Grip trucks are often associated with larger, more expensive productions, and if you are looking to move up in the production world, it always helps to know what to expect. So, whether you’re figuring out what you need for your next production or doing research to get ahead of the game, here is what you need to know about grip trucks:
What Is a Grip Truck?
If you like having all of your tools on hand and hate being caught without a part, the idea of a grip truck is absolutely wonderful. As you work on larger sets, you can expect to encounter more complex setups that will include lighting and grip departments. The grip truck is a well-organized and well-stocked portable area that allows you to find all of the different tools and parts that will help you tackle any problems that could potentially arise on set.
In reality, the grip truck may be a bit less organized than preferred, and you might need to do some digging to find the part you need- though, in the end, you will find it if you are persistent.
Benefits and Costs of a Grip Truck
Having a grip truck on set can help things go smoother by allowing the crew to quickly and efficiently tackle on-set tasks. Fortunately, acquiring a grip truck is fairly affordable, which means that you will most likely be able to afford one even for a lower-budget production.
What to Look for in a Grip Truck
Experienced grips will tell you that quantity and quality are the most important features to look for in a grip truck. When renting a grip truck, you will likely be able to choose between 1, 3, 5, and 10-ton versions.
This is probably intuitive, but the smaller the truck, the less equipment you will likely have for your shoot. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because a smaller 1 or 3-ton truck will likely work well for smaller shoots. On the other hand, if you are planning a major shoot and want to have a larger array of options, you will likely want to opt for a larger truck.
Inside a Grip Truck
Grip trucks have a variety of equipment and parts. Here’s what you can expect to find in a mid-size grip truck.
Stands are a staple of most sets, and you will definitely need several. A standard truck will include a variety of stands, including C-stands, Mini Preemie stands, Combos, Low Boy Combos, Hi-Hi Rollers, Beefy Babies, Mombo Combos, and Crank-O-Vators.
You should expect around 86 stands from a mid-size grip truck. Smaller trucks may have a smaller number and vice versa. You want to make sure that you have at least a few of the stand types that you’ll need for production.
Almost as important as stands are stand accessories, which allow stands to do exactly what is needed during production. Common stand accessories include a Platypus clamp for securing the bead board, removable turtle bases for when you need to get down to the ground, baby and junior headers for mounting multiple things on a single stand, and offset arms that add the extension you need for wider shots.
You also want to make sure that your truck has knuckles and gobo arms to easily position cloths, flags, and light fixtures. Also important are the Lollipops, which are the 4.5’’ knuckles used for on-set safety.
These are great for standing, leveling, propping, and sitting, and you will want them on pretty much every set. Apple boxes come in various sizes, including full, quarter, and eight, and are great for low-angle light fixtures.
Sandbags and Furniture Pads
Sandbags are essential for securing lights and set walls, while furniture pads are helpful in protecting equipment during transport and blocking light when needed.
Clamps and Clips
You never know when you’ll need clamps and clips on set- you just always do! From the classic C-clamps to the two-jawed Cardellini clamp and, of course, the Mafer clamp, these can be essential for mounting and securing equipment. Meanwhile, clips are great for mounting items that require a strong clamp and mounting backdrops and reflectors.
Lights and Accessories
Lighting is an integral part of any movie set, which is why most grip trucks will come with a variety of lighting options. Among the most popular is the ARRI Fresnel Series, which offers a variety of compact and lightning spotlights for small studios and interviews. The ETC Source Four is great for stages and fieldwork alike with a 750w fixture and a long throw.
Accessories such as the Grifflon are also important for light positioning, which helps ensure optimal illumination of desired areas.
Production Supplies and Miscellaneous Items
If you’ve ever been on a set, you know that there are a bunch of miscellaneous items and supplies involved. This can include stacking chairs, director’s chairs, tarps, and step ladders. Having a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher is also important for any size production.
Most grip trucks will also offer common tools like hammers, nails, screws, staple guns, brooms, WD-40, gaff tape, etc., You may not use all of these on set, but you’ll sure be glad you have them should the need arise.
Tips Renting a Grip Truck
If you need to rent a grip truck, you’ll need to decide on the size. Most rental companies will offer a variety of truck sizes. They will often list the materials available in each truck- go for the truck that has all of the materials you might need for your production. Because a grip truck is, well, a truck, you also want to make sure that either you or someone else on set is comfortable driving the larger vehicle.
- Grip trucks are a production staple, and they are pretty affordable to rent for regular and event shoots alike.
- Each grip truck has a variety of materials, with larger trucks having more.
- Opt for a truck with a good variety, and make sure to check the lists to ensure that nothing is missing.