STHS, UCLA graduate directing life toward career in filmmaking |

STHS, UCLA graduate directing life toward career in filmmaking

Nancy Oliver Hayden
Provided to the Tribune

Chris Smith, 22, is on his way to fulfilling his future goal of directing feature films.

A 2003 graduate of South Tahoe High School, Smith received a bachelor’s degree in theater acting from the University of California, Los Angeles, in December and now is a creative producer for Attention Span Media. The full-service creative and production studio is based in Los Angeles.

Smith is the son of Lisbeth Smith of South Lake Tahoe and the late Phil Smith, who died in a drowning accident in 2004. His brother, Nick, is a senior at South Tahoe High.

While living in Tahoe, Chris Smith was very active and involved with school and the community. At age 12, he started The Tahoe Jugglers, a juggling trio with his brother and a friend that toured the Tahoe Basin performing at local charities and events.

In 2002, he wrote, directed and performed in a variety fundraiser titled “Start the Commotion.” The show, which included juggling, skits, videos and music, raised more than $5,000 for Bailey Johnson, a young boy with neuroblastoma. For his senior project the following year, Smith wrote, produced, directed and acted in a feature film titled “Deja Vu.” The film’s premiere at South Tahoe High raised $10,000, which was split between Johnson and the STHS theater department.

In January 2004, Smith and STHS classmate Travis Cabral started filming “Shadow in the Trees,” a two-hour feature that premiered at Caesars Tahoe. Smith made the film in memory of his father, who died trying to save a young man from drowning.

“I recently signed with an agent who will be promoting ‘Shadow in the Trees’ internationally and at various independent film markets,” Smith said.

While at UCLA, Smith used his juggling talent to become “The UCLA Juggler,” which allowed him to perform internationally in Hong Kong and Beijing as well as at the men’s football and basketball games.

In his latest venture, Smith is one of seven creative minds behind the new Web show “Dorm Life,” which can be viewed on YouTube and at The 20 episodes, which each are about five minutes long, started in February. One new episode will be posted each week.

“Dorm Life” was conceived and created by Smith and six fellow UCLA students, who brought the idea to Attention Span Media. Smith co-wrote, co-directed, edited and acts in the series that follows the lives of 10 college students who reside on the same dorm floor at college. The mockumentary is full of mischief, adventures, rivalries and romance.

“The idea for the show developed when my friends and I were in a sketch-comedy group on campus and came up with the idea for a story on dorm life,” Smith said. “It was something fresh, new and fun, and we wrote a pilot for a mockumentary. The style is very free in comedy.”

“Dorm Life” also is a multiplatform project centered around the 20 episodes. Additional new content will be released each weekday, including Webcam vignettes and photo and video features.

The site, which mimics a corkboard in a college dorm, invites viewers to access items like sticky notes and thumb-tacked fliers. Visitors will be able to create a profile, meet and contact the characters, interact on discussion boards, experience new bands and music, and sign up for feed and e-mail updates.

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