Spring 2018

Jerri Churchill

Maintaining the Tightrope Between Scariest and Funniest


"We have a coroner and grief counselor standing by," explained stage manager Jerri Churchill. "That's how I know this is real." Churchill, standing by to film Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda, the 2013 television special during which Wallenda completed high-wire walks between 50-plus-story skyscrapers in Chicago, knew immediately that she would remember this night.

As for her usual day-to-day as head stage manager for America's Funniest Home Videos, it involves coordinating rehearsals and the filming of two shows a day in front of a live audience. "My goal is to always be the most well-prepared person on the set, and to make sure everything moves quickly and smoothly with no baubles or hiccups," she says.

Churchill's preparedness allows her "to make the job of the host as easy as possible while filming," and served her well on that cold night in 2013 when her stage was the size of a tightrope.

Though working on Skyscraper Live is unforgettable even years later, Churchill loves working on AFHV. "My overall philosophy about my work is this," she says. "To be entertained is to be happy and to be happy is to be at peace. I like to think that when we contribute to a project that entertains people, that makes people laugh, we are contributing a little to world peace."

(Photo: Brian Davis)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

More from this issue
Check out the latest DGA Quarterly, featuring articles about the craft of directing feature films, documentaries, television content, standup specials and commercials. In addition, we explore of the theatrical experience in the cinematic age and discuss the net neutrality conundrum.