MATRIX: Describe what a Grip does on a daily basis.
DAVID: A Grip does many things, it varies too in different areas, like in Australia it’s a little different, although it’s pretty much the same here in Alameda as it is in LA. A Grip does rigging – rigs trusses up so the electricians can hang lights off of them – a Grip will put diffusion in front of lights to diffuse the light a little bit, and Grips work the dollies, lay dolly track, rig cameras to cars, helicopters, boats, etc. Pretty much always there are Rigging Grips who come in and hang trusses on a set. An electrician would put up a light and then a Grip will put up a piece of diffusion in front of it, making shadows where they don’t want the light to be. There might be two things right next to each other, one of the things should be lit and the other one shouldn’t be lit, so a Grip will put a flag up to block out the light, so it’s working with lights.
MATRIX: What sort of training have you had to become a Grip?
DAVID: I started working in corporate videos and just lied and said, “Yeah, I know how to do that”, and kind of learned as I went. I’m always learning, all the time; there’s so much to know. There’s so much equipment, and you have to know all your knots, you have to know how to hang things so your cable doesn’t break and it falls. Grips always have to come up with new ideas on how to do something.
MATRIX: Is there a part of your job you particularly enjoy?
DAVID: Just coming up with creative ways to do something. Usually you have to do it last minute too, you have to be really fast, and you have to be really safe about it. That’s another part of our job, keeping everything really safe, so nothing falls on anyone and no one trips on something.
MATRIX: What are some of the precautions you take to keep things safe?
DAVID: When we put something on a stand, we put sandbags on it so it doesn’t fall over. You have to know your knots really well so you don’t tie a crappy knot and something falls, so you make sure things are tied off really well and nothing’s going to fall over. Like, in here we have around 900 extras, and there are a lot of lights, if one falls it could take out ten people easily, so we have to be really careful.
MATRIX: How did you come to be working on THE MATRIX sequels?
DAVID: A lot of our work comes through the Union Hall. The Union Hall sends people out on different jobs, and I worked with the Key Grip [Tony Mazzucchi] before on another movie, so he called me to come work on this. Most of the people come out of the Union Hall, it’s a union job.
MATRIX: Were you a fan of THE MATRIX before you came on this gig?
DAVID: Yes I was, I liked the movie. Right before we started, I rented the movie again, and watched it so I kind of knew what was going on. It’s really great; I’m really excited to be working on it, it’s a lot of fun, it’s been a great job.
MATRIX: Do you have any idea where what you’re working in fits in to the next movie?
DAVID: No. We’re really busy, so it’s kind of hard to follow, and they’re not giving us scripts either. They don’t want us to give plot away or anything, which I can understand. Besides, I’d rather watch the movie and be excited by it, and be in suspense, than to know what’s going to happen. I know what’s going to happen in some of the parts, but I’d rather be a fan watching it.
MATRIX: Is this one of the bigger movies you’ve worked on?
DAVID: Yes, I’ve worked on a lot of big movies but this is probably the biggest one, I’d say. I’ve worked on Copycat, What Dreams May Come, A Smile Like Yours, Desperate Measures, Bandits (that’s not out yet, it’s coming out), 40 Days and 40 Nights, Bicentennial Man… there are a ton.
MATRIX: Was there anything different you had to do on the freeway, being such a huge set?
DAVID: We put a lot of equipment in stake beds and stake bed trucks to drive it on the freeway because it’s a mile and a half long, and to run for something, to go get it, they want it right then and there, otherwise you have everyone screaming at you. And we had a lot small trucks to carry our equipment around and things.
MATRIX: How were lights rigged out there?
DAVID: Lights were put up on stands out there: we have Mombo Combo stands and hi roller stands. Well, you don’t put lights on hi rollers, you put lights on super cranks, they’re a stand that you can crank up and crank the light up. Most of the light out there was just natural light, sunlight, and we also have a lot of reflectors that reflect the light. We have silver [reflectors], or bleached muslin we put up that reflects the sunlight off that onto the ‘talent’ or onto whatever needs to be lit, and the Grips did that.
MATRIX: Thanks David.
Interview by REDPILL