had the proud honor of creating this illusion for him. I was completely hooked.
Now having branched into film directing, I find it is a quite satisfying fit given my eclectic background and sensibility. If I have learned anything from my research into Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, the work gets made through a commitment to excellence, intensity, laughter and a keen intention to enjoy the best experience one can possibly squeeze out of any situation. It is very much about a collective art and community of people coming together for a party – albeit a sacred one. Long may the billows wave…”