Scott Martin has been a film industry professional working in grip departments for almost ten years.
Over the years, he’s used his expertise to help fellow filmmakers achieve the lighting and camera set ups needed to realize their projects — including major motion pictures like Aloft starring Jennifer Connelly. He got into the industry partially through an internship facilitated by us here at Film Training Manitoba. Scott proves that if you put in the work, you can achieve a successful career in the Manitoba film industry.
Learn about his journey to becoming a film professional, including how to take advice from seasoned pros, how to look for new ways to learn, and how to make your future self proud!
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
I started in the media production industry in 2012, after having moved to Winnipeg for the purpose of working in the industry. I attended Confederation College in Thunder Bay for Film Production, and really enjoyed that experience and wanted to follow through and work on set.
After graduating, I spent some time moving around Canada and eventually settled on Winnipeg for a variety of reasons. Following my move to Winnipeg, I went to both FTM and IATSE 856 and signed up and did everything I could do to get myself on set.
I started doing day calls for both the Grip department and the Sets department. I was offered an FTM internship spot with a Grip crew for the movie Aloft (it was called Cry/Fly at the time) and then stayed within the Grip department after really enjoying that.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I currently work in the Grip department as a Key Grip.
I really enjoy the role the grip department fills on set. We assist in lighting by helping to shape or diffuse light, and creating shadows and stopping light altogether.
We also help with camera movement and positioning. Grips help with rigging and building large lighting setups, we sometimes assist with special effects, or sets, or really anyone that needs a helping hand.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started
The biggest changes I have seen overall would be in regards to safety and bullying/harassment. Crew safety is playing a bigger and bigger role with every production.
Everything big or small now gets looked at from a safety perspective, and we often start our days with safety meetings and point out what is new that day and what to be aware of. And with bullying and harassment, the corporate culture has seen a shift lately, largely pushed by the MeToo movement.
If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
I would tell myself to look out for the “future” me. Whatever decisions or choices made by your current self, be sure they will make your future self proud, so that future self may look back and say “Right on past self, we’re awesome!”
What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
I would tell people who are new to listen to every single bit of advice they receive, then cherry pick the one’s that work for them.
When you first start out many people try to give you a “Golden Nugget” of wisdom, and a lot of these are very good pieces of advice, but you must also carve your own path. Listen to everything, take it all in, and use what works best for you.
Why is learning and training important?
Learning and training are very important to keep our minds fresh.
It’s very easy to become complacent in the things you know, but that will only leave you as the person who is really good at that one thing.
Learning and training will keep you thinking of new solutions to all kinds of problems, and will help you become a better collaborator, which is an important part of working on set.
What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into?
I am actually not that great at watching TV shows or movies. I love working in the industry, but sitting down to passively watch something I find to be difficult at times.
I have been watching the show BattleBots. I really enjoy the crazy ideas of engineering and design people come up with in order to cause massive destruction, and sustain massive destruction.
I have also been practicing meditation lately with some books by Lodro Rinzler, and just last year I started learning to play the piano, and I’m taking a music theory course.
Is there someone within the film industry you would like to work with and why?
I think I would like to work on a Christopher Nolan set. I have always been impressed and amazed at the massive feats of cinema he has designed.
I particularly enjoyed the spinning hotel hallway set that was built for Inception, and the amount of design and engineering and building that went into creating that set, and filming that scene.
At the same time, I really enjoy working on smaller shows with big ideas, as they push me to have more creative solutions to interesting concepts and ideas.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Riding a rollercoaster, or windsurfing, or making tacos for my friends in the backyard.