Film Grip

Jason Newton

Tell us about your work---what do you do? Grips are in charge of movie or television sets, lighting, camera position and all the rigging on a set. It is basically set operations. What skills are needed? Carpentry skills are essential, as well as being good with tools and mechanically inclined. You have to troubleshoot and be able to evaluate situations and find ways to solve them. The Director of Photography is in charge and he or she tells which way is the safest and easiest way to light the camera. What was your major? Film How did you get started in your career? My dad is a contract carpenter for the film industry . A bit of nepotism got me in the door. What experience do you need in this job? Actually none. You really just have to get your foot in the door. Once you see how sets work, you catch on. It is unlike any other business in the world. Describe your "typical" workday: We set up the first set at 7 a.m. From there, we carry equipment to the set: lights, cameras, etc. Each scene is filmed four or five times from different angles, so we have to constantly make adjustments to the equipment. At most, you do one or two scenes a day; a typical movie is around 150 scenes. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Definitely it has to be the hours. 14-hour days are the minimum. If we are working in town (in Los Angeles) we work five days. If we are on location, we work six days per week. A typical week is 70 to 90 hours. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Besides the money? The travel is the best part. It's something new everyday, I am challenged and I learn something new each day I work. I've been all around the world in my job. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? If you really want to do this, you have to work extremely hard. You have to start at the bottom, but the rewards are great. Every day you have about 12 hours of tedious work, but you also have at least two hours of glory.