Supervise the crews that set up lights and cameras for movies and TV shows.
What does a Key Grip do?
Grips are Hollywood’s House Movers. Whenever a film crew moves — sequentially to a new scene in the script, or physically to a new location — they do all the heavy lifting, laboring under the direction of a Key Grip, the senior-most Grip in charge of telling all the other Grips what to do.
Indeed, when you’re a Key Grip, you’re head of a film or television production’s grip department. Reporting to the Director of Photography, you attend all pre-production meetings in order to determine what behind-the-scenes equipment — mostly cameras and lights — will be needed to make a movie or TV show. Then, on the day of filming, you orchestrate the process of assembling all that equipment and setting it up, assisted closely by your second-in-command, the Best Boy Grip.
Common Grip tasks include placing cameras, setting up dollies and cranes, moving scenery during shoots, and, under the direction of a Gaffer, setting up all lighting and lighting equipment. As the Key Grip, you delegate and oversee all these tasks and others. Often, for instance, you also manage the process of setting up the system of scaffolding, ropes, wires, and pulleys — called “rigging” — that supports the set and filming equipment (unless you’re working on an especially large production, that is, in which case there’s likely a separate department of Riggers, overseen by a Key Rigging Grip, who does exactly what you do but with rigging exclusively).
Of course, you don’t just manage equipment. You also manage people, as you’re in charge of hiring Grips, scheduling them, and supervising their job performance. At the end of the day, though, you’re most concerned with making sure the “lights” and “camera” are ready when the Director says, “Lights, camera, action!”