On average, there is nothing wrong with Grips that a nice dose of empathy wouldn’t cure.

The reputation grips have in the film world is well earned: they are indifferent—the bad ones being contemptuous—of anything other than themselves, their gear, and their role on any given set.

It could be argued that the reason why most grips bluntly disregard anyone else on the set (except their immediate superior) is simply a pathological lack of courtesy.  Whereas this can be true, it is not the prevalent reason.

The real reason (one I choose to believe this for no other reason than it makes me less angry with them) why most grips bluntly disregard anyone else on set—brusquely shouldering through crowds without even so much as a nod; scoffing at any observation they themselves don’t generate; or their endless eye rolls, snarky whispers and deep indicting sighs—is because they can’t:  their job is so focused and so demanding that even basic etiquette is demoted to inconvenience.

As with any position it is not the position but the person filling it. There are good grips, great grips and just plain jerks.

Because lighting is often the most time-consuming aspect of setting up a shot, I choose to believe grips are frequently infuriated by everyone else’s inability or unwillingness to recognize the urgency of their (the grips’) duties.

Under this perception (which to be fair is sometimes true) grips simply reflect this back to everyone else on the set.  Naturally, this never solves the tension but only compounds it, sometimes to the point of confrontation.

So, let’s start by recognizing that grips are heavily laden with a great deal of responsibility, both physical and temporal—they work both against gravity and the clock, striving for the perfection sought by the Director of Photography.

Like all things, you are not responsible for the actions of others—only your own.

So, be kind to your grips and try to understand the extreme pressure they are under.  That’s a good start.  If you have time, help them when you can. I think most of them will appreciate the effort.

If, after this initial olive branch (and many after it) the grips on your set continue to be disrespectful and alienating, and if you find it a distraction to your job, quietly inform the Assistant Director who, in turn, will assess the matter and determine whether or not it is an actionable complaint.

There is a chain of command for a reason.

These conclusions being wrong, I must submit they are generally rude and condescending for no discernible reason.


~ by David Jetre on January 23, 2011.

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