Urbana native works as grip in Hollywood

By Steve Stout - sstout@civitasmedia.com

After graduating from Ohio University in 1999 with a degree in communications, Urbana native Aaron Smith got a job working at ABC 6/Fox 28 TV in Columbus.

But by then, his true dream was to work in film production.

“I took video and film production classes at OU as a sophomore and realized that maybe I could work in the entertainment industry,” said Smith, a 1995 Urbana High School graduate. “I quit (ABC 6/Fox 28 TV) because it was boring. I wanted to work in film production and started freelancing around 2001 and I worked on a low-budget feature called ‘Green Card Fever’ as a loader.”

A loader keeps track of film stock and loads the magazines.

“I also eventually worked as an assistant camera man,” he said. “After a few years I stopped working in camera, and started working in grip and electric departments, and did so in Columbus until around 2012.”

At that point, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles – the movie capital – and started working as a grip.

A grip is a lighting and rigging technician who works in the film and video production industries.

“I exclusively work as a grip now … it’s a good trade and the work is plentiful out here,” Smith said. “The union I am in is the grip union (IATSE Local 80), and it took me about 18 months to qualify for the L.A. union.”

Since arriving in Los Angeles, Smith has worked as a grip on such movie and TV productions as “Ted 2,” “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “American Genius” (as key grip – the head of the grip department), “Super Girl,” “Kevin From Work,” “The Grinder” and “Ouija 2.”

He is currently working as a grip on HBO’s “Veep,” which will complete filming its fifth season later this month.

Smith returned to Ohio in March of 2014 for five weeks to work on location as a grip on the film “Carol,” which stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a love story set in 1952.

The film recently received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress (Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Mara), Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“I was already living in Los Angeles at the time ‘Carol’ shot in Cincinnati, but since I still hold a union card in Ohio (IATSE Local 209), I was able to come back and work on the movie,” said Smith. “I am a big fan of the director (Todd Haynes) and really wanted to work on it, especially back in my home state.

“It was a great experience, and I was really happy to see Cate get an Oscar nomination. She was super friendly on the set and very down to earth.”

By Steve Stout


Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout

Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout