Grip (Unscripted TV)

Technical Dpt
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What does a grip do?

Grips are responsible for the equipment that supports the cameras, whether that be a tripod or a 100-foot crane. While the director is responsible for the artistry of the shots, grips work out how to position cameras so they move to achieve the desired effect. Whether they are setting up minicams in cars, cranes (jibs) or wheeled carts (a dolly), grips help achieve smooth, continuous shots.  

If filming is on location, they might go on a recce ahead of the shoot with the camera operator. They look at the practical issues of where cameras will be placed and work out what supports will be needed. Grips hire suitable equipment from rental companies and on occasion may have to work with them to devise tailor-made pieces of kit.

During filming, they set up the equipment and are responsible for helping the jib or dolly operator. At the end of a shoot, they are responsible for de-rigging and re-packing the camera equipment.

It’s common for camera supervisors to request the services of grips with whom they have formed good relationships.

What's a grip good at?

  • Knowledge of cameras: understand the technical requirements of cameras and support equipment, such as jib arms, and be up to date with the latest technology
  • Physical fitness: be prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot
  • Communication: listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail, be able to explain and share pertinent information concisely
  • Organisation: schedule the equipment hire and return
  • Innovation: think of practical solutions to problems quickly

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