There’s a photo of Rudy Jones from when he was 5 years old. He’s in New York on the set of the former Sandy Becker Show, staring at the cameras. He remembers looking up at the lenses and wondering what it would be like to direct.
The Moorestown resident has since answered that question. Since that childhood experience, Jones has worked steadily in film and television, with a diverse array of credits to his name. Today, he owns his own production company, named Jones Multimedia Inc., through which he regularly directs and produces commercials and infomercials.
Jones grew up on the West Side of Manhattan. His first acting gig was that appearance on the decades-long Becker show for children, and he immediately caught the acting bug. From then on, his supportive foster parents regularly took him to auditions, and Jones made the rounds on kids’ shows in New York.
He spent his adolescence auditioning for parts and acting. He attended public high school for a year, but subsequently transferred to Quintano’s School for Young Professionals, a performing arts school. His first friend was Tom Finn, who would go on to found the musical group The Left Banke.
Jones said practically everyone at Quintano’s spent their days auditioning and working in the film and music industries. Another performing arts school in New York at the time, Fiorello La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, was the basis for the movie “Fame.” Jones is working on a documentary about the school and the one-of-a-kind environment that Quintano’s cultivated.
“I can’t give away too much until I finalize everything… I’m trying to get all these people involved to do this,” he said. “Most people knew about the ‘Fame’ school. Less knew about Quintono’s.”
Upon graduating high school, Jones attended Columbia University, where he was an English major, but he left a few credits short of graduating. He then went to work at American Indian Community House, a nonprofit in New York that serves Native Americans. Jones, who is half Native American and half Chinese, helped counsel native youths on how to get a job and the interview process.
In 1975, he went on to work in the New York City Court system counseling people in the holding pens. He’d been steadily auditioning and acting during the day, and he was working in the courts at night. One evening, Jones met with a young man and learned he was incarcerated for stabbing his mother. In that moment, Jones decided it was time to get out of the court system.
His wife, whom he met at Columbia, is from Delran. When their Manhattan apartment was robbed for the second time, the pair decided it was time to get out of the city. They moved to Moorestown in 1980.
While they moved away from New York, Jones continued to return and audition. He began working on soaps, landing a recurring role on “One Life To Live” and spots on “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns.”
Acting on soaps earned Jones regular work and a steady source of income, but he decided that he wanted a new challenge and began pursuing film roles. His agent began booking him auditions for “bad guy” roles. In 1985, he played the role of Radio Smasher in “The Last Dragon,” a film that has since garnered a cult following.
It was while he was on film sets that he noticed the stunt guys always looked like they were having fun. So, he decided to add stunt man to his resume and began delving into that aspect of the film world. When he wasn’t acting, he was doing stunts. In 2003, he was a stunt driver on the set of “The Italian Job,” and he assisted the film’s West Coast stunt coordinator with all the driving scenes that took place around City Hall in Philadelphia.
Jones said he was lucky to work in the film industry during a time when it was easier to get close to directors to see what they were doing and learn from them. He was working on a commercial one day and talking to the director about his own interest in directing. So, thirty-eight years ago, he was inspired to create his production company.
Today, when he’s not acting, Jones produces national commercials and radio spots for IHeartMedia. He’s produced or directed more than 400 television and radio spots to date. In some ways, the pandemic has worked to Jones’ advantage. With many producers dropping out of productions during the last several months, he’s been afforded opportunities to step up and replace them. And he’s still working in film. Jones is currently employed in Philadelphia as the stunt coordinator on the set of the upcoming movie “Not for Nothing,” a crime drama set in South Philly.
While he’s not sure what’s next given COVID, Jones is excited about the projects he has in the works.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
To view Jones’ full list of film credits, visit his Internet Movie Database page at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0429190/.