An interview with filmmaker and enterpriser Jennifer Clary by Nell Alk. Images #1 and #3 photographed by Marcel Indik. Image #4 photographed by Ashley H. Walker/Getty Images for GenArt.
Meet Jennifer Clary. As a filmmaker, she’s the “Jen” in JenKev Productions, for which she wrote, directed, and co-produced new psychological thriller/dark comedy hybrid The Silent Thief. As an entrepreneur, she’s a co-founder of L.A.-based Gobble Green, a thriving vegan foods delivery service. The other executive half of each project—and in life—is her husband, Kevin Haberer, who also edited Thief.
Clary and Haberer were recently in New York to screen their new film—featuring young stars Toby Hemingway, Scout Taylor Compton, Josh Pence, and Cody Longo alongside silver screen stalwarts Kurt Fuller and Frances Fisher—during the 17th annual GenArt Film Festival at SVA Theater. At the celebratory after-party, Clary, wearing an animal-absent Rebecca Minkoff frock, spoke with us about The Silent Thief, life on set, and Gobble Green’s humble beginnings.
What about The Silent Thief appeals to you most as a storyteller?
I was really compelled by the idea that all of my characters had the capacity for great good and great evil. I find that entirely fascinating about mankind in general. Everybody has these moments where they’re at their best, but they’re so far and few between and there’s all this cunning that goes into everyday existence. I think this film highlights that in such a surreal way.
Suspense films often have a challenge executing the third act in a way that intensifies the suspense yet also keeps things realistic. Is that something you were wary of?
Yes. But I don’t feel that The Silent Thief is a traditional thriller. I approached it more as a character study. Characters are inherently thrilling. I think that, rather than trying to play into the genre, I really focused more on the development of this young man finding a place where he could belong.
Speaking of difficulty belonging, is that sort of what got you started on Gobble Green?
I was in Fort Worth visiting my in-laws who didn’t have anything for me to eat and I was starving and we started talking about it. There were no 100% vegan certified delivery services. I thought, Oh my god, that’s crazy. And so I told my husband, Oh my god, we have to start this, like, tomorrow. And he said, That sounds like a lot of work. And I said, Well, we have to do it. So we started it the next day. At the beginning, Kevin and I did everything. Now we have 28 employees. It’s done very well and I’m very proud. I think we’ve made a difference and we contribute to a lot of animal sanctuaries that we care about.
When you met your husband, was he vegan, too?
I was vegetarian since I was three and my husband ate a more conventional diet. We had a bit of an issue because I wasn’t totally thrilled making out with someone who ate meat all the time. It just grossed me out. So, I kept encouraging him to go vegetarian. And, as he started reading the literature about it, he decided that for him personally, veganism was the more ethical thing to do. It was the right thing for him. So, I said, you know, let’s do it as a couple. And we just went all the way together.
That’s amazing. When was that?
Five years ago, I think.
Wait, I’m pretty sure I saw burgers and fishing in the film…
We had a fully vegan set. Gobble Green did the catering. I put into the film a lot of things about catch-and-release. There wasn’t any actual fishing; it was just a string. I would never fish—catch or release—but I felt my character would. That said, our turkey for Thanksgiving was made of seitan and all the burgers were vegan patties. Not one animal was injured in this movie at all. Period. It was a 100% vegan set. 100% animal-friendly. The dog was the most spoiled member of the team.
Was the dog vegan, too?
The dog was vegan on my set!
So, if anyone wanted to consume animal products, they had to sneak off the set?
My take on it was, as long as I’m producing a project and it’s my money, I’m not going to financially support the unethical treatment of animals. I was very lucky to have a cast and crew who were very supportive of that. Kurt Fuller is actually vegan. And Frances is also largely vegan. They’re both really into treating animals with respect. I was lucky. It was just a fluke that I had a wonderful team of people with me.
You live in L.A., but you’ve surely tried some of the amazing vegan food NYC has to offer. When you come here, where do you like to eat?
TeaNY is great. I love Blossom. Wild Ginger. There are a few that are a must-hit. It’s a really great city for vegans—although, on this trip, I haven’t had much time to eat.