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Grip Buzz May 2021

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Grip Buzz May 2021
John Roderick is a mountain maestro, orchestrating his career as Neu Productions’ director/cinematographer along with his rental business serving adventure sports and lifestyle production in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Although he’s at home shooting a commercial while strapped into a snowboard, that’s not enough for this multifaceted lensman who is bringing Hollywood’s tools to the top of the mountain.
His latest enterprise, Mountain Goat Grip, is a fully loaded, full service grip, lighting and camera support vehicle—Rocky mountain-meets-Roderick-style. That means an extensive gear list that’s ready for any challenge plus an array of unexpected tools, ready to inspire creativity without limitation in the great outdoors. It’s a new niche, he says: “From fashion to commercial to adventure sports, they want to shoot in the high alpine. We provide the most complete production package that’s ever made it up the mountain.”
Roderick began outfitting his all-in-one production vehicle in 2020. A critical component was an extended Sprinter van, smaller than traditional grip trucks, but more agile, and built specifically for rugged and remote locations. So with regard for space, nature and hard-to-reach locations, he painstakingly equipped his 4x4 Mercedes, with attention to details like-minded directors, cinematographers and photographers would appreciate.
MSE fit the bill for grip. “We’re always pushing up against the elements (snow, rain, hail, sand, etc.) here and need the gear to parallel this rugged environment,” explains Roderick. “Matthews has been my choice from day one for the quality and shelf life—you can see from the build to the coatings. Compared to other brands we’ve had in the past, this protection keeps our equipment away from rust or corrosion, and I like rolling into to each project with great looking gear. A lot of this equipment will be with our business for the next 30+ years and if we should damage anything, we can rely on having access to the replacement parts we need.”
Roderick carefully chose the gear, balancing light weight with his desire to be ready for any need. Mountain Goat’s 32 stands include: C-stands with Rocky Mountain Legs, Baby Stands, as well as Two Rise and Three Rise Combo Stands. “We’re often on uneven surfaces at ski resorts so Matthew’s Rocky Mountain leg functionality allows more creativity as to how and where we shape light,” the experienced mountain shooter adds. His leave-nothing-to-chance array of grip and rigging includes a Menace Arm, mini boom arms and clamps galore: Platypus, Matthellinis, Chain Vice, Furni Clamps, Mafers, Super Mafers, Grid Clamps, Pipe Clamps and trusted C-Clamps. Plus the van houses a Matthews Freedom Car Mount, sandbags, apple boxes of all sizes, Furni Pads as well as adapters, wall plates and safety cables. The van is also stocked with extras like mounts, carts, radios, wireless remotes, solar batteries and fog, wind and snow machines—in case they’re needed up the mountain.
Lighting in the wilds of Colorado presents its own unique challenges. The van carries LED and tungsten lights Roderick complements with other fixtures on request. “It’s about shaping and controlling large natural light sources,” he explains. A major advantage for Mountain Goat clients is the ability to craft light with Matthews fundamental tools: reflectors, bounce boards, mirrors, scrims, flags, floppies, and rags of all types—in 12’, 8’ and 6’. Matthews Combo stands loaded with negative fill and a variety of diffusion are strung on overheads on most every shoot to control often-blinding illumination from harsh sun and snow.
John Roderick knows his niche. “There is an emerging filmmaker out there”, he says. “Previously, folks working in action sports never thought much about grip and lighting and we had to backpack everything we owned into the back country. When brands like Oakley and Red Bull devoted media departments with significant budgets to the genre, it opened the door for professional tools. Mountain Goat Grip lets me bring grip, lighting and camera support to the adventure category.”

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