Grip (job)

From Academic Kids

A Grip is a term that dates back to the early era of the circus. It carried on from there to vaudeville and on to today's music and film soundstages and sets. Some have suggested the name comes from the 30's-40's slang term for a tool bag or "grip" that these technicians use to carry their equipment to work.

In the U.S., grips are trained lighting and rigging technicians. They make up their own department on a film set and are led by a key grip. The main responsibilities of a grip are to work closely with the electrical department to put in the lighting set-ups necessary for a shot.

In Hollywood, a grip is not allowed to touch the lights themselves. Lighting is handled by the electricians who work under a "gaffer". Grips do, however, handle all of the equipment not directly attached to the lights that filter or block the light. In exterior shooting (outside), they perform the same function -- shading or filtering sunlight. The rigging for these exterior shots can become quite extensive.

On the sound stage (in the studio), they are responsible for moving and adjusting major set pieces (e.g. walls) when something needs to be moved to get a camera into position.

They also work closely with the camera department, especially if the camera is mounted to a dolly, crane or other unusual position. Some grips may specialize in operating camera dollies or cranes. U.S. grips may belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, which is their union.

Outside of Hollywood, particularly for "non-union" productions, the line of distinction between a grip and an electrician is often blurred, with most of the lighting crew simply referred to as grips and, paradoxically, their boss being referred to as the gaffer (who is in charge of the electricians in Hollywood, but not directly responsible for the grips).

In the U.K. and Australia, grips mostly work on setting up and taking care of the camera mounting equipment.

There are several kinds of grips:


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