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The history of grips

Leto Grzesiak

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Hi guys


i was wondering if anybody out there could point me in the right direction in finding out about the history of Grips in the film industry ether a book or website or personal knowledge.


As i need to find out for my final year university project about grips ( as i would like to pursue a career as a grip when i leave uni) and other crew members who are seen as lower down on the film making hierarchy but are vital to a film set.


any help would be appreciated

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Historically, I think you'll find most grips didn't feel compelled to complete a degree to get a foot in the door.


The most experienced Hollywood grip I know (the only one actually) seems phobic about writing much down but he is one if the sharpest mental calculators around for distances, mass and time. Just don't ask for it on paper, or you'll get a diagram with arrows and so on. He uses his technical Oscar as a paper weight.


Pity we're not in the same country as him or he'd be a great guy to ask.

Edited by Chris Millar
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thank you, both of you, i really appreciate all the help @ Chris Miller thats a huge shame we live in diffrent countrys as he sounds like the perfect person talk to, i know you don't have to have a degree to work as a grip ( the course that i'm doing is film productionsothat cover everything from pre,prodution and post) , i only relised last year that i want to work as a grip, when my university made a feature film (the only uni in the country that does this ) where i was the grip and camera assistant, which i really enjoyed and gained a whole lot of repect for the job. and made we want to get my foot in the door of the film industry as a runner / grip.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I dont think many grips (me included) have a huge knowledge of the origins of their trade.

I believe you are based in the UK. The Grip system used there is very different from the system used in the US.

If you are in the UK and want to talk to very experienced grips, my advice would be to seek out Denis Frazer and Kenny Atherfold.

They are veterans who have been around a long time, and you could sit across a table from them and have a chat. Denis retired from active work on set a while ago (he runs Chapman Leonards operations in Europe) and Kenny Atherfold still works.

Slightly younger, but hugely experienced grips are John Flemming and David Appleby. Speaking to either of them would give you a wealth of knowledge. A lot of the really big jobs that happen in the UK are done by John and David, who apart from being great Grips, are also great guys.

Good luck, and welcome to the Grip World !

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