Cory Schmidt [RIGGING GRIP]


MATRIX: Outline your role in the production of THE MATRIX 2 & 3.

CORY: I’m with Local 16, San Francisco, California, working here for the Pre-rig Grip Department. Basically, that entails being a couple of steps ahead of the Grip Department and the shoot crew. What we do is go onto a set just a little ahead of First Unit, and get them set up so they have a bit of a head start when they begin shooting. On this particular film we’re doing a lot of actual rigging from the roof beams, and we’ve got a couple of new ideas for lighting we’re trying out, which entails chain motors suspending light boxes.

MATRIX: How long have you been on this shoot so far?

CORY: I started in the middle of March [2001], so it’s been a few months now, and we’ll be finishing up here in another four weeks [end of June, 2001], it looks like. The whole time we’re pretty much walking on the beams or riding in a lift.

MATRIX: On every film there are different types of Grips, could you give a rundown on the differences between them?

CORY: Camera Grips are a lot more in tune with what is going on with the actual film itself, they deal more with the shaping and the coloring of all the lighting. The Rigging Grips just basically get all that material ready ahead of them so they have what they need before they actually start shooting. The Key Grip is the boss of the Grip Department, so he pretty much delegates the different jobs to all the different grips on the crew. The size of the crew depends on the size of the show.

MATRIX: Right now, we are on the Zion Temple set, in your experience, is this a particularly large set?

CORY: This set, in particular, is quite large. It’s actually been kind of fun working in a cave. We’ve been in this room for about two weeks now, and it’s been getting closer and closer to completion. When we came in there was still a lot of raw styrofoam, which the set is basically made out of, so it has been kind of neat to see that transformation going on. And now that it’s pretty much done, it feels like we’re spelunking when we’re climbing around up in the beams. We actually have a rope set up for repelling, so it’s kind of fun, when we’re done climbing up in the beams, we come down the rope, and it feels like we’re spelunking.

MATRIX: How many Pre-rig Grips have been setting up this set?

CORY: In this cave there’s a core group of four of us working on it, and it fluctuates from day to day. Our crew size changes from day to day as well, but I think the base is 8 to 9 Pre-rig grips. There are four of us in here, and there are a few of us on another project for another shot they’re doing at the end of this week.

MATRIX: What has been the most challenging thing about this particular set?

CORY: It’s a structural thing. Basically, now that they’ve got the foam set in, we’ve had to do a lot of climbing to get to where we need to hang equipment. Up in the steel you can see there are diagonals [ceiling structures] and they’re quite steep, and this building is very dusty, so those diagonals are a little bit slippery. That’s probably been the most interesting and hairball thing about this project, but we’re definitely being safe about it. We’re clipped in the whole time, taking our time, and taking pretty regular breaks to keep ourselves fresh. Once we’re up there, we’re up there for a few minutes until we get everything all dialed in, so to speak. Once we’re done with this set, we’ll be taking down the Park set, and once they’re done filming over here, we’ll be taking this down, then that’s pretty much it for us, we’ll be going home.

MATRIX: Does your department always take down the equipment it sets up?

CORY: Yes. To take all our equipment down on the Park set is going to take us about a week to two weeks. We have built grids inside steel grids, and we have to bring them down at an angle, which is going to take a little bit of work. They’re pretty darn heavy right now, so we have to be careful of that, and there are a lot of building obstructions, such as sprinkler pipes and building lighting.

MATRIX: What other films have you worked on?

CORY: I’ve worked on basically all of Robin Williams’ films for the last few years, which includes Flubber, Bicentennial Man, and I worked on The Rock.

MATRIX: Do you have any ideas about where these sets tie into the first film?

CORY: They’ve been pretty tight lipped about the script, so I don’t really know much of the story line, although based on the first film, I have an idea what it might be like.

MATRIX: Thanks Cory.

Interview by REDPILL
June 2001