If you were the kind of kid that set up complex systems of ropes and pulleys to open your bedroom door or rigged up an elaborate track for your matchbox cars? Then becoming a movie set grip might just be your dream job. Movie Set grips are responsible for rigging up dollies on tracks, setting up cameras, and following the Director of Photography’s creative vision. While there is no single path to becoming a movie set grip, a combination of the proper education and experience can undoubtedly make a difference.
Grips set up all the equipment necessary to get the right look on camera. They often have the fantastic ability to find the suitable clamp, stand, cable, or other equipment required to get the lighting and cameras positioned perfectly. On a really busy movie set, the job of a grip requires hauling gear and the ability to think quickly and solve problems. As with any member of a film crew, a grip should be prepared to work as a team, anticipate the needs of the Director and the Director of Photography, and be great at following instructions.
If you're interested in becoming a grip, there are several ways to improve your skills and increase the chance of getting hired on a film set. For example, it might be helpful to study media, film, cinematography, or even a more technical discipline like construction or mechanical engineering. Each of these courses of study will help teach you different elements of the film industry.
Studying mechanical engineering can help you be great at assembling dolly systems or elaborate setups for cameras, and studying film can help you understand the creative side and workings of a film set. It can also be helpful to look for short-term training programs offered by trade schools and community colleges.
It will be essential to have some experience to make an impression on producers hiring for upcoming films. A grip can often get their start by applying for entry-level jobs as production assistants, grip assistants, or other low-level jobs on a set. Spending time working on community TV productions or independent films can also help you add some experience to your resume. In addition, taking part in student productions during film school can help you network and gain valuable experience if you take that route.
In the film industry, getting hired is often a matter of who you know. Any experience in independent or student films can help, but you can't limit yourself to only working in movies. Looking for freelance gigs on commercial crews or TV shows can help you gain much-needed experience. Using sites like Backstage, Creative Cow, or Variety to browse jobs and other industry publications can also be helpful. Don't forget to ask for a heads-up or a recommendation from people you've worked with in the past. Many times, that's the best way to get hired for your next grip gig. Living in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, or New York will give you the best opportunity and the most work in your industry.
Gaining experience can help you move up from an assistant position to the second in charge best boy. Then, from best boy, you will work up to the status of a key grip and qualify for union membership that can help you get more benefits and better pay.
If you or someone you know requires a grip truck for an upcoming independent film, contact us at tikigripelectric.com for more information on how we can be of service for your film-making needs.