by Mike Sharkey
In October, Jerry Smith will mark 40 years in the film and television industry. Along the way, he has formed other companies, merged with companies (and got a wife out of the deal, as well) and won several Daytime Emmys.
In the world of film and television, then, it would probably come as no surprise to find out Smith is arrogant, self-centered, left-wing — the typical Hollywood hotshot. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Smith, owner of PineRidge Film & Television on Alumni Way just off St. Johns Bluff, is good at what he does and proud of his companies’ accomplishments. But, he’s quick to make sure you are well-aware that every project, every TV ad, every TV show and every Daytime Emmy (six wins and 11 nominations) isn’t possible without a talented staff of producers, editors, sales reps and on-camera talent.
And, at 67 years old, Smith isn’t slowing down.
“I still drag film crews around the world by my teeth,” said Smith, who formed Jerry Smith Film & Television four decades ago and PineRidge in 1985 with is wife Cindy. “My work is so much fun.”
As Smith puts it, PineRidge makes TV programs for international broadcast. The company’s shows have been on Discovery Travel Channel, PBS and others. He’s also a talent coach and can take credit for turning “Amazing Race 2” winner Alex Boylan into a legitimate TV host. And, PineRidge is capable of handling every facet of a show.
“We write, produce, research, edit, score and provide animation,” said Smith, who’s originally from Kansas City, but came to Jacksonville via Milwaukee in 1983. “I came to Jacksonville to shoot ‘Coming Home’ for Ch. 4. The show required me to go all over — from South Georgia to St. Augustine. I said, ‘Wait, this whole place is a movie set. Why isn’t this Hollywood?’ I found out it was Hollywood at one time. I also met this beautiful blond girl. It really is a wonderful production location.”
Smith is proud of his company’s achievements. He’s also proud of the fact his company helps the local economy through direct jobs and subcontractors. However, it’s his work outside the office that may produce the most pride. Smith is very involved in Ready 4 Work, an ex-offender re-entry program designed to help offenders enter — and stay — in the local workforce.
“I am at Operation New Hope sharing my experience as a employer,” he said. “I have no credentials and I am not an ex-offender. But, I do hire people.”
Smith got into film and television because as a child he saw the world as a giant stage or big screen. A tree house wasn’t a fort, it was a castle. The neighborhood wasn’t where he grew up, it was a parallel universe.
“I am the luckiest guy in the world because I get to play make believe as a grown up. As a kid, I didn’t just pretend, I made things,” he said. “Everything was a production. I make a TV show everybody will watch. I can make a good show about your backyard. Maybe, there’s something buried there. It’s a matter of being insufferably curious about everything. Everything is why?”