I recently had the pleasure to talk with Kurt Kornemann, a very successful Key Grip and the beloved husband to the lovely Margo in Fueld's Accounting department. Although he may spend most of his time travelling around the world to work on some seriously awesome movies, he got his start right here in Austin! He has been lucky enough to work with some of best filmmakers of our age on films such as Men Who Stare at Goats, Death Proof, Rushmore and many, many more. In the pictures featured above, you can see our man of the hour hard at work behind the scenes on some of his more recent projects. In this exclusive interview, Kurt reveals some of the ins and outs of working in the film industry.
Can you tell me, for those who may not be familiar, what is the job of a Key Grip?
The Grips are the sailors on the ship. We do all the Camera movement, we do the shaping and diffusing of Light and all of the technical rigging. As the Key Grip, I am in charge of this department and work closely with the Director of Photography and Gaffer to achieve the Director's aesthetic vision for the film. I usually start a film with about 3 or 4 weeks of prep and continue through principal photography and wrap.
In your opinion, what is the most enjoyable aspect of being a Key Grip? Do you get to use more creativity or logic in performing everyday duties?
That is a tough question. There are many aspects I enjoy. If I had to say just one thing, it would be my Crew. I have an amazing Team. I've been lucky enough to travel the world with some of them and we can put a camera anywhere. I use both creativity and logic all day long, you have to be creative about lighting and camera movement, but you also have to be practical and smart about it.
From the looks of your IMDB, it seems that you stay extremely busy. How do you power through the long days/nights and balance personal life with work?
I love what I do and I have an amazing wife! But it ain't easy!
When did you first realize this is what you wanted to do?
I've always loved Movies. I was on my first film, volunteering on a $30,000.00 project. I was getting coffee for the producers and started watching the grips and electricians, they never stopped and they were cool. They let me help and I just never stopped.
How did you break into the industry?
It was when Linklater was doing "Slacker" and Rodriquez was doing "El Mariachi", something was in the air in Austin. It was cool. I just started volunteering on any film that would have me. Taking out trash, picking up cigarette butts and doing lock ups 4 blocks away. Eventually I became a part of Ferrell Shinnick's Grip Crew and was asked to join the film technicians union.
You’ve worked with highly acclaimed directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and even Wes Anderson. Is there anything interesting you can tell us about your experience working with them or any other celebrity/director?
I've learned to never kiss and tell, but I do know where the bodies are buried. I can tell you that Clint Eastwood is the best film maker I have ever had the pleasure of being around and Spike Jonze is a very close second. It's been a great ride so far!
Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on?
"Zero Dark Thirty"
Do you have any advice for those looking to break into the film industry?
You gotta Love It! If it is your passion, the world is your oyster!
- Kate Bannon, Fueld Spring Intern