Saturday, April 04, 2015

Repost For Young Grips.

This one is a repost from 2008. It's still relevant.

 I've been getting a lot of comments and emails from young grips just starting out which I'm kind of surprised about. I haven't seen many young grips starting out in the last few years and wondered if people just weren't going into it anymore. So here are some general tips from my own experience and from working with younger grips:
Ask questions. Don't act like you already know everything because if you're 22, we know you're lying and it just makes us want to screw with you.
Keep your dialogue to a minimum. Chatterboxes just get on our nerves.
Watch and know where your Key is at all times. If you see him or the DP waving their arm in front of a light, get a stand and flag ready to run in. You'll eventually get to a point where you'll know what a light needs when you see it, but not in a year.
Be on time. Better yet, be 30 minutes early.
You'll be the victim of some good natured (and some just nasty) jokes. Laugh louder than anyone. They're testing you.
Setting a flag isn't generally a two man (or three man) job.
Deferred pay is slang for "free." You'll probably do a freebie or two (I did). Treat them as a learning experience and chance to practice. Don't believe that crap about paying you when they make money. They're full of it.
The long, low paying crappy movies you slave on now will make some of the best stories and memories later. It won't last forever and no, there really isn't a difference in how huge movies are run. The pay is better, there are more toys to play with, and you'll rub elbows with bigger names, but the process is the same. It'll just take 4 months instead of 3 weeks. Now is the time to learn, while the stakes are lower. And you won't learn it all in a couple of shows. Gripping involves a lot of things; rigging, lighting, construction, engineering, camera movement, safety, and a little art mixed in. You want to learn as much as you can now so when you're on the 120 million dollar picture with Brad Pitt and Vilmos Zsigmond, you'll know what you're doing. You'll find a niche that suits you. I'm not a rigger. I can bolt truss together and build a car mount but I can't walk on a stage and know where and how the truss goes (well, I could, but just not as well as a Key Rigger.) You might want to be a Key Grip, Dolly Grip, Rigging Grip, Best B oy, or stay a Set Grip. But you'll generally find yourself gravitating to a certain area of expertise.
Join the union. No matter what your politics are, in the US at least, you'll need the turnaround, overtime, and insurance protection they provide. Plus, all the big movies are union. There's nothing wrong with low budget indies if that's your taste, but if you want to do bigger budget work, you'll need to work toward this. I was non-union for a while at the beginning and resisted, but eventually got in and my career got immediately better.
Allright boys (and girls), stay at it and drop a line every now and then.

Here's an addendum: You aren't a grip if you spend the majority of the day at the carts on your phone waiting for the Key Grip to call for something. Not too long ago, we assigned one guy to the carts and the rest stayed on set. Now, it seems the entire grip crew can be found vigorously Facebooking at the carts while the Key and Dolly Grip are on set. You aren't grips, you are gofers. Once you learn lighting, rigging, set discipline, blocking, and rudimentary camera rigging, you can relax a little. Here's a tip: you can't learn those things in a couple of years. Get off your ass and learn the craft. Or you don't belong here. 


Michael Taylor said...

I remember this post from when you first published it, and it's just as good -- and relevant -- today as it was then. The biggest problem I see in young grips and juicers these days boils down to one thing: they don't pay attention to what's happening around them on set. Instead, they stare into their goddamned cell phones while waiting for the Key or Gaffer to yell for something. Those grips and juicers are always a step behind, and make their boss (and their department) look bad. Knowing what you're doing -- being a pro -- requires paying attention on set. Do that and you'll know what's coming for grip and electric before your boss has to yell -- and then you'll be right there with whatever is needed to solve most on-set problems before they actually become a problem.

I know it can be boring on set -- believe me, I've sat on many an apple box at 3:00 a.m. staring at my shoes while waiting and praying for the AD to call "wrap," but that's the nature of the biz. I understand the temptation to surf the web on your smart phone while waiting for something -- anything -- to happen… and there's a time for that. But knowing when is crucial. You can't pull out your cell phone every time there's a brief lull in the action -- thus taking your head out of the on-set game -- and hope to learn the skills or earn the respect a good grip or juicer deserves.

Unknown said...

This is really good information. I am new to the game but I can already see where these tips come into play. I was curious if there were more websites that you could point me in the direction of where I could keep up to date with new Grip information as well as learning old techniques as well.

D said...

Exactly. I'm not immune to using my phone during long slow stretches of nothing like waiting for wardrobe changes etc. I try to do it as low key as possible, only for a minute or so at a time and I'm always right there behind the camera. But now I see guys run in a flag and hand it off and immediately return to the carts, sit on a box and resume face booking. Thanks for the input. The late nights staring at your shoes captures it percectly.

D said...

Hi Chris. I would start with Michael Taylors bog at hollywood yes he is a juicer, you won't find a better written site about Hollywood set life and the tribulations that go with it. He also has an extensive link list by category (much better organized and updated than mine.)

D said...

I didn't mean anything by the "Yes he's a juicer comment" other than that I assumed you were a grip. You will probably get more out of his writing than mine.

Unknown said...

Lol it's ok. I am a Grip. Thank you for the site. I have found it sort of difficult to find websites dedicated to this career field.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hey, Im new to the game and looking to get a couple more tips from you. I was hoping to know what kind of things a dolly grip brings with him to set in his or her bag?

Nuria Gomez said...

Hello mate niice blog