Matthews: Made in America
- September 2, 2018
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Matthews brand is a celebrated name in the film industry for a reason. It’s tough and it’s damn reliable. And with Matthew’s recent expansion of its facility here in Los Angeles, it’s even bigger and better! What’s it take to have a name synonymous with grip equipment in the industry? It takes lots and lots of space, and a facility that’s all the rage. Let’s explore a little more Matthews, USA!
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It first began in 1968 with Roy Isaia sewing scrims and flags by night in his mother’s garage. This is when the industry went from building and constructing their equipment on the lot to outsourcing to vendors. This is one of those American dream stories where he started small but created something MASSIVE.
It was in 1971 Ed Phillips joined the venture and that’s when things really changed. They started building their own stands to fit their textiles. It was Ed who worked with the Society of Motion Pictures to standardize male and female mounts that are now almost interchangeable.
In the 70s, Roy and his wife had a son, named him Matthew, and had one heck of an idea! That idea resulted in naming the company Matthews Studio Equipment, and now forever we will be using his name.
There’s a TON of firsts for the company. You can thank the company for folding c-stands, springloaded c-stands, the doorway dolly, the Hi Hi roller stand, and the standard way pretty much every stand has adopted today. That’s A LOT of innovation! Wow.
Now, we’ve been relying on Matthew’s for grip and electric equipment for years, and it’s been exciting to see the company evolve into what it is today! Some of our other articles that have featured some of the unique qualities and equipment of Matthews are C-Stand Basics and
Something that really resonates with me is how Matthews will apply technical changes and even create new equipment based off of ideas of industry professionals. What’s really great about that is it means Matthews is constantly trying to redefine the industry and make it even better.
THE DUTTI DOLLY
The Dutti Dolly was the conception of industry veteran James Saldutti, something he imagined, taking it to Matthews. As they say, the rest is history! Now, it’s one of the most sought after dollies in the industry. At two inches off the ground, it glides with smooth precision. It’s a 20×24 inch aluminum plate, and has eight skate wheels and can hold up to 800 pounds! There’s been many of times when I’ve applied this bad boy to my arsenal, and it’s never disappointed.
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So, now you know the Dutti dolly is named for James SalDUTTI. Let this be an inspiration to always incorporate your ideas while working on set. You want to have that mindset that’s always thinking, ‘How can I do this better?’ The industry is always evolving. When I’m on set, I’m constantly checking how can I make this or that better? It’s no secret, I’ve always been a DIY guy because I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. If I need something to work a certain way, or need to make a modification, I bust out the power tools!
Check out what I think about the Dutti dolly at Gear Review: Matthews Dutti Dolly.
But that’s just it, Matthews is integrated within the industry. Rather than someone like me relying on DIY endeavors, they’re helping to develop ideas and push them throughout the industry. It’s that personal support they offer and their ability to produce that’s truly exciting. I can’t wait to see what other ideas they have up their sleeves!
MAX MENACE ARM
Another of Matthews industry-born ideas that’s been manufactured is the Max Menace Arm. Hollywood Key Grip Richard Mall drew up the idea for this kick-ass achievement, and ever since it’s been used all over the world! Not only is this a great tool but it won for Technical Achievement Award at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.
When the Kerrikart was revealed at NAB 2015, I was in shock. This unique cart has all the makeups of a traditional cart, but also allows you to add a slider, which beautifully combines two features into one product. The Kerrikart was the brainchild for Montreal-based Director of Photography Bill Kerrigan.
The Kerrikart is simple and it requires less gear, and so I was naturally intrigued by such a product when it first hit the market. It’s tough and durable but it’s also very light weight. You can also build and break this sucker down in less than five minutes. It’s also a cakewalk in rough terrain and outside environment because of its pneumatic tires. It’s both maneuverable and reliable.
When Kerrigan brought the idea to Matthews, they were more than happy to make this idea a reality. Robert Kulesh, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Matthews says it plain and clear in an interview with The Guild of Television Cameramen, “When Bill brought us his cart design, we were excited to become involved with the new product.”
It’s really been amazing watching Matthews grow over the years. As the company continues to develop it will be interesting to see how Matthews elevates the ideas of the industry as it takes on newer ideas and works them into this ever thriving community of artists, gearheads, and visionaries.
For more on Matthews and their always evolving story, be sure to check out their YouTube page. They have a ton of really cool and insightful videos that delves further into the Dutti dolly, Infinity Arm, Vrig, and so much more!