Develop carpentry and mechanic skills, get a job in the entertainment industry, and work in the grip department for a few years to become a key grip. Behind-the-scenes work on entertainment productions such as movies, television shows, theater productions, and concerts is performed a key grip. He oversees a team of grips and best boys and is in charge of the grip department. Jobs in the entertainment industry are typically scarce but in high demand, so a career as a key grip in the industry necessitates a certain level of perseverance and ingenuity.
Key grips begin their careers as grips or best boys in a production’s grip department. Unlike a regular job, each entertainment vehicle, such as a film or television show, functions as its own entity. This means that grips aren’t hired a single company and then assigned to various job sites. A grip is hired for a specific production, and once that production is completed, he must apply for another. To advance as a key grip, you’ll need to apply for work on productions on a regular basis, aiming to improve the quality of your assignments while gaining experience and moving up the ranks.
There is no minimum educational requirement to work as a key grip, but as with any job, having a high school diploma is recommended. The camera and lighting equipment for a production are managed key grips, who are craftsmen and inventors. Camera cars, cranes, tracks, dollies, set walls, lights, tripods, microphones, rigging, and scaffolding are all moved, placed, and modified a grip. In jobs like carpentry, electrical, mechanical, and rigging, functional skills are the most important attribute. Any formal training or certification in those areas will benefit your candidacy.
Most film schools include the grip position in their curriculum. Enrolling in an undergraduate film or film trade school is another way to gain the technical skills needed to become a key grip. Because the position requires a lot of hands-on experience, the most practical way to get started is to apply to work on small, independent productions and work your way up.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to securing a job as a grip and progressing to key grip, especially since every production is a blank slate for which you must apply from scratch. There are some standard places to look for work, such as contacting film commissions in different jurisdictions to see when productions are scheduled to film and keeping an eye on entertainment trade publications. Once you’ve been accepted into the union, you might be able to advance your career through the ranks. The single most important factor in your ability to find work as a grip and eventually become a key grip will be your ability to network.