Tom Read – Interview
MATRIX: What is your involvement with ‘The Matrix’?
TOM: I am one of the second assistant directors, together with Noni Roy. I mainly work with the cast.
MATRIX: What would that encompass?
TOM: I greet the cast in the morning, get them through make up and costume and then get them to the set. I am a bit like a shoe horn really, I ease people in and try and make their day as easy as possible on set.
MATRIX: It has been your job to make the cast comfortable, how comfortable have you been in that position? Have there been any interesting moments?
TOM: It is a bit of a challenge when you get a grumpy actor or someone who doesn’t really want to be doing what they are doing. You have to smooth them over and get them through the day. Sometimes you can’t do anything for them, they are so grumpy that you just have to push them in the right direction… try and stay out of their way.
MATRIX: Has there been a particularly difficult sequence?
TOM: The subway set, because it dragged on for so long and it was very intense for the actors as well. It was three and a half weeks of solid fighting, so by the end of it they were over it and really sore as well. Covered in bruises and stuff.
MATRIX: You have been on here from the beginning?
TOM: Yes I have been here since the middle of February (1997).
MATRIX: How did you get involved?
TOM: I started on the second unit, a position I got through someone I was working with previously, which is quite often how it happens.
MATRIX: Have you worked on other films here in Australia?
TOM: Yes, I have been working in the industry for ten years. I worked on ‘Thin Red Line’ before this project.
MATRIX: You are seeing ‘The Matrix’ from a unique position because you are dealing with the cast on your own. You are seeing their interaction with the directors and maybe even hearing some of the feed back from the actors as to how they are being handled.
TOM: You get a little bit of feed back from the actors, but generally not much. The relationship between the director and the actor is fairly sacred. I think that if anything the actors would feel as though either there wasn’t enough direction, or that there was too much.
MATRIX: In this case or in general?
TOM: In this case. For instance, someone like Laurence Fishburne is very talented and doesn’t need a lot of direction, whereas they have had other artists on set who need quite a bit of direction. I try and stay as neutral as I can and keep the artists informed, giving them the latest information of what is happening on set.
MATRIX: What is your typical day?
TOM: A typical day is 15 or 16 hours of running information through to the make up and costume departments and the cast, working through the shots and hoping to get through to the end.
MATRIX: And now that you are almost done how does it feel?
TOM: It feels good. I am certainly fatigued enough. It has been a very long and intense shoot, 24 weeks at this pace and these hours.
MATRIX: What is your take on ‘The Matrix’?
TOM: What a great idea, what a great story. I think it is going to be a good film. I had to read the script four times before I understood it.
MATRIX: Did it help to look at all the story boards?
TOM: Yes, and in pre production one of the art directors walked me around the construction warehouse, showing me the sets and the models they were building. Seeing all this really helped put it all together. I am proud that I worked on it.
MATRIX: Thanks Tom.
Interview by Spencer Lamm