Grip Talk – The Most Important Attribute
Grip, Grip Assistant, Dolly Grip, Rigging Grip, Key Grip… the list goes on and they all sound a little funny. They are the lifeblood of the crew though. They do the heavy lifting, and they are the people often responsible for safety and comfort and a lot of “the hard work.” Most importantly, the word “grip” is the catch all term for the guys or girls on a set who do just about everything that needs to be done that isn’t already in someone else’s title. If you only have 4 or 5 people on a crew then a grip may do anything from setting a light to attaching a camera to a car, to holding a boom pole, to running a fan for the talent so they don’t sweat through their makeup. Grips are the unsung heroes on any set and though they don’t get much credit, and rarely have a purely creative role, they do get a lot of chances to make smart decisions.
The number one thing I look for when hiring a grip is a good sense of anticipation. This attribute trumps all others in my opinion because it signifies that many other skills are present. To be good at anticipating what will happen next you need to have:
- Good awareness
- A broad understanding of the big picture
- A good grasp on the endless procedures of filmmaking
- Keen technical knowledge
- Attention to detail
This is why, for a grip, anticipation is key. I also want them to be sort of “lazy.” NO, not in that way, but in the way that an experienced veteran knows how to do things the smarter way the first time so that they won’t have to work harder than they have to. They don’t like having to do the same job twice, and they probably don’t like having to lug a bunch of gear on multiple trips when they could’ve been better prepared with a cart and made one perfect trip. I love “lazy” grips because they are always thinking ahead and planning to be ready for anything because they know their job will be easier that way.
The last thing I love in a grip (and anyone else on set) is a positive attitude. The fact of the matter is that there will be times on set that simply aren’t that fun. It might get too cold or too hot or you might be at the end of a really long day when all the breakers start tripping and the smoke machines set the fire alarms off. No matter how much you prep and plan to prevent, unforeseen calamities will happen and the only way to get out relatively unscathed is with a great attitude.
In the end, filmmaking is a team sport, it’s about collaboration and the best ideas winning out. It’s also about understanding that we are privileged to work in the field we do. We are lucky to be able to make moving pictures for a living and quite often have a lot of fun doing it. So pick the right grips for your crew and take care of them!