Saturday, Sep 22, 2018
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Casey Smith (1989-2018)

First camera sparked an interest in filmmaking


Casey Smith, a promising young filmmaker, died on June 21 at his family’s home in Toledo. He had turned 29 a day earlier.

He died after fighting bone cancer for a year and a half, his mother, Sarah Smith, said.




Mr. Smith was born June 20, 1989, the only child of Sarah Smith and Kathleen LaFountain.

When he was young, an aunt gave him his first camera, sparking a love of photography.

“My father built a dark room in his house and did a lot of his own photography, so it’s kind of a family thing,” Ms. Smith said.

A lifelong Toledo resident, Mr. Smith attended West Side Montessori, then Maumee Valley Country Day School for high school.

He met Jonathan Kimble his freshman year. Mr. Kimble didn’t think much of him until sophomore year.

Mr. Kimble, who had been interested in filmmaking from a young age, said he was blown away by a video project Mr. Smith made for class.

“He did this very interesting experimental film that no one understood,” Mr. Kimble recalled. “But I knew what he was going for and felt like the only person who was smiling ear to ear the whole time.”

They started working together on films as Mr. Smith’s passion evolved from still to moving images.

Judson Beckwith, another high school friend, said the three made many movies together.

“We did film projects for basically everything we could if we could convince the teacher,” he said.

Mr. Kimble and Mr. Smith studied film at Savannah College of Art and Design. They lived together for all four years and often worked together too.

“He would drive people crazy because he’d put off projects until the last second, shoot, and have one of the best — if not the best— looking project in class,” Mr. Kimble said.

Part of Mr. Smith’s brilliance, he said, was his self-taught, fundamental understanding of lights and cameras. He knew how to work with whatever he had.

That skill came in handy after Mr. Smith and Mr. Kimble graduated in 2011.

After school, they both worked on the same project. Bob Mahaffey, president of Xcelerate Media in Dublin, Ohio, had what Mr. Kimble called “this insane bucket-list idea” to make an independent film about Gibsonburg High School’s 2005 baseball team and enlisted their help.

Mr. Smith was the film’s cinematographer and one of its editors, along with Mr. Kimble.

After Gibsonburg, Mr. Smith and Mr. Kimble collaborated in Columbus and then Toledo. Their last project together was a music video for Columbus band Half an Orange’s song “Old Friends.”

Mr. Beckwith, who also worked on their later projects, said it could be tough to work with Mr. Smith.

“He knew exactly what he wanted and would make you go over and over,” he said. “At the time it seemed like too much but what he filmed was beautiful.”

Surviving are his parents Sarah Smith and Kathleen LaFountain.

There will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. July 21 at Maumee Valley Country Day School.

Contact Eve Sneider at or 419-724-6171.

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