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Grip: Job Description, Roles and Responsibilities

Rujuta Patil
A grip is a person who sets up and maintains the camera support system in a film or video production. The key grip is known as the first in command, who supervises the best boy grip and the dolly grip. Get to know the responsibilities and duties of these film crew members.


The term 'Grip' comes from 'stagehand' or stage technician in American theater, who used to shift the scenery.
Cinema can turn fantasy into reality quite easily, is what we believe in. But it is easier said than done. Although understood to be a creative medium of art, filmmaking does entail a lot of technicalities.
One such technicality is the handling of the support system for the chief instrument in film production - the camera. The person responsible for this job is known as a grip.

Who are Grips?

These individuals are lighting and rigging technicians in the film crew who look after the camera support system in filmmaking and video production industries.
Grips establish the required set up for shooting a scene, as per the instructions from the director of photography or the cinematographer. Scheduling the set up, dismantling, and shifting of the camera along with its equipment to some other location, and being ready for the next shot in time, is the main task.
A film may be shot using more than one camera. A camera could be swinging from a helicopter, or hanging from a crane, or could be mounted on a high hill.
Such adventurous locations of shoot require immense thought and anticipation of where and how meticulously the camera can possibly be moved, how fast or slow, and most importantly, with utmost safety. So, grips 'have to do a great job'. Also, this profession is unquestionably all about great team work.

What Does a Key Grip Do?

The key grip is the supervisor of all other grips. He works directly with the director of photography, and is also answerable to him.
Executing his vision on the set requires, at times, coming up with custom-made tools to place the camera on, and be able to make the shoot in difficult terrain and weather as seamless as possible. Ingenuity is a part of the skill set of a key grip.


- Preparation of the potential tasks prior to the start of the shoot.

- Accompanying the cinematographer at the locations during the scout, and understanding the requirements of all equipment during the shoot.
- Determining the details of the tools, including cranes, trolleys, tracks, mounts, etc. Also, confirming any additional technical arrangements pertaining specifically to a particular location; transportation of the equipment to the site, etc.
- At the location, collaborating with the electric (or gaffer - head electrician) and camera teams to finalize the camera movement and set up, and lighting as expected by the director of photography.

- Leading the entire team of grips (including dedicated technicians like the dolly grip) to coordinated efforts.
- When shooting with multiple cameras, the key grip is responsible for the main camera, and his crew for additional camera support.

- Safety of the crew is an important duty.

- Thinking ahead, having the equipment ready, or stand by for any unexpected scenes; trying to prevent the occurrence of any issues in the first place.

What Does a Best Boy Grip Do?

There is a history to this name. In early times, there was a less rigid separation between the electric and grip departments.
In case of some help required by either of the departments, the supervisor of one department used to ask the other for 'lending their best boy' for some time. Thus, the term became a standard for this job.
- He or she is considered as second-in-command in this trade.

- The best boy mainly assists the key grip.

- Day-to-day operations of the grip or lighting department. Planning and executing the lighting (along with the gaffer) and rigging.

- Hiring, scheduling, and managing other grips as required for a specific task.
- Arranging for the right equipment for the right location; its renting, ordering, inventory, and returning.

- Stocking of expendables.
- Loading and unloading of production equipment from the trucks.

- Dealing with other production departments.

- During breaks, the best boy works on behalf of the key grip or gaffer.

What Does a Dolly Grip Do?

A dolly is a wheeled platform that can carry and move the camera and also the person operating the camera.
It basically aids free movement of the camera to make different shooting angles possible. Here, being 'slow and steady' matters a lot. The person works with the camera crew, and rehearses the movements to perfect them. The best of the dolly grips are known and hired for their 'touch'.


- Establishing the dollies or other equipment to be used to mount the camera, placing and leveling them.

- Operating these camera dollies. A primary task is of pushing or pulling the camera dollies or the equipment being used.
- Must be able to produce smooth movements, with no distractions from the on-screen actions.

- In situations where the camera is hand-held, he safely directs the person holding it by gentle touches, pulls and pushes, thus guiding him away from any hurdles like walls.
- Operating the 'boom' (the device holding the microphone, when the camera is mounted on a crane, for example).

- Executing dolly shots or trucking shots: dolly in, dolly out, and dolly with (parallel movement alongside a moving object).
The roles and duties of a grip are not the same in all countries. A grip is not at all concerned with the lighting in the UK, as he is solely a part of the camera department. In Australia and New Zealand, the key grip is the one who owns the entire equipment, including the dolly, cranes, tracks, camera cars, insert trailers, etc.