From Film School to Grey’s Anatomy with Greg Reeves

As Assistant Chief Lighting Technician (Best Boy), Greg Reeves knows what’s going to happen next on Grey’s Anatomy but he’s not telling. In fact, he’s been privy to the secrets of this award-winning medical drama for more than a decade and has loved every minute of his tenure with the show.

Reeves’ path to Grey’s Anatomy began about 20 years ago as a student at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. An avid still photographer prior to college, Reeves felt that working as a DP while in school was a natural extension of his interest in photography and cameras. Rather than concentrating on his own projects like many people did, he felt he could make more films by working on other productions. For a couple of years, he and his roommate were DPs on multiple projects, shooting about 15 short films each. “We worked weekends on the films, honing our craft,” Reeves recalls. In addition to providing solid filmmaking experience, “It was fun.”

As a natural extension of refining his filmmaking skills on multiple projects, Reeves developed a network of contacts, which eventually led to offers of work on low budget films. In the mid-90’s, independent productions were on the upswing so there was no shortage of indie films. At the same time, Reeves lent his skills to projects at other film schools, further broadening his circle of contacts.

A turning point in Reeves career came with a chance to work on an AFI project over a weekend. “I thought, that will be interesting. I’ll meet some different people,” Reeves explains. Sweetening the pot, says Reeves, was the fact that “To this day, AFI has always had top of the line equipment and all the people were working professionals, so I was really excited about the opportunity.”

Although hired as a loader, fate stepped in and Reeves was mistakenly put on the crew list as a grip. As a result, he was asked if he could fill in as an electrician. His response? “Sure, I can do that.” “It wasn’t necessarily a lie,” said Reeves, who had the skills, if not the title, to fulfill the responsibilities the job entailed.

“It was that decision that enabled every else after that,” Reeves explains. “You meet the people, you work on increasingly better projects, you eventually get to join the union and you’re in.” Although you have to be able to do the job and do it well, the importance of networking and making contacts in the industry is key. As Reeves explains, “When you work in production, the thicker your rolodex, the more work you have.”

Reeves started working on bigger and more high profile projects, with more recognizable actors. But it wasn’t until he was working on The Winner, the 1996 film directed by Alex Cox and starring Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent D’Onofrio, that the opportunity to join IATSE 728 (the local union of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for studio electrical lighting technicians) arose. He had been out of school for only a couple of years and, at the time, wasn’t sure about the consequences of joining a union when some of the crew on the movie decided to “go union.” “I was more scared that I was going to get blackballed by the people in my department,” Reeves admitted, although it wasn’t long before he realized his fears were unwarranted. And, that the benefits of joining this prestigious union exceeded all expectations.

Just a few of Greg G. Reeves’ Credits (alphabetically)

  • Apocalypto (rigging electrician) 2006
  • Charmed (TV Series) (electrician – 1 episode) 2006
  • Citation of Merit (Short) (gaffer) 1999
  • Damages (TV Movie) (lighting console programmer) 2006
  • Das kalifornische Quartett (TV Movie) (2nd AC) 1995
  • Dharma & Greg (TV Series) (set lighting technician – 78 episodes) 1998-2002
  • Grey’s Anatomy (TV Series)
    • (assistant chief lighting technician – 48 episodes, 2008 – 2010)
    • (lighting console programmer – 41 episodes, 2006 – 2008)
  • Killer Pad (dimmer board operator) 2008
  • Star Trek (rigging electrician) – 2009
  • Still Standing (TV Series) (lighting console programmer – 86 episodes) 2002-2006
  • Summerland (TV Series) (rigging gaffer – 1 episode) 2004
  • The Jeff Foxworthy Show (TV Series) (electrician) 1995
  • The Pool at Maddy Breaker’s (TV Movie) (best boy electric) 2003
  • The Sender (electrician – uncredited) 1998
  • The Twilight of the Golds (electrician) 1996
  • The Winner (electrician) 1996
  • Titus (TV Series) (best boy electric – pilot) 2000
  • Working (TV Series) (electrician) 1997
  • You’re the Worst (TV Series) (best boy electric – 9 episodes) 2014

For a full listing of the Greg’s credits, check out his IMDB page!

In order to join the IATSE 728, you have to be working on a production that “flips” (goes from non-union) for at least 30 days. As he explains, “If you’re working in L.A., you have to be in 728—we’re the only union that covers our work (lighting) specifically.” Once he joined the union, Reeves’ career and income accelerated and he’s been working steadily ever since on projects ranging from TV shows like Dharma and Greg and Gray’s Anatomy to major motion pictures like Star Trek (reboot), released in 2009.

Until the recent elections in 2015, Reeves was president of the union and, prior to that, had served as an executive board member, vice president and central labor council member, so he is even more intimately aware how the union benefits its members. As a labor union, IATSE 728 is, naturally, involved in negotiations and offering its members tangible benefits. Equally as important is the availability of free safety and training classes to keep members up to date on the latest technology and enabling them to further develop their skills. Reeves notes that, “Alan Rowe [who was recently elected president of Local 728] has been the training director and works tirelessly for the organization, developing a world class safety and training program, as well as craft specific classes.”

And then there’s the camaraderie and the support. By joining the union, says Reeves, “You realize that you’re part of something important, something bigger—you have support, you have camaraderie. Things I wasn’t really aware of before joining IATSE 728.” Without joining the union—which he calls a watershed in his career—he wouldn’t be working on Grey’s Anatomy and knowing, long before we do, what’s going to happen on next week’s episode.

About IATSE 728

Part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 728 represents the Motion Picture Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians of Hollywood, CA.

For more information, visit them online at www.iatse728.org

Our thanks to Greg for his insight on coming up in the the industry as well as working within IATSE 728. Check out more of his his work and credits on IMDB and follow him on Instagram!