January 19, 2014

'Grip It Good': A Short Film about Grips, the Unsung Heroes of the Film Industry

Mark Vargo, ASC has been on a roll with his educational content recently. First he graced us with an incredibly informative short documentary called Let There Be Light, which is an excellent starting point for anyone just getting into lighting for cinema. He also has another extremely helpful piece about metering light and exposing properly. However, Vargo's most recent short documentary is more of a personal love letter to the entirety of the grip department than it is an instructional documentary -- but, it's entirely possible that you will learn more about being a grip in the next 11 minutes than you ever have in the rest of your life. Check it out:

For the most part, grips are often thought of as the low-level grunt workers on a film set. While the job title carries with it a veritable plethora of duties, the work is anything but menial. From rigging cameras and lighting equipment in places that are frankly mind-blowing, to laying out and leveling hundreds of feet of dolly track, to using to the tools of the trade to manipulate light in every way possible, grips are literally involved with most of the technical aspects of filmmaking in some way or another.

Most importantly, however, grips are often the ones charged with the single most important activity that occurs on every single film set: technical problem-solving.

When a broken piece of vital equipment has the cast and crew up in arms about whether the rest of the work day is salvageable, grips are there with an inherent sense of ingenuity like no other breed of people. When the director decides to throw out the shot-list and "just wing it," grips are there with a willingness to improvise and the technical knowledge to make it all work. When the sun disappears behind the clouds after a half day of shooting in direct sunlight, and for some reason all of your lighting modifiers have mysteriously vanished, grips are there with a MacGuyver-esque sense of duty that allows them to craft a 6x6 frame and bounce out of only a few tree branches, a rubber band, and half of a flexfill.

So here's to you, Grips, for you truly are the unsung heroes of the film industry.

[via Mark Vargo]

Your Comment

20 Comments

F**k yeah grips.

January 19, 2014 at 10:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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rz67

F* Yeah!

January 25, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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kurt lindner

Agree! My grip is one of my best friends and he knows my gear just as well as I do. He is invaluable.

January 19, 2014 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Typo on first sentence: Should read "roll" not "role".

January 19, 2014 at 10:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jorge

You are soo wrong. Roll is correct, look it up. Go american public schools!

January 21, 2014 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Keith

Yes! Go grips. Good to see more women getting into it to.

January 19, 2014 at 1:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

Watching Johnny London Sr. build a compensating jib arm out of speed rail ... it's no wonder that most Directors and Dp's would want their Key Grip with them when stranded on an island. :-) Good Grips Make Camera Look Great!

January 19, 2014 at 5:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mako

Anyone know of any other good grip docs, tutorials, etc?

January 19, 2014 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jackshepard

Got hired as a grip on a feature film in February, watching this made me even more excited. :D Seriously can't wait, it's gonna be so fun! :)

January 19, 2014 at 6:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tiedtke

But what about the PA's who get berated by the entire industry?

January 19, 2014 at 7:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jacinto

"Who here's the key grip? Hit that director in the face. Really f**king hard!"

January 19, 2014 at 11:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Scott

Great vid! I will point our students to this cats website so they learn the role of a grip.

January 21, 2014 at 7:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Keith

Mark has a number of excellent tutorials on vimeo and his web site. I hope he will produce more.

https://vimeo.com/user9924346
http://markvargo.com/

January 23, 2014 at 6:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dave

Being very no-to-low budget indie, almost everyone doubles up as grip anyway ;-)

January 23, 2014 at 7:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Cal

Thank you for sharing. It's so amazing to see what this group of professionals can accomplish and the time it takes that create the light, rigging, and all the other things grips do.

January 24, 2014 at 1:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Michael

We always talk about camera specs and cinematography, but this video really showed how to make a movie. I would love to see more footage about how a scene is set up and the work that goes on before the director and actors show up. A great documentary idea would be to show all of the unique issues that come up on a set and creative ways of solving them.

January 25, 2014 at 1:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dandy Trooper

Buddhist statues (3rd & 4th century) of Gandhara are portrayed wearing strapped sandals. Adam agrees: 'It's impossible to flirt when you're complaining.

January 25, 2014 at 2:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I must thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this website.
I am hoping to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well.
In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to
get my own site now ;)

August 23, 2014 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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One of the coolest shorts I ever saw.

July 16, 2016 at 3:03PM

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Good film. Although I don't believe they are "unsung" at all. Everyone knows how hard they work and how inventive they are. I think that title belongs to accounting and transport IMO.

July 17, 2016 at 3:39PM

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Sandra Montgomery
Script Supervisor
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