Grip Industry Mourns Death of Matthews Studio Equipment Co-Founder and President Ed Phillips

Burbank, CA-Film Industry pioneer and gentleman Ed Phillips, who helped kick start Matthews Studio Equipment in 1969 and presided as President for nearly 50 years, died unexpectedly Saturday, June 22. He was 72 years old.

Ed enjoyed an active career defining grip standards, developing revolutionary new products, and fostering life-long relationships. Ed began his film industry career on the backlot of Universal Studios, transitioning from drumming in the surf-rock band The Vulcanes to pulling cable and operating machines. He built Matthews Studio Equipment alongside original founder, Roy Isaia, before teaming up with Carlos DeMattos in 1974 to form Matthews Studio Equipment Group.
Ed was always passionate about innovation and standardizing the gear used on set. He started with the first folding-leg C-Stand, then the 5/8” baby pin, and the 1-1/8” junior pin. In the early 70s, he saw the need to unify lighting and rigging standards in Grip and Electric departments, creating the Combo Head and Combo Stand to serve both. Over the past five decades in partnership with inventors and other industry leaders, he shepherded Matthews through such innovations as the Cam Remote Head, the Tulip Crane, the Vator Cranking Stands, and the MAX Menace Arm.
In 1998, Ed purchased the manufacturing arm of Matthews out of the larger Group, continuing his efforts to improve the grip, lighting and camera support industry; and growing Matthews into the powerhouse it is today. As a result of Ed’s leadership, Matthews Studio Equipment was honored with two Presidential “E” Award for outstanding contributions in growing U.S. exports, strengthening the economy, and creating American jobs. His focus on product innovation led to three Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, as well as two Emmy awards.
“Ed, my Dad, dearly loved three things in life: his family, the grip industry, and the ocean,” said Tyler Phillips, President of MSE. “It’s going to be a quiet building without his laugh… I’ll pick up his mantle and tell his stories so we can honor him and fill this place with laughter once again.”
Never one to fully retire, Ed still reported to the office every week. With Tyler following in his footsteps continuing the family-owned and operated legacy of the company, Ed spent more time on his boat entertaining family and industry friends.
Ed leaves behind his beloved wife Norma; daughters Emily, Julie, and Jamie; and son Tyler. A memorial service for Ed will be held 5pm June 29, 2019 at Hollywood Forest Lawn Cemetery located at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, Ca 90068.
As an expression of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful if you would honor his legacy by making a contribution in his name to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. He was deeply connected to Providence Saint Joseph’s as a member of their Board of Governors, actively campaigning on behalf of the hospital and the local community. Please direct contributions to Amy Montes at 501 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91505, or 818-847-4674

Written by Jake Fruia

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