What Is a Grip in Film? Definition, Responsibilities & 4 Essential Skills
We are all aware that films are brought to life due to a tremendous collaborative effort.
The script, sound, light, props, and all other elements you can think of will have a technician.
Even so, most of us often turn off the TV once the final credits start to roll and are not conscious of the size of the team behind the final product.
So, understandably, few people actually have insight into what a grip is and what their responsibilities is on set. Keep reading to learn.
New to filmmaking in general? Learn all the fundamentals of the film production process.
What is a grip in film?
A grip is a technician responsible for the lighting and camera gear on a film set.
Even though grips do not decide the lighting scheme (the director and cinematographer do), they are the ones who will physically assemble the equipment for it to happen.
These make up the team that must set up and dismantle the supplies.
- Plan the equipment that will be needed
- Set up lighting and recording gear according to the vision of the director
- Maintain equipment for cameras (tripods, dollies, trucks, cranes, and more)
- Dissemble what they have put together at the end of the shooting day
- May also manage the budget associated with this gear
What does a movie grip do?
A movie grip is in charge of many things. Coiling cables, folding silks, handling camera rigs, and much more.
These professionals start by reading the script to anticipate the light and filming equipment necessary.
They may also visit the set in advance, as it may have special conditions.
Because they have to set up the equipment, movie grips are one of the firsts to arrive on shooting days. When shooting, they will control the camera positioning and movements.
They work closely with the director to quickly adapt to changes. When the shooting day is over, they are responsible for tidying all camera-support equipment.
4 Essentials skills needed for a movie grip
1. Technical knowledge
Clearly, there is an endless list of equipment a movie grip is in charge of.
Movie grips must be familiar with all tools and how they function. From knowing how properly wrap cable (harder than it may sound) to adjusting light stands.
2. Creative problem-solving
Even though everything is carefully prepared, sometimes things do not go as planned.
In that sense, movie grips play a crucial role in impeding the director from suffering a heart attack. They must rapidly adjust settings to solve problems (in ways that often are not in the book).
3. Communication skills
As with many other roles, communication is vital for movie grips.
They must continuously listen to the director of photography and make sure other technicians are informed.
4. Physical stamina
If you see a crew member sitting, that probably is not a grip.
As mentioned, movie grips often start working before the shooting day.
Sometimes they travel to the locations in advance and run around to gather equipment. Besides, they arrive early to set and tidy everything at the end.
Not to mention that some of the gear is heavy to move around. Cardio and weight lifting... who needs a gym?
Who does a Grip work with?
Larger productions require extra levels of organization.
In that sense, key grips emerge as the head of the department (in other words, the boss of grips).
Key grips have the same qualifications as grips but are responsible for specific production and also handle the paperwork.
The best boy is the second in command.
After the Key Grip receives instructions from the cinematographer, these are the ones to whom they transmit the information. Sometimes they take care of the paperwork too.
Some productions call for structures as dollies.
These are platforms with wheels that carry the camera and the camera operator. Dolly Grips are responsible for them.
A crane is a device with two ends. One has the camera, the other has the camera controls and a counterweight. A crane grip manages it.
Smaller cranes are often called jibs. Unsurprisingly, there might also be a technician for these.
As the name suggests, trainees assist the grip with operating equipment that supports the camera.
Up next: The duties of a gaffer
Since you are here, you might as well learn a bit more about the team behind the scenes. Up next: the duties of a gaffer.
What is a grip in film?
A technician responsible for the lighting and camera gear.
What is a key grip in film?
They are the head of the team of grips.
What is a grip’s salary?
The average pay of a grip is $51,114 per year or around $25 per hour.
What is a grip and a gaffer?
The gaffer is responsible for the lighting in the film and runs the electrical department.