Friday, January 15, 2010

Repost of an Old Favorite: "Gripping Basics"

I'm a little short on time, and inspiration this week. 14 hour days, midnight company moves, wife out of town, and three dogs to care for (one is 15 and can no longer make it out the door, so he leaves me a little surprise every night), have all made finding time to post a little hard.  I went back through the archives and found this one. Since we've had some search hits for "grip description" it might be appropriate. My firm belief is that you have to put in a fair amount of time as a set grip before you can be an effective Dolly Grip. All of us on this site have spent many a night hauling sandbags and setting flags before we moved on to pushing dolly. A good Dolly Grip can work a set with the best of them. Here are a few tips to help those of you still in the trenches.

First posted 11/17/07. New comments added.

Someone contacted me recently and suggested I write a post on basic Gripping. Here are some tips:

Righty tighty, lefty loosey This one should be on a t-shirt. It's the Cardinal Rule. Learn it. It comes up a lot.

If they ask for a double, bring a single too.

When you set a 4x4 outside, use a combo stand.

When you set a flag, put the big leg under the weight.

When you set diffusion, fill the frame.

Put the diffusion at the angle of the light.

It will always start raining at wrap.

If you tie a 12x12 off to a sandbag cart, turn it sideways to the rag.

Gel closest to the light, then diffusion. In my original post, I got a comment from a grip who took offense at this one. He said he always puts the gel outside the diffusion and gave some lame ass reason for it. I took it easy on him. I shouldn't have. Gel goes before diffusion. Every experienced Set Grip knows this. So shut it. The other grips are laughing at you.

Bfl (big f#$%^g light), big f#$%g flag. One of the hardest things for me to figure out when I was a young grip was which sized flag to bring. In time, you'll get it. Generally, though, make the flag size correspond to the light size.

When laying track, level is good, getting the bumps out of the joints is better. If the track is consistent, the Dolly Grip can level it on the head. He can't correct for a huge bump in the seam though.

Always, ALWAYS bring everything. I'm guilty of breaking this one. It always bites me in the ass. Whatever you don't have is the first thing they'll ask for. To this one I'll add, Bring the Luma Beams.

If you bring a half-apple, also bring two quarters (and maybe a pancake).

Know your knots (clove hitch, bowline, truckers hitch, bohemian lesbian death hitch).

The "board stretcher" does not exist.

Neither does the "air hook."

"T-stops" are not in the jockey box (they are usually in the workbox, second drawer down).

If you keep two seats on the dolly, you are a chump. To this I'll add, to all you new Dolly Grips: If your focus puller needs to ride every shot, he's a moron. He's not the only one being taken for a ride. Miss your mark by six inches. Re-mark it.

The operator does not always need a sideboard. Don't just put it on there at the beginning of the day. Please.

Seat offsets are for the weak-minded. Apologies to certain Dolly Grips whom I really admire.

Always look at the set from where the camera is, it's all that matters.

Never fall asleep on an 8-step ladder. I did this one time. It wasn't pretty. I woke up on the way down.

Safety everything. It will fall. It will hit Katherine Heigle on the head. You will get fired.

Keep an extra jacket on the truck. It will always get colder than you think it will. Few things are more emasculating than wearing a fellow grip's jacket. Unless you're a female grip.

If you have a question, or don't know how to do something, ASK.  I get it. You're 22 and you don't want to look like you don't know something. I've been there. Trust me, everyone knows you're 22. They expect you to be respectful, keep your mouth shut, and your ears open. They will bury you. It will hurt.

As my friend Ted says, never be afraid to break something. Ted's a Rigging Key. He hangs thousands of pounds over poeple's heads.

Those are all I can think of for now...oh yeah, Murphy's Law applies more in this business than any other...if it can go wrong, it will. Never take anything for granted.

I still go back and set grip in between shows sometimes. It's good for the soul and makes me feel 22 again. (OK, it didn't hurt this much then, but you know what I mean).


Nathan said...

Always, ALWAYS bring everything.

I can't tell you how much Location Managers hate that rule. Not only do I need room for all of the tractor-trailers outside, I need to have room for all of their contents inside. I practically need to double the square footage of the set itself to make sure everyone's got room for staging.

One of these days, I'm finding a set that has elevators big and beefy enough to get all the trucks up to the 10th floor. :D

(Actually, there is one building in NY that's sorta like that, but the elevators open onto loading bays on each floor that are only big enough for a few cube trucks. Alas.)

Azurgrip said...

On the elevator topic - when a National Television company built their headquarters from the ground up, they included large enough and strong enough elevators to take ten ton trucks to the upper floor studios (I can't remember which floor, but we're talking in the 8 - 12 range).

What they did forget to install was the exhaust system for the running trucks and for that, trucks have been banned from entering those elevators and everything must be humped up.

A.J. said...

When you set a flag, put the big leg under the weight.

Thank you! That's gripping 101, but I'm often surprised at how many people don't do that.

Also, where do you put the sand bag on a c-stand? The big leg or little one? Because let's just say I've gotten into one or two... "arguments" over that one, and I need to hear the answer from a respectable pro.

D said...

Put the bag on the big leg in general. Sometimes, you may have to put one on the big leg, and then wrap one around the post on the small one to be opposite the weight. A bag that's sitting on the ground on top of the small leg is useless. The stand has to support the weight of the bag. Just throwing one over the small leg with the weight all on the ground does nothing.

The Grip Works said...

Ha ha ha !! great post D.

"bohemian lesbian death hitch????" got to learn that one..

Nothing worse than a set grip who doesn't ask the questions he should be asking. If you are inexperienced .. please ask before doing, no one expects you to know everything right away

A.J. said...

Thank you! I've always been taught that a bag without all the weight on the stand is a useless one. Unfortunately, some people fail to grasp the physics of it.

Dgs1618 said...

great tips! thanks!

The Grip Works said...

"Seat offsets are for the weak-minded" ... ha ha ha !!! D's pet peeve :-) You crack me up ! There is going to be a whole new breed of dolly grips growing up reading your post with an aversion to seat offsets ... maybe Chapman and Fisher will stop making them !!

Anonymous said...

I also have the habit to whenever it's possible on setting a floppy on a C-stand to under sling it. It's cleaner, neater and supports better the weight. Avoiding those ugly tennis balls or water bottles.

Anonymous said...

love this post. every grip should read this. let me just add......when you think you know it all, it's time to get out. he who claims to know it all is an idiot

Anonymous said...

OH! Another important thing. It's THE BASIC, I know, but every grip should know this too:


Why? The weight tends to pull forward-down, therefore, to the same direction as the knuckle tighten. Remember: right-tighty lefty-loosey

D said...

Thanks guys. Great comments.

D said...

Nathan, nobody hates that rule more than I do. you know, though, that whatever we don't bring is the one thing they'll ask for. It's uncanny.

GHB said...

Classic. And you're correct. Every grip should read this. Especially the 26 year old ones that call themselves Key Grips. Here's a good question...When setting a topper...Do you run the flag up through the light? or do you wing it up wide of the light and then settle it in on top? I bet a lot of you know the answer and I bet a lot of you do it the wrong way anyway....

Don't fear the seat offset....

Thanks for always laying down some great posts, my friend....Getting my ass kicked in the rain in SF right now. Looking forward to getting back to L.A., but I've heard the weather isn't much better there....

D said...

Hi GHB. Yeah, the old man don't take much time between movies does he? Have fun. We're getting pounded too. As far as your riddle about toppers, I know the answer, and usually try to do it right (at least as long as someone's looking through the eyepiece or metering it :)

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