At first glance, long-term members Kelly and Garrett Smith seem like most First Entertainment folks – they’re hardworking professionals in the film and television industry. But look again. One is gliding through the air, traversing the border of Mexico. The other is gliding underwater, filming a sea turtle in high definition. Now they’re skydiving. Now they’re providing voice talent from the jungles of Kauai. And now they’re …blowing glass into vibrant works of art?
We caught up with Kelly and Garrett upon their return from New York, where they had premiered a trailer they directed and edited for Postulate One’s documentary “Very Long Ride.” Postulate One consists of two young journalists who are bicycling 10,000 miles from Paris to Shanghai. Along the way, they’re meeting young world changing visionaries, and discovering what makes them tick. Kelly and Garrett are the creative force behind web profiles for their site, and a documentary of the journey.
Their adventure-seeking lives are colorful kaleidoscopes of work, play, and work that seems like play. With distinguished careers in film and TV, the two currently devote their energies to Ha Productions. “Ha Productions is a new chapter in our lives.” Kelly says. “Yeah, it’s a very exciting time,” Garrett continues. “The digital world is changing so rapidly that the time is ripe to explore emerging technologies with the experience of the past and the eyes of a child.”
“People ask why we call our company Ha Productions,” Kelly shared. “It’s mostly sentimental. ‘Ha’ is a Hawaiian word that means ‘the breath of life.’ We were married on Kauai, in the Hawaiian tradition, and exchanged ‘Ha’ instead of the traditional kiss. But there’s also a little bit of ‘ha, ha, ha’ in it too.”
Garrett is involved in many aspects of the emerging and rapidly changing digital landscape including Remote Collaboration, Workflow, Digital Display Technology, and 3D Capture and Conversion. Kelly, an Emmy-nominated guild editor, is expanding her palate into file-based editorial and is also immersing herself in 3D. “These days I carry my edit bay in my backpack,” she laughs.
Kelly started her career in radio as an editor and voice talent, moving into producing, writing and editing local TV commercials and infomercials. She eventually rose to Production Manager at Quantum Video in Santa Barbara. Next stop for her was editing and producing documentaries including working with Jean-Michel Cousteau where Kelly developed and produced SeaScope, an award-winning children’s series. That led to a gig as main story editor for Animal Planet’s Amazing Animal Videos. From there she went on to edit The Dr. Phil Show and The Doctors.
Garrett started as a classroom projectionist showing 16-millimeter films, before becoming a photographer for a college yearbook and a videographer for the local cable station. After college, he moved to Los Angeles. “I knew two people, had $100 in my pocket and a place to stay.” Academy Award-winning Linwood Dunn hired Garrett, and his career officially took off. It wound successfully through CBS Television, Columbia Pictures Television and New World Pictures. And then came the call that turned into a decades-long career at Paramount. “For 24 years, I worked with some of the greatest directors and cinematographers in the business, helping them to maintain their personal vision when creating electronic masters for Paramount.”
In his spare time, Garrett takes a break from hi-tech to pursue his passion for an ancient technology, glassblowing. A documentary about glass artist Dale Chihuly inspired Garrett to try this art form. He breathed life into his first creation in 2001. Now 11 years later, he’s a respected artist with his own distinct line of “Glass by Garrett” art glass. “After three decades of working with color and light in film and digital technology, glassblowing allows me to work with color and light in a completely different way.”
The Smiths enjoy a long, varied history with First Entertainment. “I was a member of Columbia Warner, before it became known as First Entertainment,” Garrett recalls. “That was the early 80s.” Kelly became a member in 2003. “Their Paramount Branch is in the Mae West building, home to The Dr. Phil Show where I was working. So it was very convenient and the people are fantastic! We now do the majority of our banking with First Entertainment. We have our personal checking & savings accounts there, a mortgage, a car loan and even our corporate account for Ha Productions. Colleagues insisted we wouldn’t be able to open a business account with a credit union, that we would be forced to go to a bank, but First Entertainment helped make it happen.” Kelly is also a major fan of online banking. “We travel a lot, so I rely on CU.online, their online banking option … it’s super-convenient. But sometimes you need to speak to a real person, someone you actually know, and I have that kind of access with First Entertainment too. It’s really a nice benefit.”
“It feels like – especially in these crazy financial times – that there’s a place where I can stop the motion,” Garrett says. “I can go to the credit union, have a discussion and make a good decision. It’s full service, with humans involved, and that’s probably why I’ve never thought of leaving. Because I’ve enjoyed that for 30 years, I call it ‘Comfort Banking,’ like comfort food.”
Thank you, Kelly and Garrett, for the “Ha” you bring to First Entertainment.