MATRIX: What is your role here in Alameda on THE MATRIX sequels?
DAVE: I’m running security here for United Gateway Security. We have about 6 or 7 posted security personnel, and then we have a couple of guards who do what we call roving: they mingle within the crowd and watch and keep an eye out for different people to see if they’re suspicious. They watch how they act and how they interact with the crew, then they approach them and ask to see their ID badges.
MATRIX: What kind of training have the guards had to recognize a suspicious looking person?
DAVE: Anything to do with motion pictures is a little different than other types of security work, you get a feel for it real fast, you get to notice real quick. Everyone on the crew has to wear a blue badge, a green badge or one of the Burly Man badges, and if they don’t have one of these badges, they get a hard time from us until we find out who they are and why they’re there. There really is no particular training other than experience: knowing how to approach people and how to watch them to find out if they’re supposed to be there or not.
MATRIX: This is a huge lot, they’re doing explosions out by the harbor, with line-of-sight to the freeway set and the production office, and this is also a public roadway people can drive through; how does security control such a huge area?
DAVE: This is a little different than most movie sets. Movie sets filmed in most areas are on a closed set where the public has no access at all, other than through one main gate, and then they have posted security everywhere inside those gates. This is more of an ‘on the site’ type of lot – we have one building which is all fenced in but, like you said, we have all kinds of buildings, and they move around filming in different areas. A lot of that is radio talk; the guards are in communication with radios. If we see a suspicious vehicle, or a person acting funny or taking pictures anywhere on our perimeter – which is a permanent site where the movie has authorization and a permit to be – then we have authorization to kick them off that site. Quite often they will refuse to leave, or they’ll give us a hard time, and we just have to call the police and have them either escorted off or arrested.
MATRIX: Have there been many instances like that?
DAVE: There have been a few. Just yesterday there was an instance where our guards were communicating on the radio for about half an hour, following a guy in a brown car around. One of our guys spotted the car parked in front of the building, and when he was approached he ran into the set and throughout the building. He ran into the extra holding tent, which had about 300 or 400 people inside, and he tried to mingle in the crowd there. He ended up getting spotted, our security guards surrounded him, as well as the Alameda Police Department and the Locations Department – a combination of about 7 or 8 people surrounded him, and he was arrested. It turned out that he had already been asked two times not to be in the area, and he was on parole, so he got in a little bit of trouble.
MATRIX: Why do you think people have such a desire to get onto a set?
DAVE: Personally, I think they’re fascinated with the whole show, it’s quite impressive to watch, even for myself, and I’ve been doing it for a little while. It’s just crazy to see the equipment, the costumes, the amount of activity, the trucks, the gear, and the stars that are on the show. One thing about this type of work is people watch, they watch for a long time, and then they’ll try to get in. They’ll watch for a while because they know it’s a secure site, and then they’ll try to find the ways to get in.
MATRIX: Is security here to protect people like actors as well as the site?
DAVE: No, our security company doesn’t. The main actors have their own personal body guards, some of them you’ll recognize, some of them you don’t know it’s them. Because I’ve been on the show for so long, I know who is there and who is not. You’ll see some body guards standing right next to the actors and you’ll see some mingling in, and you won’t know who they are until afterwards. If you do something wrong they’ll be right there. It’s impressive to see the amount of security there that you don’t see in the uniformed guard, but it is there. If you went down to the set and tried to approach one of the principal actors, you’d quickly get stopped.
MATRIX: How many films have you worked on doing security?
DAVE: Just a couple. We ran the television show Nash Bridges for many seasons, but the company I work for has done numerous movies up here in the Bay area. I myself have only worked on a few movies, and they were smaller movies, this is the biggest movie I’ve ever worked on. To answer your question, probably about three: one was called Little City, A Smile Like Yours, and then the Nash Bridges show.
MATRIX: Have you been in security for a while?
DAVE: Yes, a little bit back home; I’m from Boston. It’s just my nature, from my experience back home I’ve got an itch for it I think.
MATRIX: Why have you chosen to go into film security?
DAVE: It’s a very interesting job, you can see an awful lot you can’t see covering a shopping mall or a movie theatre or a parking garage; the movie industry is a whole different kind of security. You really have to keep an eye out for people who make an effort to try and blend in and mingle in, they want to get there, they want to get on set.
MATRIX: Is one of the key differences between film and other security that people are trying to get information, rather than create a disturbance?
DAVE: Yes, there’s more of a desire, I think, to see; curiosity is a lot bigger. Most of the people we catch out here are not trying to steal stuff, they’re here just to be nosey, trespass and maybe get an autograph or some pictures. Pictures are the biggest thing, and as you know, this show is really strict on pictures.
MATRIX: Filming has been on three different sets here in Alameda, which was one of the most exciting days for you?
DAVE: Honestly, I think the best thing was the freeway set. They built a huge freeway that was about 2 miles long, and had all kinds of people; a couple of hundred people drove all day up and down this freeway. They smashed up cars, numerous explosions and numerous spin outs; the size of the equipment they use is just amazing on this one show.
Nash Bridges used to do a lot of that, but this is just incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it. And then, Building 5A, with the big blue screen, just to watch the martial arts, the fighting, the actors on the cables and the stunts, was quite impressive. That was another site that was on the main street, and we had numerous people parking their cars, walking across the street and trying to get on the set. One guy actually tried to approach Laurence [Fishburne, Morpheus] himself, that’s when his bodyguard stepped in, then we were called and he got escorted off.
The freeway set was probably the most exciting to watch with the chases, the speed.
MATRIX: Last week you had 950 extras on set, what were the new challenges that number of people presented?
DAVE: That was massive. Everybody on most shows think they have access to everything — and it just can’t be like that. Extras, and even people with badges, are limited to where they can go, but it’s really hard to tell people that. You have people dressed in costume, and they feel they have the right to go anywhere and everywhere on the show. There were so many people that we pretty much had to fence them in, we had to keep them in one area. It was difficult to do, everybody wants to be their own person, everybody wants to do their own thing. We put on extra security guards, which helped, but it was very difficult to have them all park, go through the line, get wardrobe, get fitted, keep the security of all their gear, have them get transport up to the site, and then to hang there until they had to go onto set.
MATRIX: Have you had the chance to meet the Directors, Larry and Andy Wachowski?
DAVE: The Directors don’t wear badges and they don’t look like typical directors. Our security guards have stopped them at least five or six times, that I know of; they’ve been stopped going to breakfast, going to lunch, driving in or out of the set in their cars. All they do is say their names, and all we can do is say, “You weren’t who I expected you to be.” But then we’re doing our job, both of the brothers have said that they understand we’re doing our job. It’s kind of funny. They’re very nice people, they’ve said thank you to all of us and they’ve made it a point to be very kind.
MATRIX: Were you a fan of the first film?
DAVE: Yeah, but you know, I don’t quite understand it all, I’m going to have to watch the movie a couple more times. People tell me the more you watch it, the more you’re going to understand it. I’m going to have to watch it again before it comes out, just so I can get a much better idea of what I’m seeing now. What I’m seeing now is very impressive.
MATRIX: Having seen the first film, are you able to see how what happens here fits into the second film?
DAVE: A little bit. I can’t piece it all together, what they’re doing now, but there are some scenes I’ve already seen and I’m like, okay, that’s making up for what I saw in the first movie. I’m still amazed at the size of this movie, I’m still amazed at everything I see, and I’ve been able to go pretty much on each set. The work and the skill it takes to take these cars apart and put them back together as fast and as quick as they do is just incredible.
MATRIX: Do you think fans will be happy with what they’ll see in THE MATRIX 2?
DAVE: From what I see, absolutely. It is definitely a very well thought out movie. I’m very impressed with what I have seen.
MATRIX: Thanks Dave.
Interview by REDPILL