Burbank, CA—Film industry pioneer Ed Phillips, who helped kick-start Matthews Studio Equipment in 1969, died unexpectedly on June 22, 2019. Phillips, 72, was also the president of MSE for nearly 50 years.
Phillips enjoyed an active career defining grip standards, developing revolutionary products and fostering lifelong relationships. He began his film industry career on the backlot of Universal Studios. There he transitioned from drumming in the surf-rock band The Vulcanes to pulling cable and operating machines.
Furthermore, Phillips built Matthews Studio Equipment alongside original founder Roy Isaia, before teaming up with Carlos DeMattos in 1974 to form Matthews Studio Equipment Group.
“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.”
Phillips 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-inch baby pin and the 1-1/8-inch junior pin. In the early 1970s, he saw the need to unify lighting and rigging standards in grip and electric departments. Consequently, he created the combo head and the combo stand to serve both.
Moreover, during 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, Phillips purchased the manufacturing arm of Matthews out of the larger group. He continued his efforts to improve the grip, lighting and camera support industry, as well as growing Matthews into what it is today.
As a result of Phillips’s leadership, MSE garnered two Presidential “E” Awards for outstanding contributions in growing U.S. exports; strengthening the economy; and creating American jobs. His focus on product innovation also led to three Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, as well as two Emmy awards.
Never one to fully retire, Phillips still reported to the office every week. However, with his son following in his footsteps and continuing the family-owned and operated legacy of the company, he spent more time on his boat entertaining family and industry friends.
Ed Phillips is survived by his wife, Norma; daughters Emily, Julie and Jamie; and his son, Tyler. A memorial service was held June 29, 2019 at Hollywood Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.
As an expression of sympathy, the family would be grateful if you would honor his legacy by making a contribution in his name to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Phillips was deeply connected to Providence Saint Joseph’s as a member of their board of governors; he actively campaigned 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.