by James Reid, correspondent covering film
When we go to the movies we normally skip out after the credits start rolling. If you have ever used the website International Movie Database you'll notice there is a lot more work that goes into a film than just the people in front of the camera. The sound, visual effects, photography, directing, editing and more are just as important to the entire process as the actors who are arguably just pretending to be someone else. When discussing this with a friend I was informed that we never talk about more labor heavy components of the filmmaking process. Through a collection of articles I thought I'd share with you the reader brief descriptions of the process and the people who help craft it.
Photography is the process which helps create the aesthetic of a film, whether it be through the shots, color scheme or even tinting of the film stock itself. These abstract aspects of cinema are juxtaposed together thanks to a collection of crew members who work during the production to give the viewer the best cinematic experience.
The chief among these crew members in the Cinematographer. This is the person who is also referred to as the Director of Photography. When you see a cool shot in a movie, like a victim in a horror movie looking up towards the killer that is due to the decision making of the cinematographer. They are also in charge of the lighting. The cinematographer will have a say in who is hired as camera operators, key grips , and camera assistants
Camera operators are those individuals who help to block the set when the Director of Photography is getting a shot ready. It is their duty to make sure the shot goes well technically. They are assisted by the assistants. They pull focus, load the film stock, change the filters, and maintain all accessories. They are the only ones seeing what is being recorded so they are in charge of making sure it translates into the director's vision.
Key grips are those in charge of both the camera and lighting rigging for the production. While he doesn't handle the lights themselves or the camera he is in charge of the crews that work to set up the equipment. For example if the DP wants smooth movement in a shot he will make sure his crew sets up a dolly track. He will work with the gaffer to supervise the location of equipment needed to change the impact of light and create shadow. He is in charge of the best boy grip
Next up are the gaffers also known as the chief electric technician. The gaffer is essentially the foreman of the electrical crew on the set of a film. They work from the storyboards, shot list, or shot breakdown to create the perfect lighting scheme for a shot. They work directly under the director of photography. They also have the job of using gels and other reflective equipment to change the color temperature and intensity of light. He has a best boy who helps him.
Another type of grip is the best boy grip. This is the person who supervises the grip crew on behalf of the key grip. He is essentially a proxy for the key grip when it comes to supervising and delegating labor on the set. He must also have knowledge of the equipment and set up that is needed for production.
A second best boy is also in charge of the electric. This is the person who is in charge of making sure all equipment and personnel are on set, in terms of the lighting crew. Where as the gaffer directs his crew, the best boy is the supervisor.
There are also lesser known grips. These are general positions. More often than not they are either a dolly grip or a crane operator. They work under the key grip or best boy.
The dolly grip is simply the grip in charge of making sure the dolly track is set up. He is also the person tasked with pushing the dolly down the track during the shooting of a scene.Just as the dolly grip is in charge of the dolly track and pushing the dolly, The crane operator is the person in charge of operating the filming crane during shots that need one.
In conclusion it is important to note that the amount of camera workers vary based on the size of a project. According to the Internet Movie Database, Endgame had 207 camera and electrical department staffers. In contrast, Parasite, the movie which won the latest Best Picture title, had 21 people listed under camera and electrical. The industry can’t thrive without every one of its components, and it photography is just one example.