Making Movie Magic: A Career Profile of...

Making Movie Magic: A Career Profile of Motion Picture Grips and Set-Up Workers

by Anthony Teles
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Trips to the movie theatre are journeys to another world. We get lost in stories of romance and adventure that can make us laugh and cry. The magic of film only happens because of a team effort. Actors, directors, and screenwriters all play critical roles. But there are many more people involved in this magic act. Behind the scenes, there are individuals working hard to prepare the scenes written in the screenplay and performed on by the actors. These people are the grips and set-up workers who make it all possible.

Grips and set-up workers are the ones who build, maintain, and work on equipment and cameras used by filmmakers. They have a long and arduous to-do list of various tasks, such as having to assist electricians with the lighting on the set or handling carpentry needs for tables and other furniture. Grips and set-up workers carry out their jobs by working with the Director, Camera Operator, and Director of Photography. They get to experience the euphoria of bringing art to life and stories to the big screen. It is the perfect job for someone who loves working in a team and with their hands. However, the career also necessitates a great deal of physical strength and a willingness to work long 16-hour days. It is not for everyone, but it is extremely rewarding.

Support occupations in film and scenic constructors make a median hourly wage of $22.15 in Canada. This can range from $14 all the way up to $32. Although there is not a heavy demand for these workers, the pay can often be on the higher end of that range as they are often union jobs. There is also no formal education necessary to pursue this career path. Most individuals are expected to have completed secondary school and can learn what is needed on the job under the guidance of senior workers. Completing college courses in broadcasting or theatre arts can help give you an advantage over your competition in finding your first jobs in this industry.

The industry can be extremely competitive, but you can start by gaining all the hands-on experience you can find. This may be volunteer work or as part of a college program. Looking ahead, many people who pursue this path are able to find opportunities to climb the career ladder into other positions. You can move into a supervisor role or into a more specialized trade. By working on different films and sets, you can meet many people and grow your network. This will help you find even more jobs and climb your way up the career ladder.

Working as a motion picture grip or set-up worker is not a laid-back career choice. You will need to be ready for long hours, immense physical work, and an irregular schedule. But this is all part of the hard work that occurs behind the scenes to bring us the magic we experience in the theatre. If you are passionate about film and feel this is the career path for you, start by learning all you can about what happens behind the camera. Practice carpentry and other skills used on sets, and volunteer wherever you can for film and theatre productions. With a lot of hard work and a positive attitude, you can be a part of the magic that is the movies.


Creative Skillset. “Grip.” http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/3789_grip

Job Bank. “Scenic Constructor.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/5623/22437

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