Published on May 8th, 2014 | by SgtKaiju0
The Craft Service – What We All Do
In this ongoing series, The Craft Service, I’m going to be looking at films but from a view behind the camera, looking at the trends and techniques that make the films we all know. This week, what we all actually do…
Anyone who has sat through the credits of a modern film will testify that they are filled with many odd and archaic jobs, with no real explanation of what they are. But fear no longer gentle reader, I’m here to explain what all those strange titles actual mean!
1. Best Boy
Ah, the Best Boy, very often the poster child for strange film jobs. In truth there are actually two roles that could be labelled Best Boy: Best Boy Grip and Best Boy Electric. Essentially they are the first assistant to the Electric or Grip department heads, the term dating back to traditional apprentice days, when the oldest and most experience apprentice was known as the Best Boy. What is a Grip you cry? Well that leads nicely into the next one on the list…
Grips are very often the unsung heroes of many a film set. Essentially if any thing needs moving, Grips do it. If anything needs holding, Grips do it. They are the muscle of a working film set. You’ll get Camera Grips, SFX Grips, Lighting Grips, Dolly Grips (who push and pull the camera dolly above) and so on. If a film crew is a body, the grips are its hands.
The Chief Electrician. Not an electrician in the usual senses of the word, but responsible for implementing the lighting design of the Cinematographer, the name comes from their initial use of a Gaff (Large pole. Hook on end) to move and aim overhead lights. They tend to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of esoteric light bulbs and carry several thousand sheets of coloured plastic wherever they go.
One of the most fun jobs on a film crew and ideally one of the least noticed, Foley Artists create all the little sound effects that fill out a film sound-scape. Need the noise of someone walking down a wet driveway in heels? They will put on heels, wet some gravel and record it. Need the sound of a alien death scream? They will punch jelly in a tin can whilst wearing boxing gloves. Good Foley will make a film sound so much better and you’ll never even know it was there.
5. Python Wrangler
A member of the sound department who’s main job is the lay the cables around the set. It’s a joke, see?
6. Swing Gang
The Swing Gang is a part of the set dressing team who work apart from the rest of the crew because they are the ones who are setting up a set to be shot on or taking down a set once it’s been wrapped. They tend to come to work as the rest of us are going home, stripping down the builds and putting a new one in place. They are also responsible for any non-permanent (or ‘swing’) sets during shooting.
7. Second AC
The 2nd AC is notable in that they are very often the only member of the camera crew ever seen; they look after the clapper board. The information written on the board (Date, Camera Roll, Scene, Take) is paramount to the editor and tracking that shot through the whole process. Very often one of the more junior members of the camera team.
As the film industry switched over to digital against traditional film, many productions got lost amid the sea of bewildering technology available, thus leading to the rise of the DIT, or Digital Imaging Technician. On set they are responsible for the flow of the data from the camera to the editors, often also working with the Cinematographer to allow them to make digital colour changes whilst shooting. As the tech progresses and the whole film lab process goes digital on set, the DIT is a slowly dying role on larger productions.
9. Line Producer
As opposed to other kinds of Producer (Executive, Associate, C0, etc), the Line Producer is usually the one actually on set fixing things. They are responsible of all the crew on set and dealing with any issues that arise. A good Line Producer is like a parent to the whole production, nurturing when needed and kicking arses when also needed.
10. Craft Service
The most important part of ANY film set and the department from which this column takes it’s name, Craft Service is the fuel in the engine of a movie. It is a 24hr free snack and coffee bar. They can range from simply a table with a kettle and some biscuits all the way up to a food truck making smoothies and Mini-Beef Wellington (We had those on Gravity. It was the best). An army marches on its stomach and a film crew is as close to that as you can without killing people. If you ever make it onto a set, go check them out.
See you next week folks!