A “Deep Dive” at AbelCine in Los Angeles

As part of KOAT’s original content series, I stopped into AbelCine in Los Angeles to have a look at their cinema sales and rental operation.  The always enthusiastic Andy Shipsides sat down for a talk about surviving in a service industry, and their possible future moves.

Christie projectors don’t come cheap, and I was pretty impressed that they offer their clients a calibrated viewing theatre, both for dailies and training purposes.  Abel has an idea about how things should be done, and if that means they have to design their own gear to meet that standard, then that’s what they do.  Hope you enjoy!

Baking With The Gaffer

My travels recently took me to San Francisco.  Who lives in San Francisco?  The World’s most famous internet Gaffer, Mr. Luke Seerveld!  Luke has his own Grip & Lighting truck in the bay area, and offers tips on gaffing on his Youtube channel, “Meet The Gaffer“.

It’s full of excellent videos and is building quite a following.  He told me that he was stopped multiple times at CineGear by people going “Hey!  You’re that lighting guy!  You know….from Youtube!”  Well deserved recognition.  What I like about Luke’s videos are he’s a working Gaffer/Grip, and he takes the time to walk viewers through actual real life scenarios and lighting set-ups on location, explaining why he and the DOP lit things the way they did, what sources they used, etc.  When he’s not doing that, he features skills tips on everything from useful knots to how to properly coil heavy cable.

I called Luke up and asked if he would like to do a bit of cross promotion.  He readily agreed.  Rather than focus on lighting, we decided to head off on a bit of a tangent and talk to Luke as he baked a pie!  It’s a fun way to get to know Luke better as we talk about baking, gripping/gaffing, and life in general.  It’s a longer laid back feature, I really enjoyed shooting it, and I hope you enjoy it too.

On a side note, I just wanted to thank Luke for his time and excellent attitude.  What a great guy.  When I contacted him he was just so laid back, he agreed pretty much instantly to doing something, and he also “got” the idea of doing something a little off the beaten path and was in sync with the concept of the video.  He invited me into his home, introduced me to his family, and fed me lunch and beer.  What a legend!  Please remember to subscribe to both our channels.  As Jimmy Kimmel says, it’s free.

Behind the scenes at Matthews Studio Equipment

Is there anyone in this business that hasn’t heard of or used Matthews grip gear?  Doubtful.  As part of our original content series, KOAT had a look behind the scenes at MSE’s Burbank manufacturing facility and got a hint of what they’re working on for the future.

Making original content is hard.  Maybe one in ten of your cold calls to people is met with any kind of positive response.  Generally it’s a PR brushoff and a form letter.  That’s why it was refreshing to meet Tyler Phillips from MSE Grip.  Tyler is 4th generation in the film business, and has huge enthusiasm about what his company makes and does.  He is a busy guy, but managed to carve out some time to show me around their 50,000 square foot facility.  Our interview was un-chaperoned by any “optics” managers: he said what he thinks and gave straightforward answers.  Refreshing.

The story delves briefly into the company’s history, but it’s worth noting that in a lot of ways, Matthews invented modern grip standards and equipment.  The company sent over a little boilerplate history:

Matthews was borne by Roy Isaia in 1968, working in his mother’s garage sewing scrims, flags and overheads for the studios. This was the first time the studios began to outsource what they were otherwise making themselves on the lot. As a matter of fact, Roy was working days in the Canvas room at Paramount and nights in his mother’s garage. In 1971 Ed Phillips left the studios and partnered up with Roy to begin the design of stands and hardware to supplement the textiles. This too was a first as the studios generally built their own grip and none of it was interchangeable, nor was there any standardization. Grip was all 1” in diameter and electric was all 1-1/8” – and this was intentional to cause total separation of the two disciplines, Grip and Lighting. Ed worked with the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE) for several years to develop the current standard for male and female mounts which are all now mostly interchangeable. As a side note even still today all receivers on Crab Dollies built in this country are 1” – that is a throwback to the early days. At about that time. In the early 1970’s Roy’s wife gave birth to their first child, a boy, whom they named Matthew…and hence the name of the company was born and incorporated as Matthews Studio Equipment, Inc. Together Roy and Ed continued to invent the first folding C-Stand, the first spring loaded C-stand, the Doorway Dolly, the Hi Hi Roller stand and pretty much the way most all stands fold today. The list of firsts is extensive and too much to lay out here and now. The company has been honored with two awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Roy sold his share of the company to Ed and another Matthews employee in the early 1980’s and Ed bought the entire company in 1998. Ed now enjoys a partner as well as a Father /Son relationship with Tyler and the rest is still history in the making.

The Good Sports of Las Vegas

So initially, I was going to lead off my NAB reports with little snippets of life on the Vegas Strip.  I figured it would be a quirky way to set my videos apart from all the others with a bit of fun.  But a Youtube commenter (and my view statistics) pointed out that people would show up for the video, but quickly switch away when it didn’t immediately go into the gear from NAB.

So, I changed my plan of attack for the last 2/3rds of the videos, and headed pretty much straight in.  But I had told these people that went out of their way to help a stranger that they would be on Youtube at some point.  I just went up to these people cold, told them I could not pay them anything, and they were cool enough to give it a go.  Some were fun, some were goofy, some were a little risqué and some were….well, downright disturbing.  But they were all good sports and deserve their 15 seconds of fame.  So, I present to you, the good sports of Las Vegas.

P.S.  And yes, the Flaming Mantis at the end scared the hell out of me 😳