Sunday, January 03, 2010

Dolly Grip Job Description

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.


  1. Danny7:37 AM

    Thanks for the post today! I always get this question of what i do. There really isnt a good way to quickly describe what we do, so this will really help!

  2. I always say, i provide and set-up the equipment as it comes to camera support to make every shot possible that the dp or director desires.

  3. Thanks Danny. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Good answer Bjorn.

  4. We operate the operator. If the operator is not in the right place at the right time, he cant get the shot he needs. The synergy with the operator is crucial. There has got to be an understanding of each other. When the grip and operator "get" each other and "get" the shot ... expect beautiful work.

  5. Nicely said, Sanjay. It's good to hear from you my friend. I hope your short visit to America was good.

  6. Hey D,
    My visit was great. Only to Atlanta, but really nice. Very cold (below freezing) which I understand is unusual for the time of year. But I really like the city. Great personality.
    Pity I missed you there ! Next time...

    Hey D, if you have Dan Pershings phone number, can you email it to me? I lost his contact details.

  7. D,
    Could you give an example of how changing technology affects the role of a dolly grip? Love your posts as they always keep me checking myself on set.

    Much thanks,

  8. Sure. I think as the technology has gotten more complicated, we are relied on even more to deliver. Our input on what can and can't be done with a certain piece of equipment is valued even more.The Technocrane is an example. A dolly is a pretty simple machine. Anyone can make it go from one to two (albeit not always on a certain cue, or a compound move etc) It's a little more complicated to walk up to a Techno and put it through it's paces without some expertise or a good bit of practice. Effects shots also often call for us to repeat a move exactly down to a split second. Again, something not just anyone can walk up and do on the spot. We're relied upon a little more and our input is sought a little more. These are just two examples (after a long day). Who agrees or disagrees?

  9. Hi my name is Welison and I'm really interested in learn about how to be a grip, can you give me some advice about courses or thinks that you think will help me?
    Thank's a lot and hope you can help me :) my Email is:
    Sorry for my English I'm just lerning.

  10. Thanks for your post, it helped me a lot in understanding the role or grips.

  11. Anonymous12:59 PM

    this sucks

  12. Ladies and gentlemen we have our first troll. He had unlimited time and opportunity and all he could come up with was, "This sux." You Nasal Blowhole are clearly a genius.

  13. Anonymous12:58 AM

    Hi my name is Luke and I'm really interested in learn how to comebe a grip, can you give me some advice about courses or things that you think will help me?
    Thank's a lot and hope to hear from you.
    My email is:

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Love the dolly and knowing this shot is all up to me and my operator .Corntrol is everything:) ..I new in film ..But would love to know how I can learn more ..Any websites or suggestions u can help me with ?