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What can you tell me about Gripping?

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One of the things I'm not too familiar with is the job of the Key Grip and gripping in general.

 

I understand that they are involved mostly in the use of the dolly track, but can anyone go more in depth with this?

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The grips do a lot more than the dolly. Grips are responsible for rigging and flagging. So they use flags and nets and grip stands. They also rig the butterflies and build soft boxes. If I want a light hung in a certain place, they have to figure out how to put something there to hang the light on. They also rig the camera- that is make it secure wherever the DP wants it placed - such as on the hood of a car. When we shot a scene for project Runway Allstars, I had a grip rig the gopros inside a helicopter the contestants were going to be flown around in. There is a book from Focal Press titled "The Grip Book". There is also an app for mobile devices called the Grip app.

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I started as a grip. It's more than just setting up lights, flags, nets and scrims. You often do the onset "SFX", operate dimmers when asked, sometimes give cues to actors with handling a prop for the shoot, rig technical apparatus, run errands when PAs are busy, ride on the grip truck, lay track, service equipment that breaks down on set (if you're allowed), check cables (although that's more the electrician's and best boy's job).

 

In short you do all the technical stuff on set that other people can't do. You usually run around with a tool belt, a Makita in your grip bag, some gels, and adjustable wrench, and all kinds of screwdrivers. Often on stage your spend your time atop a scissors lift or cherry picker up in the grid adjusting lights for the gaffer. On location you're doing all kinds of crap; setting up reflectors, running cables, adjusting big 10ks, checking the camera's rigged to a vehicle securely.

 

You also make sure the set doesn't get out of hand with spare junk. Often someone, usually the video techs, will create a rat's nest with cables, and then casually toss extensions (stingers and stage boxes) into a heap until they need them because they're pressed to get the shot. It's your job to make sure that rat's nest doesn't stay that way.

 

That's the job of a grip. It's a lot of work, keeps the calories off, can be a lot of fun, especially if you're into the project.

 

Caution; when shooting on location you might be called in to do a little crowd control with security. It's no fun confronting some drunken fool whose got oodles of questions about "what movie are you shooting?", who may also be a vagabond, transvestite, or just a gang members. Though that rarely happens these days with private security firms.

 

In short your a combination construction worker / tech / manual laborer.

 

Hope that helps.

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