Legend is a term we hear banded around in this industry over and over and, most of the time, it’s a point that is debated, questioned, open to interpretation and is often merely an opinion. However, there are those that are universally accepted by everyone and, when I learned this weekend about the passing of Ed Phillips the Co-Founder and President of Matthews Studio Equipment for over 46 years, I felt compelled to write this, to pay homage to a man who was, without any doubt at all, a legend of the film industry.
In order to truly give Ed the respect that he richly deserves, we have to look at the profound impact that he and the family at Matthews studio equipment have had. Look at where we were before they came along. Prior to Matthews, the major studios made all of their own grip equipment – there wasn’t a regular c stand or combo stand out there, no standard issue roller stands, scissor track, collapsible overhead frames, dollies etc. All things that Matthews have brought to the table that we now take for granted when we walk onto a set anywhere from LA right across the US, Europe and beyond.
Back in 1966, a young Ed saw this gap in the market when he was working as a grip on the likes of “Beau Geste” at Universal and other projects at MGM, Fox, CBS and Paramount. This was someone who built his way up in the industry, he learned what we needed because he needed it as a grip. Who better to notice that gap in the market and find a way to fill it? Therefore after starting his own company, WAYNCO, who built lighter weight grip equipment and lights, Ed joined Matthews with Roy Isaia. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Times were good. We were young, aggressive, full of ideas and having a lot of fun.” – Ed Phillips
Matthews: Innovators Of Studio Equipment
You all know how passionately I feel about pioneers – those who reach for the unreachable star, who dare to do the impossible, who breakdown walls to make their world better. Ed was one such person. When Matthews Studio Equipment were the foremost producer of grip equipment, the go-to name in the industry, they did not rest on their laurels, they searched for other technologies to push further into the void and make our industry better. This passion and foresight did not go unacknowledged with awards from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the huge array of tools that they invented and made available to us.
“We may be bigger than we were thirty five years ago. We may be supplying tools to different markets all over the world. But we are still of the mind that ‘hands on’ is still the best.” – Ed Phillips
He was so proud of the equipment that he and his team had created and so committed to making everything fun, it was not uncommon to visit Matthews and see a Game of Thrones throne made out of c stands or racing down a hill on a doorway dolly. Just look at the videos of him acting as tour guide around the Matthews Warehouse, the “Costco of Grip Equipment” as he called it! He loved to show what he and his team were cooking up and was very proud of his company.
Sitting in the reception of our office is the custom HV table made as a gift by Ed and Matthews. It’s an honor to have it here and it will always have pride of place as Ed will in our hearts. He is someone I consider family and in the same way, I know, Matthews Studio Equipment will continue to set new boundaries as the besgrip equipment manufacturer in the industry for years and years to come and they will forever be close to me.
That’s the greatest compliment that I can give: without Ed Phillips, I couldn’t do my job how I want to do it, I couldn’t enjoy myself on set as much as I do and I am a better filmmaker because of him and his team. This is echoed by many with the impact of Matthews Studio Equipment around the world – people who work in the film, tv and theatre industries of over 100 countries will do just like my team and I are doing in Atlanta today – opening c-stands, setting up a combo stand etc. From now on, I’ll always think of Ed when I do that and how grateful I will always be that he came into my life and chose my industry to revolutionize.
“As I reflect on my fifty years in this crazy industry, and especially my forty-six years with Matthews, I think about all of the many relationships: with crew people, our employees, and those who supported the company with creative ideas for new products, as well as the customers, studios, rental houses, and technicians who choose to do business with Matthews. I am very appreciative and extremely thankful.” – Ed Phillips
Ed Phillips – 1946-2019 – Legend.
As an expression of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful if you would honor his legacy by making a contribution in his name to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. He was deeply connected to Providence Saint Joseph’s as a member of their Board of Governors, actively campaigning on behalf of the hospital and the local community. Please direct contributions to Amy Montes at 501 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91505, firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-847-4674