Interview with Chandler Wood (Production Assistant, USA) from The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions (2003)

By Paul Martin April 2nd, 2012, in Official Interviews, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions

Archival interview with Chandler Wood from the official Matrix website.

MATRIX: What have you been working on?

CHANDLER: I was hired to, literally, put together everybody’s books – the notebooks of storyboards and conceptual artwork – I put the images in plastic sleeves. I did that for six weeks in Venice and I came up to Alameda expecting to do it for the whole time, but I have not had to do it much at all as a matter of fact. Up here I run around, I make copies, I run to Kinko’s, that sort of thing.

MATRIX: Would you say there’s a lot of art on this production?

CHANDLER: There’s a lot of art… a lot of art. It’s been very interesting to see it all, sleeving book after book, hundreds of pages of spaceships and storyboards. It’s been really good to see and to hang out with artists to see how they work, and the process.

MATRIX: So you got to meet Steve Skroce [Storyboard Artist] and Geof Darrow [Concept Illustrator], and all the other artists down in Venice?

CHANDLER: Exactly. Marc Gabbana [Concept Consultant], George Hull [Concept Illustrator] and Grant [Niesner, 3D Creature Designer] up here doing computer work. The PLF [Pixel Liberation Front, Pre-visualization] guys too, just looking over their shoulders has been a big education.

MATRIX: How did you get this job with THE MATRIX sequels?

CHANDLER: I worked with the other PA [Darren Legallo] in the Art Department in Venice on my last job, and the coordinator here called me up and said they needed somebody to sleeve storyboards, so that’s how I got the job.

MATRIX: Was that job another movie?

CHANDLER: Yes, that was The Sixth Day, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2000. I worked on that with Darren and then I came down to Venice when they needed somebody else. It was a welcome relief from answering phones and so forth, just to be able to look at artwork. I was answering phones for that movie, and getting lunches, so it’s another rung up the ladder in this case.

MATRIX: Was that the first movie you had worked on?

CHANDLER: That was the first major Hollywood film that I worked on. THE MATRIX is light years beyond, which was really good because I want to do storyboards and I want to do conceptual art. I interviewed for a Production PA position but didn’t get that, a few weeks went by and then I got the Art Department job, which was exactly where I wanted to be.

MATRIX: At that time, did you know it was exactly where you wanted to be?

CHANDLER: In the sense that I knew what jobs I could get, and those were just the PA jobs. I knew I didn’t want to be in production doing production work in an office environment, as opposed to being able to walk around among artists, able to see their artwork. I applied for the Production Office job because I didn’t know there would be an Art Department position available, but then it came up.

MATRIX: Did you have the opportunity to work closely with Owen Paterson, the Production Designer?

CHANDLER: I did work fairly closely with Owen. It was a nice experience to see, not only how he worked, but to see how he worked with other people, and how the whole process of building a cave or freeway developed with the set designers, the conceptual artists and then the construction people; that was very interesting. As a matter of fact he had me do a drawing for the cave, which was extremely exciting. They needed something for the cave entrance, so he did a little doodle and had me frame it up. He took a photograph of the cave model and he drew some characters in the sketch I did of the photograph, then I just tightened it up for him. That was very, very exciting.

MATRIX: Did you get the chance to sleeve your own artwork?

CHANDLER: I did not get a chance to sleeve it, but I got a chance to see it on a plan for some I Beams. Then I got to see the Set Decorators and the prop guys poring over the thing, saying they need to build this and that, and this and that. That was pretty gratifying.

MATRIX: Do you think that is the direction you want to go in?

CHANDLER: I would rather do Storyboards than Conceptual Art, but I would take a stab at Conceptual Art also. The story telling aspect is what I’m interested in.

MATRIX: Is it of any interest to you that a good number of the artists here are celebrated comic book artists as well?

CHANDLER: It’s a big interest actually, because I come from a comic book background myself with my artwork. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I took my portfolio around to Storyboard agencies and they all said, “Too cartoony, not realistic enough”… then to actually see it’s essentially comic book frames these guys are producing! I don’t know how it works on all these other movies, but I assume other Producers and Art Directors are going to want to lean in that direction, at least for the next few years, until the style evolves somewhere else. The comic book aspect was a big part of it for sure.

MATRIX: Did you work with Hugh Bateup, the Art Director?

CHANDLER: Hugh was interesting to work for, he was a character. I didn’t work for him in the way I worked for Owen, he wasn’t that directly involved with what I was doing.

MATRIX: You were probably on a very American crew for the first film you worked on, THE MATRIX has a strong infusion of Australian blood in it; do you feel there’s a different sensibility?

CHANDLER: There’s certainly a difference. Hugh comes into the office everyday with his Hawaiian print shirt and often enough with his flip-flops on; there’s a different attitude I guess.

MATRIX: I understand you did the illustration for the VFX Department T-shirts.

CHANDLER: Right. Mika, one of the PAs in Visual Effects came to me and said, “I want you to do a Visual Effects logo for the chair backs for on set that will have a Sentinel grabbing onto the word VFX.” So I did that and it was pretty well received, but unfortunately it was decided not to put it on the T-shirt. Because I did that, a lot of people came to me for other T-shirt drawings. I don’t quite understand this fascination with all the T-shirts, all the swag people are so excited about in these last two weeks of shooting, but I was happy to do drawings for people and certainly to get my work out there a little bit more.

MATRIX: Which departments did you create designs for?

CHANDLER: I did the Grips’ T-shirt, and the techno crane people adapted that same drawing for their T-shirt. Then I did the Mocap [Motion Capture] T-shirt, and Tony the caterer’s T-shirt, which was another sentinel grabbing onto THE MATRIX logo; the Set Dressers used that also for theirs. I think that might be it. The Grips’ shirt was literally a skull and cross bones – I did the skull, and the bones are the Grip knuckles, the C stand knuckles. The Mocap T-shirt is the motion capture stage – the frame – with one of the actors in the T pose, which they sign on and off in at the end of the shot and the beginning of the shot. There’s a Sentinel ripping the frame and the stage apart as he comes into the stage, and he’s standing there in a T pose; they all liked that too.

MATRIX: What would you say was the most exciting day or event you were involved in with THE MATRIX sequels?

CHANDLER: There have been a few of those events. I think being given the chance to run around on the sets and to watch these sets being built, they just blew my mind, I’ve never seen anything like that. Also to have Hugh or Owen give me the responsibility of creating something for the production, or just literally gathering up a bunch of old equipment that was here at the naval base, which we had to ship to Australia to set dress the hovercraft fleet. That was great because Hugh said, “Just pick out whatever you think”, and he gave me a few samples to pick out what I thought would be appropriate to send to Australia.

MATRIX: We were told there was a room of derelict equipment somewhere on the lot.

CHANDLER: That’s exactly where everything was pulled from. It was all old dials and knobs, and old computers with punch cards, and very strange pieces of gauges that measure electricity and all sorts of things. Probably also radioactive stuff, like lead containers; it was pretty interesting up there in the dark for a few days. I think there were literally 80 gauges ranging from about 6 inches to about maybe 15 inches in diameter, beautiful old gauges used for measuring various things. My job was just to pull them all out, put them in a 40 foot crate, and send them all to Australia.

MATRIX: What kind of condition were they in?

CHANDLER: They were in pretty good condition. In fact, this being the naval air rework facility up here in Alameda, or at least that part of the building is I guess, most of them had a sticker on them that said ‘inactive’, or a sticker that said ‘calibrated active’, so I think a lot of them were in very good condition. We had to inventory what we chose and send them away.

MATRIX: Do you know of any special clearances that had to be gotten to get that equipment?

CHANDLER: That was interesting because there were so many numbers. There were twenty digit numbers on the stickers that said Naval Property, and I had to inventory every number and take a photograph of every device, then we sent that list to the City of Alameda because they owned everything. I wondered whether there was a big storage vat of papers which said where all this equipment was at some naval base in Maryland or something.

MATRIX: How many pieces did you end up sending?

CHANDLER: Four hundred and thirty some pieces maybe.

MATRIX: Are they unique enough that when you see hovercraft in the film, you’re going to go, ‘I know that dial’?

CHANDLER: Yes, probably, if they’re not shrouded in light and dressing and paint. Whoever worked on those pieces of equipment should recognize them, they’re pretty cool.

MATRIX: Is this job coming to the end of the run for you?

CHANDLER: This is coming to the end of the run, I have about three weeks left. I have to help wrap out the office here, then go down to Venice and help organize all the artwork, file that, and we have to scan all that in to get it in the database. Then I guess we ship all that off to Warner Bros. Now I hope to take the time I’m going to have off and work on my portfolio and with the connections I have made here too, and hopefully not have to PA next time.

MATRIX: Having seen all of the Storyboards and Conceptual Art, you are one of the few people in the world who has a visual inside scoop on what THE MATRIX sequels are going to be like; what do you think?

CHANDLER: I didn’t even want to read a script even if I could get hold of one, I didn’t want to ruin anything. All the boards I saw were only the action scenes, and as I would go through board after board, and I would see the same conceptual or the same storyboard time after time, I would start to pick out things that were clues as to where the story was leading, but some of them were totally confusing. It’s going to be a pretty intense movie with a lot of the scenes that have been storyboarded.

MATRIX: Outside right now Laurence Fishburne [Morpheus] is doing some blue screen shots, how does the filming you have seen look, in your estimation?

CHANDLER: I think it looks amazing. I have seen the boards for the freeway scene, where the twin phases in and out of the car or jumps between the cars, and I don’t how they’re going to do it – if they’re going to make him like a ghost, and have him fade in and out. He’s coming at the screen in the storyboard, and he was out there on a blue screen strung up with wires, coming at the screen, being hauled in on these ropes so it looks just like the storyboards. It’s really amazing how they translate that.

MATRIX: In short, are you looking forward to sitting down in a theatre and watching THE MATRIX 2 and 3?

CHANDLER: I’m very much looking forward to seeing THE MATRIX 2 and 3, especially 2 because I haven’t seen that much of three. I can’t wait to see it all put together.

MATRIX: Thanks Chandler.

Interview by REDPILL

June 2001

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