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Explaining the Grip department

In the United Kingdom and parts of Europe the Grip department is dedicated to helping the Director of Photography achieve their aims of visual movement in cinematography on film and television projects. Achieving these movements generally entails the use of heavier specialist equipment such as the ‘Camera dolly’, ‘Camera crane’ or ‘Camera Jibs’. Check out our blog post called ‘Explaining Grip equipment’ for more information on these specialist pieces of equipment. If any specialist rigging of cameras, for example at dangerous heights or to vehicles, is ever needed on set, this also falls under the Grip’s responsibility.

The Grip department can vary in size depending upon the size of the production. On larger scale productions there could be teams of 10 persons and upwards, on smaller productions there may just be one Grip and a trainee. The teams are headed by the ‘Key Grip’. The Key Grips right hand man or woman is known as the ‘Best boy/girl grip’, there can then be several other grips within the team and a series of assistants and trainees. These figures can vary upon the productions sizes and needs. Some productions may have a core crew of individuals but on certain days require more crew for extra cameras or rigging, these crew members are called dailies.

What does the term Grip stand for?

In the United Kingdom the role of a Grip in film and television is a member of the on-set crew devoted to helping the director of photography achieve visual movement. This usually entails the control of heavier camera movements. These movements generally utilise larger pieces of equipment such as a camera dolly, camera crane or jib arm. The grip department is an independent department that is under the control of the director of photography and is dedicated to helping the director of photography achieve their visual goals for a project.

In the United States and certain parts of Europe, a Grip is a more general term for members of the lighting and grip crew that are in control of heavier stands and support for both camera and lighting. The term ‘Dolly Grip’ may more appropriately describe the role of a regular ‘Grip’ in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe.

What does the term ‘Key Grip’ stand for?

The ‘Key Grip’ is the head of the grip department on set. The key grip usually works closely with the Director of Photography and the production team to ensure that the Grip department is both staffed and runs smoothly. Key grips will often be involved in the provision of equipment and crew for a production. Sometimes the key grip will play a key role on set, other times the key grip will leave this to their team as they organise the day to day running and staffing of a team.

What does the term ‘Best boy/girl Grip’ stand for?

It stands for the right-hand man or woman to the Key Grip. On bigger productions a best boy/girl grip may be more office based as they help run the logistical crewing of the team and organisation of equipment. We understand the best boy/girl Grip is arguably a more dated term, but it is commonly used on set.

If you’d like to find out more information on the role of Grips in film and television then please check out our other website and other blog posts at

This post was written for educational and informational purposes and does not at any point claim to be the official standpoint of Grips internationally or nationally on film and television sets. Grips around the world work in different ways and job roles may vary depending upon location.

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