This post is a case of catering to my search engine hits. I get a lot of hits from Google with the search title dolly grip job description. This inevitably leads them to my post Dolly Grips and the Camera Department. That post really doesn't actually describe the job, so I'm going to post this to lead prospective searchers here instead. Those of you who are regular readers may add to it in the comments or skip this post altogether. It ain't nothing you ain't seen before.
The Dolly Grip is responsible for camera movement in the film world. We operate all moving camera platforms (except Steadicam) and are responsible for their maintenance and setup. We also work in conjunction with the camera operator to come up with the best way to do a particular shot, as well as what piece of equipment will work best. Dolly Grips are considered to be kind of a rough camera operator, in that it is our responsibility to have the camera in a particular place at a particular time during a shot in order that the camera operator can refine it and make it work. We do the broad strokes so the guy looking through the eyepiece can do the detailed work of composing the frame. To do this job properly you must have an innate sense of how shots are staged and know where the camera needs to be to make it work. You must develop a sense of split second timing and be able to repeat a shot from take to take as exactly as possible. You must also have a knowledge of many different camera platforms from various dollies to various types of camera cranes and be knowledgeable in their safe operation, keeping in mind that your primary responsibility is safety. As technology changes, so does the role of the Dolly Grip, and our skills are relied upon more than at any other time in the history of filmaking.
Aside from the technical demands,the Dolly Grip also adds emotion to a scene through camera movement. The "slow creep," the dramatic boom up, the quick push -in, have been used for decades to move the viewer and help tell the story. The Dolly Grip achieves this through absolute control of his machine, timing, and an understanding of the emotion the director is trying to convey. We've helped create some of the most memorable images in movie history through movement: The soaring crane shot in Gone With the Wind, the dramatic push-in on Brody in Jaws. These are just a couple of shots immortalized by the Dolly Grip.
The best Dolly Grips work as a team with their Camera Operators and make it their responsibility to assist them in any way they can to get the shot safely and smoothly.
There. I hope this helps those of you who have found this site through Google. Welcome to our little corner of the interweb. Comments are welcome.