Dolly Grip

  • Dolly Grip

The dolly grip is not the designated Barbie wrangler, but a specialist member of the grip department. 


Duties

A track similar in appearance to a train track is built and laid on the ground to convey the camera dolly, a hefty cart that holds camera and operator for moving/tracking shots. The dolly grip’s job it is to build that track and push the dolly during filming of a scene. When a designated crane operator (also a grip) is not on staff, the dolly grip is also responsible for the build and movement of the camera crane. This person works under the supervision of the best boy grip and key grip, and is ultimately responsible to the director of photography.

Skills & Education

A college degree in film and television production is recommended, though not required. Specific training on grip equipment, dollies, and building the track is necessary, as you are playing with very expensive equipment that if not operated properly can cost thousands of dollars and hold up production on set. This job is well-suited to someone who is mechanically inclined, has a thorough understanding of lighting and photography, and doesn’t mind strenuous physical labor.

What to Expect

You’ll find that many professional grips have stumbled upon the career after experience as a commercial or residential construction worker, though this is not the standard path. Operating the dolly is a step up on the grip career ladder, and experience as a set grip in either film or television is necessary. On set, you can anticipate a hectic pace, long hours and a lot of schlepping. If you see someone carrying something, you had better be following them carrying something heavier. The environment and working conditions are always changing: Today you might be building a short track in an air-conditioned soundstage, tomorrow you’re laying out pallets to keep the 100-foot track run from sinking into the sand on a sweltering desert shoot. You must be flexible, have a strong work ethic, and be most fulfilled when working with your hands. Grips are eligible to become members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union that represents technicians in film, television, and theater.

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