12 Tips For Grips

Being a grip is hard work. Being rushed while carrying heavy equipment is never fun. Hopefully the tips below will help alleviate some of the stress! If you’re looking for grips for your project, be sure to check out our Crew ListIf you’re a grip yourself, you should join our Crew List!

1. Keep Your Gear Clean

This goes without saying, upkeep is always important when is comes to any equipment. However, it’s especially important with textiles and green/blue screens. These should never touch the ground or get leaned up against anything dirty. It is crucial that these stay clean. A black smudge or stain on a green screen can make lighting a nightmare and will upset the VFX guys quickly.

2. Building Small Frames

Sometimes you’ll be called upon to build some frames. When building 6’×6′ or 8’×8′ frames, the frame can be set on stands horizontally – making it flat, allowing the process of tying the textile easier. If building alone you can tie opposite ends or corners first, this insures the textile never touches the ground. If you forgot why this is important, please review the previous tip.

3. Building Large Frames

On occasion you’ll need to build 12’×12′ or 20’×20′ collapsible frames.  The frame should be built while it’s half way open which resembles an “A”, this is the simplest way. While tying the textile to the frame, you must tie to the top of the “A” first, this will keep the textile off the ground and clean.

A 20x20 used by film grips.
Looks big, but you can do it!

4. Removing Textiles

Once the piece is wrapped, you’ll have to undo what you just did. When removing textiles from frames you can untie all ties except the ones in the middle by the ears (the part that hooks into the stands). Doing this last is important because it keeps the fabric from touching the ground and aids in folding the fabric.

5. What is the "Pretty Side"

You might hear the word “pretty side” while you’re working with the grips. It’s important to know which side of the textile is the “pretty side”. It’ll leave a good impression on your Key Grip if you do. “Pretty side” refers to the cleanest, white side or side that faces camera of the textile or green screen. When folding fabrics “pretty side” must face inside to keep fabric safe and clean. 

6. Flags and the "Pretty Side"

When setting flags “pretty side” always faces out.

7. Flagging Lights

It is the responsibility of the grips to flag lights that cause unwanted flares from hitting the camera lens. This can be done either close to the lamp or close to the lens, depending on the limitations of the set. If there is nothing that the grips can do, the camera team might be able to help out with an eyebrow, sider, or black tape.

You'll learn to master these very quickly

8. Keeping Spill At Bay

Sometimes the DP will want the lights boxed. This is done generally to keep light spills off of walls and other parts of the set. This could also be done using black wrap or flags depending on the situation.

9. Resting Gear

Do not lean flags, c-stands, or anything else against the set walls or dressing. Grip gear is often metal and can scratch walls and cause damage to the set dressing, this is not a great way to represent your department. Even if you place it nicely, the set decorators might not like it. Be courteous. 

10. "Sandwich"

If a “sandwich” is called for, this refers to 1 of each type of net and silk sandwiched between two flags. However, if someone calls “sandwiches” and you’re on a union set, there’s some food coming your way!

11. Don't Hurt Yourself!

Save your back, lift with your legs. Grips have to deal with heavy gear, don’t hurt yourself while doing it. If you’re hoping to stick with this career for the long run, you have to handle yourself properly. When it comes to sandbags, kick them off of stands. Try not to carry more than two sandbags at a time. Save your back and your energy.

12. Transporting Sandbags

Depending on the weight of sandbags do not pile more than 10-12 sandbags on a tongue dolly. Anymore than 12 sandbags can cause the tongue to break. Often times these dollies will have labels on them stating the maximum number, but use 12 as a default.

Got Any Other Tips Grips Should Know?

We’re always looking for contributions from our community. If you’ve got any tips you’d like to share, we’d be happy to hear them in the comments below!

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