Ed Phillips, who co-founded Matthews Studio Equipment in Burbank in 1969 and served as president for almost 50 years, has passed away. He was 72 years old.
Phillips, who pioneered the mass production of film and television tools around the world, died “unexpectedly” on June 22, according to a statement from MSE. His son, company president Tyler Phillips, paid tribute to the industry legend.
“Ed, my dad, loved three things in life: his family, the grip industry and the ocean. It will be a quiet building without his laughter. I’m going to take his coat and tell his stories so we can honor him and make this place laugh all over again, ”Phillips said in his own statement.
His father helped launch MSE after pulling cables and operating machines on the grounds of Universal Studios. Back then, Hollywood studios were making their own gripping equipment to meet the needs of their film sets.
Phillips and Roy Isaia therefore teamed up to launch MSE, before joining forces with Carlos DeMattos in 1974 to form the larger group Matthews Studio Equipment.
“When I first joined the company, it was like a little clubhouse,” Phillips recalled in a 2016 article in Working cameraman. “Legendary handles were lying around the workshop discussing the different projects they were working on and the tools they needed to get the job done,” he added.
Phillips and MSE developed and mass produced the C-stand, a gripping bracket for lighting equipment, which is now used on film and television sets around the world.
In addition to providing production equipment, MSE helped unify lighting and rigging standards in the gripping and electrical departments to end industry confusion. MSE has also developed key industry innovations, such as the remote cam head, tulip crane that folds down for compact transport, Vator crank brackets and the Max threat arm.
Phillips is survived by his wife, Norma; daughters Emily, Julie and Jamie; and his son Tyler. A memorial service was held on June 29 at the Hollywood Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.