Get a Grip


Wayne Frazier

I was watching the credits at the end of a movie the other day and suddenly realized that I was totally mesmerized. When you think about it, the number of people that need to come together to make a major motion picture is staggering. These people are often underestimated not only by people outside of the industry but also those that have a more “upfront”role. They are the people from the crew to craft services and everyone in between that help a movie to the final stages. They are the backbone that make the actors, directors and writers look good.

I have experiences as a professional actor on set. My call time is 7 a.m. and when I arrive I am a bit nervous because I feel like I might be a bit late. You see equipment trucks, wardrobe trailers and men and women with radios and clipboards dashing all about. What time did these people get to location? They all look as if they have been up for hours. Your day is about to begin, while they are close to taking their first break. Let’s take a look at who these amazing people are…

Making a Movie 101: Who Makes the Movie

A film crew is hired by production companies to produce a motion picture or film. There are different departments that make up the crew, and each one has a distinctive job to carry out in order for production to run succinctly. These people are either union affiliated, contracted independents or interns.

We know the process of film-making has a writer(s), actors, director and producer. However, for the production to run smoothly the film crew is responsible for setting up the make-believe world. So, let’s give credit to some of the film crews past, present and future.

Camera people are the eyes on the set, making them a vital link in the chain. The camera crew usually consists of the operator, the first assistant, second assistant, film loader, digital imaging technician, stedicam operator and motion control operator. Each of these jobs is special in a major film production. Sometimes they are not all used, depending on budget and what the director envisions for the shots.

Without proper lighting, camera shots can look horrendous. A person called the gaffer (chief lighting technician) leads the lighting department. His/her crew has a main assistant known as a best boy, who oversees the rentals, electrical trucks, etc. The lighting technicians are responsible for positioning the equipment safely for each shot. A key grip works closely with the director and cinematographer for proper lighting placement and blocking for the actors.

The electrical personal have all the power. Electricians make sure power is distributed safely from the lights to the sound board all the way to the coffee maker.

The Grip(s) keep the set in motion. I often wondered what the heck a grip was when I saw it scroll on the credits. Are they the people that are constantly at the end of the rope (Get a grip, mister!). Of course not, but they are often at the end of an electrical wire, or light board or you name it. These men and women, from the key grip to best boy to dolly grip, help hold the production together. They deal with both electric and lighting bouncing from job to job and they deserve a major credit.

Wardrobe/Make-up are essential in making the actors “look the part.” These are the guys and gals that make you look happy, or dirty or scary, etc. Depending on the production, they may be responsible for one or two actors to hundreds. Sometimes the costumes are simple and the make-up is basic. However, often times with today’s onslaught of superhero movies, they must deal with special effects make-up and outrageous outfits. Are you interested in sfx?

It is very important to be nice to the people like the P.A.’s (production assistants), craft services, security: Let us not forget the people who sign you in for the day, make sure you are happy on set, feed you and protect us. To all the P.A.’s, make-up, wardrobe, electricians, lighting people, grips, gaffers, and the rest thank you!

Remember, working on a set you will have to prepare yourself for long hours. How do I work onset? Check out the following website for more information. or to get a start. So a big kudos to all the behind the scenes people, you are truly the backbone of the movie industry. See you on-set!!!