Let’s talk key grab work and go over what a grab is on a movie set!
As part of our mission here at no film school, we want to make sure everyone is informed about the jobs they could have within the industry. Plus, if you stick around to watch the credits of a movie, you’ll want to be able to tell your friends what each team title means. it makes you look great. trust us.
Today we are going to cover key grab work.
is very important to the look of the movie and we think it will be interesting to discuss it. So sit back as we explore the key grip on a movie set, compare them to the best boy, and take a deep dive into what it means to be a movie grip.
table of contents
what is a key grab in movies and what does a key grab do?
When talking about film and television crews, the key grab refers to the person who works with the gaffer and director of photography to oversee lighting, setup, and all of the grappling gear.
but let’s dig deeper into the meaning of grab.
grips are technicians who build and maintain all the equipment that supports the cameras. they are directed by the key handle.
hold on to job expectations
manages and maintains all the equipment on set that has to do with the camera department.
which includes tripods, dollies, tracks, arms, cranes and almost all equipment. Let’s say you want to hang a camera from a car or set up a GoPro attached to someone running. the grips build all of that.
They have to be able to be delicate and firm when it comes to their engineering. they are handling the most expensive equipment and they need to know how it works and moves so that the cinematographer has the look he wants.
the wrench handle drives an entire department of workers. they work in conjunction with the camera department to support them and the cinematographer in their efforts.
If the camera needs to be mounted on a jib, crane, ladder, or any other random position, they chat back and forth to make sure it’s possible and safe.
all this is in the grip truck.
what is a grab truck?
There are many vehicles on a film set, but the grab truck is the easiest to spot. In addition to craft services, the grab truck usually has the most people around it. It’s a well-equipped truck with all the big tools and small gadgets you need to tackle a variety of on-set tasks and technical needs.
When you’re hiring a key grab, they’ll usually have connections to places where they rent trucks.
The bigger the truck, the more equipment it has inside. Most professional rental houses offer 3, 5 and 10 ton rental versions of the grab trucks, as well as a 1 ton van package for smaller shoots. but you should have your own utility belt for the little things you use every day.
tools needed in a grab job
If you want to be a grip, you need a utility belt at the ready. so what goes into a grip kit?
- a wrench
- several different types of pliers
- a long tape measure
- a foot level
- a stud finder
- duct tape
- gerber suspension multiplier
- quick wrench
- set of screwdrivers
That’s a generic list, but one of the most important tools a wrench handle needs to carry around on set is a c-wrench. it makes the assembly process much easier and helps you accomplish certain tasks much faster.
You’ll also want to have a place for your walkie talkie.
Key grip definition
As I mentioned, the key grip is the person in charge of the entire grip department.
They are the ones who receive direct orders from the director of photography and who supervise the construction and assembly. It’s an incredibly important department, so the key manager must be an excellent leader.
what does a key grab do?
The main responsible is a head of department, so a copy of the script is sent to them from the beginning. they will participate in the camera meetings and sometimes get involved when it comes to shot lists and storyboarding. especially if there are tricky angles or things the director and cinematographer want to try.
After talking with the cinematographer, the key grab could sketch out some montage ideas and collaborate with others in the department to get ideas on how to do things. Sometimes there are standard platforms, but in sticky situations you might figure out how to tie a red to a camel or how to stop a platform from moving when a Ferrari speeds down a race track.
key grab job description
The responsibilities of key grips are to be excellent problem solvers, to be very creative, and not to get frustrated easily. tactical knowledge and communication skills are also helpful. they need to be able to talk to people on their team and also to the director and cinematographer.
around the world, there may be a different nuance to the post. for example in the uk the grips are part of the camera crew exclusively whereas in new zealand and australia the key grip owns the grip crew so you need them to bring everything to the set and hire the people on depending on what they need. they need and what they offer.
How to become a key grip
The best way to get promoted on any set is to start as a production assistant. After perusing the wide variety of jobs, if you want to be a key assistant, try becoming an assistant in the camera department, or see if assistants have their own dedicated production assistant, depending on the size of the film.
After working as a generic grip for a while, you can work your way into the joint and be ready for key grip positions.
start small and work your way up to epic. make friends with cinematographers and directors who may provide opportunities to work together in the future.
key grab salary
According to forbes magazine, a better grip can expect to earn around $50,00 to $75,000 a year if you work out regularly.
A key grip can expect to earn between $60,000 and $100,000 a year if he works regularly.
all grabs are governed by latse, and in union breakouts, may be subject to union payout rules.
what are a key grab and godfather?
As you know, the key grip is the head of the grip department. below him is the best boy.
There are two types of best boy: best boy electric and best boy grip. In short, the best boy acts as the foreman of the department.
the best grab guy assists the key grab. the best boy electrical assistants the gaffer.
what is the best child grip?
The best guy is the second-in-command and foreman of their respective grappling teams. As an older term, the origin of “best boy” is explained in a couple of different ways.
Some say that in the early days of film making, members of the grip and electrical departments used to get together and ask “their godfather” for help. that would normally be the second in command or the best guy.
Others claim that the name comes from sailing jargon or even from the age of British learning.
Grip vs. Gaffer, or Gaffer vs. Grip
When I started writing this article, I found a bit of confusion here, so I wanted to clarify the roles.
The gaffer is the chief electrician of a film crew. it is his job to manage the lighting, making sure the levels are appropriate for the desired effect in the scene. The gaffer’s assistant is the best electrician and a whole team of electricians.
the grip is a different role. although they are also involved with lighting, they do so from a mechanical point of view. handles operate blinds, filters, nets, flags, or other objects in front of lights, or set up large frames or tents to block out the sun. Grabs are like construction equipment, responsible for the installation and stability of scaffolding, ladders, and other heavy objects. the head grip is called a key grip.
The gaffer and grip often work together, but they do different jobs.
key grip position summary
Whether you want your cameras to hang at odd angles or just have the dolly ready for a good shot, you need a key grip on the job. A key grip may not be known to most people, but there is a lot of importance behind the work.
There is a lot of importance within his role on the set. they help the director and cinematographer stay organized. If you’re looking to find your way as a key player in this industry, we want to hear from you.
Let us know about other job functions and tools people should have in the comments.
Let’s use this as a forum to teach others. and to say hello to our key grabs!
what’s next? learn 13 cinematographic lighting techniques!
Cinematic lighting techniques make your ad, movie, or TV show look cinematic. it will help get your story off the screen. we break down all the main techniques.