Here are a few tips for how to care for and deal with grip equipment on a professional film set.
Professional Grip Work
The grip department on a professional film or video production set is essentially a construction and "problem solving" department that will build, create, and bring in equipment to meet the needs of the production. This actually requires a whole series of grip equipment pieces that will be used in lighting, structuring different items, and assisting in the creation and maintenance of the set or production location. These pieces of equipment are the most numerous on set and on medium to large productions will require at least a large grip truck that will include all of this equipment. Since there are so many types of equipment and it has to be brought into the set, used in conjunction with the needs to the production, and struck and returned to the grip truck there are certain ways that the grip equipment should be dealt with.
Like with anything on a film production set, you will need to remain organized with all the grip equipment. This is especially true in conjunction with the grip truck as you will need to have all the grip equipment ready to go at all times in the truck. This means unloading and reloading the grip equipment in a specific order so that everything will remain easy to find and all materials remain accessible. This will likely mean that c-stands will be going in at a certain time, the flags and scrims will be placed in all at once, and heavier items like large sandbags and a mass of apple boxes may go in the back.
Grip equipment is not built for common use, which is to say that the needs of each production and each piece of grip equipment is going to be specific to those exact situations. This means that as stable as much of your grip equipment is, such as c-stands supporting large scale HMI lights or flags, they will not remain stable in all situations. This means that you have to be extra cautious with your grip equipment and assume that it can collapse or fall over at any moment, especially since a break in the stability of these type of heavy equipment pieces could really damage locations and hurt cast and crew. Make sure that sandbags are used on c-stands at all times and if there is any question of stability you should have crew members physically hold and stabilize them.
After each piece of grip equipment is taken off of the grip truck it should be placed into an intermediary location where it can be accessed easily. This way the key grip can have the other grips and production assistants grab things as they are needed, such as c-stands or large scrims.
Much of the grip equipment that is used can be very dangerous, especially the lights that you are dealing with. All grips using this equipment, as well as the gaffer, production assistants, and anyone else that may deal with the grip equipment, needs to make safety for themselves a priority. This means observing all safety requirements with electrical equipment, using protective gloves every time you deal with hot lights, carrying c-stands in a position that will not allow your hands to be vulnerable, and anytime you have to stand or position grip equipment in high or unstable locations you make sure that you avoid danger.
A good grip will be able to hear the needs of the production and make decisions about how to solve the problems that may show up. To do this you need to know what your grip equipment is used for, what you can do to solve problems, and any stock answers that there might be. For example, if you are seeing that background lights are blowing out the image in the camera as listed by the Director of Photography you can first put neutral density screens over the windows and then block the direct sunlight with a large flag.