A film technician who works in the camera or grip and electric (G&E) department is known as a dolly grip. They’re in charge of positioning and moving the camera dolly, a wheeled device on which the camera and camera operators are mounted for specific shots. Any bump or jiggle can ruin a shot, so the dolly grip is essential for maintaining smooth movements in dolly shots.
Depending on the style and type of shots required, dolly grips may have multiple jobs on a shoot. A dolly track, a metal grid laid out similarly to a train track on which the dolly is placed, is used in some dolly shots. If a track is needed, the grip might be in charge of laying it out according to the shot specs and pulling the dolly across the tracks.
The camera crew is reliant on the dolly grip’s ability to hit predetermined stopping and starting marks. A focus puller must manually adjust the focus of the lens as the camera moves on the dolly to keep the shot clear. The shot may be out of focus if a dolly grip goes past their ending mark. Although colored tape or other indicators can sometimes be used to help the grip start and stop correctly, many dolly grips develop an intuitive sense of where and when to stop.
For certain shots, some dollies come with a mechanic or hydraulic arm that can be attached to the camera. The dolly grip is frequently assigned to operate the arm rather than a member of the camera crew. The grip may be required to not only move the arm but also to pull or push the cart in some cases.
A dolly grip may still find work as a spotter for the camera man if no dolly is used for handheld or Steadicam work. Typically, they will direct the camera operator around any obstacles, preventing them from tripping and exposing them to anything that could damage the shot or injure themselves or the actors. While other technicians can perform this function, the dolly grip’s ability to move fluidly and accurately assess distances makes them an invaluable asset to this type of camera work.
Dolly grips have a distinct skill set that necessitates extensive training and experience. As a result, good dolly grips are typically in high demand and well compensated. If you’re thinking about becoming a film technician, the world of the dolly grip provides a good balance of camera and G&E work, and can be both creatively and financially rewarding.