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My first job as a grip


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#1 Carol Hicks

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:51 PM

I saw that everyone was giving the guy with his first P.A. job some good pointers, next week I've got my first film job as a grip. When I got the reply to my application this film seemed pretty professional and to put it simply I'm worried I'm going to make an ass out of myself.

One of the things he mentioned in his reply was a kit rental, what do you normally get in one of those, duct tape and stands? Other than that does anyone have any advice for what I should and should not do, and what I should bring?
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#2 JD Hartman

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:26 PM

What tools to bring is somwhat determined by the job(s) you'll be doing and your skills. The Uva's Basic Grip book will give you a lot of guidence. An essential skill is listienng to the orders from the Key Grip and his "Best".
At the very least: leather gloves. I can't tell you how many "grips" I've worked with who don't have their gloves. Some basics: Tool belt and pouch; needle nose pliers; side cutters or lineman's pliers; folding allen wrench set; screwdrivers, straight blade and philips; 25' tape measure.
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#3 Michele Peterson

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 04:15 PM

A kit fee for a grip does not mean you'll be expected to bring stands or any of that type of equipment. That will all be rented. You'll need to hand tools and some tape. I suggest at least one roll of 2" black paper tape and a 1" roll of gaff tape, maybe some snot tape. Ask the key or best whom you spoke to about the kit, they may include a price for power tools like power screwdriver or circular saw (if you have one at home). You want to check, because if they are getting a higher priced kit fee for those more expensive item, don't undercut them by bringing it in your kit fee.

Bring:

gloves (as said before, you MUST have these)
A tool belt (all these tool should be kept on you)
hammer
crescent wrench
screwdriver (to save space in your belt, get one that has interchangeable tips)
needlenose pliers
vise grip
dykes
knife (get one that has both a serrated part to cut rope and straight edge to cut gels)
tape (put it on a short loop of rope and keep it on you)
safety googles (get some of your own that you always have with you and are a little more stylish)
pens
pencil
sharpie
nails and screws (just a handful to have with you, you may or not get them from the truck, but if you are being paid a decent kit fee, bring everything reasonable that might be expected, you don't necessarily have to use your own)
A leatherman is great to have in your pocket, but not required.


A good place to get a cheap belt is an army surplus store. Tie a loop of rope on crescent wrench to put it on your wrist when climbing a ladder or working up on the perms. Even if you're not planning on gripping as a career, these are good basic tools to invest in to have around the house. Label everything, things tend to grow legs and walk away when anyone nearby needs a tool or pen.

As a female gripping, I suggest getting a more specialty wire cutters instead of just regular dykes, that way it takes less force to cut nails or grip chain. A lot of people say women can't do grip work, but it's all about working smarter rather than harder. Think about everything heavy you pick up and use leverage to your advantage. Male or female, you need to save your back. ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your back straight and never turn your hips (take a step with your feet instead) when lifting. As a female, I also find that pink tools disappear less.

I like to bring a backpack or leave in my car, extra personal items. I bring a change of clothes, especially socks, a hat, since it's summer, bring pants if you're wearing shorts in case it gets cold at night. Wear good shoes you know won't hurt your feet. Steel toed are best. I also bring things like sunblock, advil, big water bottle. You can also put things you may need, but don't want to carry on your belt all day, like extra tape. You can also put tools your tools away somewhere.

Edited by Michele Peterson, 07 July 2008 - 04:17 PM.

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#4 Andrew Koch

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:01 PM

Wear good shoes you know won't hurt your feet. Steel toed are best.


I was told by an old timer that it used to be common practice to wear steel toed shoes on set, but he now doesn't recommend them because if something heavy falls on on them, the steel in the shoes can actually cut off the toes of the person wearing them. The last poster seems pretty knowledgeable, so I could be wrong about this. At the very least, don't wear open-toed shoes, but I'm sure you already knew that.

If you have worked on smaller shows, you may have noticed that sometimes the Grip is also doing double duty as an electric. I don't know how it is done in Canada, but in Los Angeles, if done according to protocol, grip and electric are two completely separate departments. They are also separate unions. If Canada operates the same way, be mindful of this and make sure you stick to your departmental duties. Don't start running cable or setting lights. The electricians will not like that. The only reason to do something like that would be if the key grip or best boy grip asks you to for some strange reason (They might if it is a really small show and there is a shortage of people, but this is something your superior will have worked out with the other department, hopefully)

Never run on set. I don't care how much of a hurry you are in. It is dangerous, you waste needed energy for the long hours and the drive home, and it makes you look bad because people will think your brain is scattered. It is also a great way to show that you are new and inexperienced. I'm am saying this because when I first got on a decent sized show, I really wanted to prove myself and show that I was a hard worker and could get the job done fast. So when someone called for something, I would run to get it. One of the guys in my department was nice enough to pull me aside without embarrassing me any more than I had embarrassed myself and explained to me that it was inappropriate and dangerous to run on set.

Good luck and learn as much as you can. Work smarter, not harder. For example, take a little extra time to grab that muscle cart if you need to haul over a bunch of sandbags. You won't win any points for lugging 4 on each shoulder,
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#5 Diana Fox

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:11 PM

As a female gripping, I suggest getting a more specialty wire cutters instead of just regular dykes, that way it takes less force to cut nails or grip chain. A lot of people say women can't do grip work, but it's all about working smarter rather than harder. Think about everything heavy you pick up and use leverage to your advantage. Male or female, you need to save your back. ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your back straight and never turn your hips (take a step with your feet instead) when lifting. As a female, I also find that pink tools disappear less.

I like to bring a backpack or leave in my car, extra personal items. I bring a change of clothes, especially socks, a hat, since it's summer, bring pants if you're wearing shorts in case it gets cold at night. Wear good shoes you know won't hurt your feet. Steel toed are best. I also bring things like sunblock, advil, big water bottle. You can also put things you may need, but don't want to carry on your belt all day, like extra tape. You can also put tools your tools away somewhere.


As a girl trying to get into grip/electric work, thanks for that advice. Especially, the pink tools tip. I haven't seen any sold around here though, so I may just buy pink tape and wrap it around, or perhaps the internet...hmm
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#6 Carol Hicks

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:44 PM

Yeah, that is a great idea, I went out and bought some pink spray paint for my tools. Thanks a lot.
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#7 Michele Peterson

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 12:21 AM

Finding pink tools isn't easy, only a few of mine are that way. You can get pink 1" gaff tape at film tools. I also put pink line to put a loop on my wrench. I do want to paint my black knife pink, but haven't gotten around to it. A pink razor blade/utility knife if easier to find. I'd rather have a better quality black knife than a pink one that will break. Most of the cute little tools for women are not very high quality.

As for the steel toes shoes cutting your toes off, I think that is more of a myth. Anything that could push the steel all the way through your toes, would sever your toes if you didn't have protection anyway. I also doubt it will be the cause of cut off your toes, more likely just smash them like any other hard object on the outside of your shoe. If a car drives over your foot, nothing is going to save it. I have seen & taken a co-worker to the hospital when a combo stand fell on his foot. That was because someone didn't lock the riser down like they should have and he picked it up by the top riser and the rest fell on his foot (he only had regular tennis shoes on). Most work boots have reinforces toes, even if they aren't steel.

Sorry about the lack of better structure to my other post, I was adding as thought came to me of all the things I have been taught. I also second what was mentioned about Uva's Basic grip book. You don't have to understand how everything works yet, but learn to recognize things so you can get it when asked for. I forgot to put a tape measure on my list too, but he said that before me anyway.
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#8 Michele Peterson

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 12:50 AM

Another recommendation, get gloves that fit well. It's very hard to find anything more than gardening gloves that are the right size for women. I used a pair from the local hardware stores for years doing various jobs, but finally wore through them and bought small size gloves from film tools. I didn't realize how much a difference it makes.
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#9 Vanessa Ward

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 02:01 AM

As for the steel toes shoes cutting your toes off, I think that is more of a myth.

In fact, they addressed it on MythBusters.

"Myth #1: Steel Toe Amputation
Can steel-toed boots amputate toes when a heavy weight is dropped on them?
No, you're much better off wearing them on level ground. It's when preventing a heavy cart from rolling downhill that they draw blood."
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#10 Carol Hicks

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:59 AM

Hey everyone. I finished the job and I think everything went pretty well. I just wanted to thank all of you for your help:D
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#11 Mark August SOC

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:13 PM

[quote name='Andrew Koch' date='Jul 7 2008, 07:01 PM' post='240974']
I was told by an old timer that it used to be common practice to wear steel toed shoes on set, but he now doesn't recommend them because if something heavy falls on on them, the steel in the shoes can actually cut off the toes of the person wearing them. The last poster seems pretty knowledgeable, so I could be wrong about this. At the very least, don't wear open-toed shoes, but I'm sure you already knew that.


I would second guess the recommended statement on steel toes shoes! Wow! In my 19 years of Military service (and still wearing steel toe boots) I have never heard of Steel toe shoes cuting off someones toes. I know you stated you could be wrong on the matter. If there was a issue with steel toes being a saftey problem, it would not be out there for so many workers and military members world wide. So, let your old timer friend whom does not recommend them know I think he/ she is wrong! I have have been filming many times and had my feet run over by a vehcile and 'Thanks' to my steel toes boots I have my toes. I would not wear open-toes shoes. Just know there are always issues out there and options. OH! How I had my toes run over was on a the flight deck filming aircraft land on deck. There are yellow gear (aircraft towing vechiles) on deck and there is liitle room for aircraft and never any for photographers or cameraman filming (not looking at what is going on outside my viewfinder- my bad). So if you can wear saftey shoes, "Wear them"! Better safe than sorry!

Mark August S.O.C.
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#12 Darryl Richard Humber

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 07:01 AM

I did a horseracing movie years ago and the trainers told us not to wear steel toed boots around the horses. Not because of amputation but because he said if a 2000 lb horse stomps your boot, the steel can collapse trapping you in the boot.
True or not, I don't know but we didn't wear them after that story.
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