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McIntosh graduate directs gritty reality Boston cops show

Eric Smith doesn’t know what he is going to do each year.

He could be dangling 2,000 feet above the arctic circle trying to stay warm, or at the Playboy Mansion with Hugh Hefner and his bunnies, or more recently strap on a bulletproof vest and tag along behind Boston police officers.

As strange as it sounds those events are typical for one of the top Hollywood cinematographers in the country. Smith has been associated with movies like “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “The War” with Kevin Costner, and “Red Corner” with Richard Geer.

Despite all his accolades Smith still attributes growing up in Peachtree City to shaping his successful career.

”I feel like growing up in Peachtree City gave me the confidence and ability to make it to the next level. I’ve lived all over the country and I still have a huge appreciation of where I came from,” said Smith.

Smith is the director of TNT’s new reality show series “Boston’s Finest,” produced by Donnie Wahlberg, which takes a different approach to the typical reality cop show by filming the personal lives and daily struggle of Boston police officers.

“I’m more pleased with this show than any other television show I’ve been involved with,” said Smith, who graduated from McIntosh High School in 1990. “You always have a vision of what you want the show to be like but this time the editors had the same vision I did.”

Smith has been the cinematographer for various other television shows such as “Ice Road Truckers,” “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels,” and “My Fair Wedding.” While on the set of “Boston’s Finest,” Smith was asked to become the director along with his current position of director of photography.

One thing that may separate Smith from other directors is his willingness to jump right in and get involved with something as inherently dangerous as filming police officers in action. When asked about the dangers of following on-duty officers, the danger was almost an afterthought.

“You get so involved in what you’re doing and constantly getting different angles, trying to see if objects are exposed properly, and giving it your own style, it’s almost like you’re not actually there. Like you’re watching TV but you’re actually controlling it,” said Smith.

Hard work and dedication led Smith to where he is at now. At the age of 16 the Peachtree City native knew he wanted to work in production and attended New York University in Manhattan, then began to work for a production company in Atlanta.

Smith still gives back to the community where he grew up and even set up a video production program at McIntosh, but his high school roots dwell much deeper than school.

Recently Smith married his high school crush, Gina Barbibri after reconnecting 20 years after graduation. The couple messaged each other back and forth via Facebook.

“It was crazy; we practically grew up together and she reached out to me and told me she had a crush on me, we both had a crush on one another and we finally managed to meet up,” Smith reminisced.

Because of a busy schedule and work load the couple decided to get married in Las Vegas due to the fact that Smith was still in the middle of production on “Boston’s Finest.”

Smith’s marriage is almost indicative of his lifestyle, unpredictable but yet with a sense of home wherever he goes.

Having a plethora of television experience under his belt, the 40-year-old television director still remains humble through his experiences.

“This industry breeds ego maniacs, but that’s not my upbringing. There is no room to think that you are better than anyone else,” Said Smith. “I have been so touched by the reaction of people I used to go to high school with and people spreading the word. I have a lot of pride coming from Peachtree City. It’s like being in your own protective bubble.”

“Boston’s Finest” airs on TNT Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. and is in its third episode.

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