Saturday, April 07, 2018

The Lull

  Ok, here it is. I'm going to veer away from Dolly Gripping in specific here for a minute and talk about the craft of gripping in general. This is not something I would normally do on social media but it's my page so screw it. The town I work in is a little slow right now. It happens every year and not just here. Even Los Angeles is generally slow from roughly Thanksgiving until February. Fine. My town was extremely busy last year. I mean EXTREMELY busy. We had at least three Marvel shows including one which shot for 14 months. That's besides all the other series and pilots and movies. As a result a lot of people were brought in to the business to take up the slack. Everyone worked at a frenetic pace. As for myself, I haven't had a day off that I didn't take voluntarily in almost two years. Then the lull hit, which everyone who has been in the business for more than five years saw coming.  Most of the veterans were prepared and most of us kept working or went on vacation. The youngest among us, though, who were basically begged to work for their sandbag carrying skills, suddenly found themselves out of work for many months. I now see a lot of them making some pretty daring posts on social media about how they aren't being hired right now when for a year all they did was work.  All I can say is, "Dude, you were lucky." You were lucky to come of age when the only skill that was required of you was a strong back and an ability to show up on time. And now that it has slowed to a more normal pace, experience trumps youth. Gripping is a craft. Being a good set grip is a severely underappreciated and underestimated skill. I hate to break it to you like this but this amount of work is the norm.You want to get the call? Be better than the guy (or girl) they're calling now. You have to build a reputation. You have to expand your skill set. Just being available and having a tool belt isn't actually all that's required of this career. If someone led you to believe this then you were sold a bill of goods and should ask for your money back.  This job requires more than showing up and sitting at the carts, scrolling through your phone until the Key calls for a C-Stand. You have to know rigging. You have to know lighting. You have to know safety. You have to be able to anticipate. You have to be able to hear your Key Grip's name being called from another room while engaged in a conversation and immediately respond. You should be able to interpret much of what your DP wants by how he's waving his hands.  Can you set a flag and run it up 20 feet on a stand and wing it in and nail it? No? Then you aren't qualified. Do you know what hardware to bring to set for a car mount without having to be given a list? No? Then you aren't qualified. Do you know the difference between a day or night bounce? No? Then you aren't qualified.  What's the first thing you establish when building a car mount? Don't know? Then you aren't qualified. Can you lay track? (a set grip should know how to lay track) No? Then you aren't qualified. Can you tie off a 12x12 without being told every move to make? No? Then you aren't qualified. It takes years. YEARS to learn how to do this job well. It's being part artist and part engineer and if you want it bad enough you learn as much as you can about it and brush the pretenders aside and take your place on a crew. You will be often unappreciated, often underpaid for what you do, and often treated like a monkey with tools. But eventually, if you stay with it and learn your craft, you will start to ascend in the ranks. Your experience and skill will pay off. But you don't get to claim that after a year of work. You wait your turn like the rest of us did and elbow your way forward after learning the intricacies of the C-Stand and the differences between diffusions. What does the term "Fill the frame" mean? Look it up. What becomes the source after you set the diffusion in front of a lamp? Ask someone. I'm sorry you're not working after putting in a hard first year of nonstop work. Welcome to the movie business. Learn your craft. Being available isn't the only job requirement this year.

Rant over,
D

4 comments:

Michael Taylor said...

Yep...

Anonymous said...

I wish the new grips would take off their tool belts. Learn how to grip with their minds and hands. What good is an extra twenty pounds of tools if they have no gripping skills ?

A said...

<3

Anonymous said...

The less tools you carry the more experience you have. I carried a fucking tool bag on me when i started, now i'm trying to find the smallest pouch i can