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The Duties of a Dolly Grip

Dolly grip and camera on a boom for an indoor event

Movie and television crews encompass a wide variety of roles, with some often being overlooked. Although some may seem obscure, there are positions that make viewers curious.

One of those roles happens to be the dolly grip. Although its name may sound funny, being a dolly grip is no joke. In fact, it’s one of the more physically and mentally taxing jobs one can have on-set. Being a dolly grip comes with a particular set of tasks that have to be accomplished in order for the whole shoot to be a success.

The Duties of a Dolly Grip

To begin with, a dolly is a wheeled cart or machine that has a camera mounted to it. Most dollies weigh 500 pounds, and are built to move along a track that allows to get a moving shot. In addition, there are dollies that come equipped with a hydraulic arm or “boom” in addition to the other camera mounted on it.

The dolly grip operates the dolly during the shoot, with the camera operator and an assistant riding atop it to get the tracking shots. In addition, dolly grips put the track together for the shots. They may also mount the camera in addition to moving the dolly as needed. Having a successful dolly setup allows crews to replicate the same camera movement for a number of takes.

A Physical Role as Dolly Grip

The physical work of a dolly grip cannot be overstated, beginning with track construction. In the past, tracks were made of aluminum and steel and the job was much more physical. Luckily there’s been advancements to make that part of the job a bit easier. For example, modern flexible rubber and plastic tracks are now used in production. These are in demand with both independent productions and student filmmakers alike.

Dolly Grips and Production

Lastly, the dolly grip helps in production shoots. The dolly grip works in sync with the camera operator and assistant for every scene of the production. For dollies with booms, this trio has to make sure they achieve the shot they want. This is especially true if there is no dolly present at all. For example, some shoots have the dolly grip serve as a guide if the camera operator is utilizing a body-mounted camera tool. In this case, the camera is held in the operator’s hands during shooting or fixed in a position on the shoulders in a harness.

Most importantly, the dolly grip ensures marks that are set up are reached on every shot.

Consistency for Dolly Grips

Dolly grips ensure that the dolly moves at a consistent speed. This is crucial because sliding past the mark means that there isn’t a consistent speed. This also means that the camera operator will be off, and in addition–affects the shot’s focus.

With that in mind, it is highly important that the dolly grip works to be on the same page with the camera operator. Once that’s taken care of, the grip develops a kind of “touch” that allows them to constantly help get that quality shot even when unforeseen circumstances pop up.

It’s in the Details

Another key asset is to have a good demeanor and a keen sense of detail and organization. Dolly grips who have these qualities have proven to be highly reliable at times do have the chance to move up in rank with different productions. In addition to this, many appreciate the experience and often times remain in that same role adding their special touch to film and TV productions.

Want to Learn More?

Does the challenges of being a dolly grip on set spark a further interest in filmmaking for you? If so, take some time to look at the possibilities of learning more about this position and others through the Digital Video Production programs offered at IPR today.

Contact us today to learn more about the Digital Video and Media Production associate and bachelor’s degree. Starting a rewarding career as an associate producer is closer than you may think!