If there’s one thing we all need (at least, according to our therapists) it’s a good support system. That’s why grips are absolutely crucial on video production sets. They act as support for multiple departments, mainly camera and electric, but sometimes production design too.
There are a few main roles in the grip department. Key grip is the head honcho and generally the one who collaborates the closest with the Director of Photography. For example, the DP might approach the Key Grip with a camera movement and specific lighting design he wants to achieve in the next shot. The Key Grip then works with the rest of the camera department in creating and troubleshooting any camera support that the shot will need.
After our Key Grip is the Best Boy, Key Grip’s right hand guy or gal. If you’ve heard that term before and thought video crews kept a well behaved kid on set, we don’t blame you. But no, that’s just the cheeky term for a very good grip crew member. Other Grip positions include Dolly Grip, a grip entirely dedicated to ensuring the dolly’s run smooth on set, and Construction Grip, which, like it sounds, helps with set construction.
What makes a great grip department?
It takes a lot of on-set experience and knowledge of equipment to be an effective Grip. They should be familiar with camera equipment, including steadicams, dollys, tripods, cranes and other camera support. They should also know all the ins and outs of lighting, the most important being how to utilize diffusion, flags, bounces and more to achieve the specific look the DP is looking for. And, while technically, they don’t deal with actual electric hook ups on set, knowing the technical specifications of on-set lights is important to being able to understand what lights should be used for what and where they can be positioned.
So, grips support productions, in the broadest sense of the term. We’re not sure where we would be without our dependable in-house Grip, Collin, or our long list of awesome freelancers.
If you’re interested in learning more specifics on grip department, click on any of the topics below!