Interview with Katsuhiko Okada (Prop Gang Boss, USA) from The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

By Paul Martin March 7th, 2012, in Official Interviews, The Matrix Reloaded

Archival interview with Katsuhiko Okada from the official Matrix website.

MATRIX: What is your background?

KATSUHIKO: I do a lot of things. I’ve built a lot of houses in the Bay area, over the last ten years I’ve worked on a lot of movies, and I do some modelmaking. I have worked on the first Scream movie and Flubber, with Robin Williams. I am actually a painter, but I do this as a job.

MATRIX: Which projects have you been involved with on THE MATRIX sequels here in Alameda?

KATSUHIKO: I was the local in charge of the Park set, and I built the drum set and barricade for the Zion Temple.

MATRIX: Talk a bit about the process you went through to build the drums.

KATSUHIKO: The Art Department went shopping way before I started because they had the drawings. If they found something that might work they got it, and we got a lot of extra things too, all different kinds of drums and things. When I got the drawings I sat down, looked at them, and put one piece here, looked at it, cut this, looked at it, thought maybe not, then brought in another piece. It was a matter of putting everything together, just putting the things in the right place. When they went shopping they got such a great variety of things it wasn’t hard, and I had a great drawing to work from.

When we were building we had good music on, so we got the feel of it and then we stood in front each drum and pretended we were the drummer. Then we could also see if visually something was missing, or if something didn’t fit, then we took it off or moved it. We’d just go back and forth, back and forth, until we thought each drum was right. Sometimes we’d just sit and look at a drum wait to see if something inspired us.

MATRIX: How difficult was it to match the drawing?

KATSUHIKO: Actually it wasn’t a case of matching, I didn’t want the drums to be something that was really perfect, I wanted them to be something funky, but functional. To make something funky is kind of hard, to make something perfect is not hard – my feeling of what they wanted was something in between. Ultimately it wasn’t that hard because I had good materials to work with; the buyers went all over the Bay area to find junk and things. They had a good picture and I think we all saw the same thing in what we wanted.

MATRIX: During the building, did you have much interaction with the Art Director, Mark Mansbridge?

KATSUHIKO: The Art Director came by now and then, but every time he came by we didn’t have much conversation because he always said it was great, and to keep on going. We didn’t have any problems, everybody was very helpful – I had good direction and good helpers. To build the instruments took about two months for three of us. I worked with Wim [Wim Van Thillo, Propmaker], Brad and Ron. We also had two great painters who did a marvelous job; they painted the drums exactly how I saw they should be, which helped them come out so great.

MATRIX: The materials that went into making the drums look very interesting.

KATSUHIKO: Most of these are made from duct pipes and some bending board, some conveyor belts from a factory and drum cans. There are also some latex, rubber and plastic things, and there’s some steel heavy machinery. One piece used to be a big cooking utensil with a pipe, so it’s very heavy, it probably weighs two or three hundred pounds. To make it look heavier we added PVC pipe and a bunch of sticks to it. Another one was a laundry drier, and we’ve used all different kinds of drums: five gallon, fifty-five gallon and twenty-five gallon.

MATRIX: How extensive was the work you did on the Park set?

KATSUHIKO: Building the Park set was not hard at all, because we just went by the blueprint, and everything is made exactly how the print said. There was no special visual interpretation required, but for the drums we had to interpret what people said and what the picture said, all that was taken into consideration. That’s probably the hardest part, because sometimes what you think something is can be totally different to what they want.

MATRIX: Of all the projects you’ve worked on, on this production, what was the most fun?

KATSUHIKO: Building the drum set. Everything we worked on on this movie was not one of this or two of that – we made a thousand of this and thousand of that. The drums were a very unique project on this show, because each drum has a character of its own, so it was very interesting.

MATRIX: Thanks Katsuhiko.

Interview by REDPILL

June 2001

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