Dissecting a Film Crew: Grips and the Art DepartmentMarc Ehrenbold
A film crew would be nothing without a lighting and an electrical department comprised by the grips – construction workers/mechanics on the set.
The grips work alongside the camera department, particularly in scenarios where the camera is mounted onto a crane or dolly. Grips also assist the lighting department in setting up lighting equipment required for a scene.
Strictly speaking, grips are not electricians, but they handle and “rig” essential equipment used on the set, ensuring safety of the whole cast and crew. These would include equipment such as steel cables and pulleys rigged over the set.
There are 5 grip positions namely:
Key grip – supervises all the other grips and makes sure their jobs are done right
Best boy grip – assistant to the key grip, but is also involved in crew hiring and scheduling, and looks after the rental equipment
Dolly grips – charged with operating camera cranes and dollies
Gaffer – heads the electrical department and helps the director of photography
Best boy electric – works as the gaffer’s assistant and runs the daily hiring, lighting, and crew scheduling. Also coordinates with the rigging crews in larger productions.
The Art Department
In high-budget movie productions, the art department can be made up hundreds of film crew personnel as this department is charged with the overall aesthetics of the movie. Generally speaking, the art department is further made up of a number of sub-departments
Production designer – an important film crew member who works with the director and the producer to choose the style and settings to tell the story. The production designer collaborates with DP (director of photography, the director, and the producer in pre-production to build the look and feel of the project.
Also responsible for creating a unified theme to the film, the production designer consults with the special effects director, costume designer, location manager, and hair and make-up stylists. The production designer manages several film crew members as well:
Art director – manages set designers, illustrators and graphic artists as they work on production design development
Set designers – either an architect or draftsman who design interior spaces and structures as required by the production designer
Set decorator – decorates the film set with furnishings or appliances as needed by the art director and the production designer
Buyers – works under the set decorator, and tasked with locating , buying, or renting set dressing
Set dresser – sets up and remove drapery, furniture, lighting fixtures, carpets, and any set dressings on the set
Props master – member of the film crew who locates and manages the props utilized for the shoot
Props builder – usually are skilled technicians with construction, machining, plastic casting, and electronics background put to use in building props
On the last part of this 3-part blog, we check out the camera department, and the lovely people who make sure cast members look the part on the screen
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