Grip gear is a necessary part of filmmaking. You won’t be able to get your equipment mounted properly (and safely) without an array of stands, clamps and other tools. It can also be very heavy.
Working in a studio the weight and size of all this gear isn’t too much of a problem. However, if you are working on location as a run-and-gun filmmaker you’ll be unlikely to bring all the normal stands and sandbags you would normally want.
For a breakdown of some of the best grip equipment you might need as a more mobile filmmaker there is a nice video from Luc Forsyth with some of his picks.
Looking at stands you have C-stands as the standard. Those weigh around 20 lb each and you’ll want a few of them. That’s not workable for travel.
Smaller, lighter stands are important to a mobile grip kit.
Luc’s pick here are the Matthews Reverse Stands. They weigh only 3 lb and can hold up to 11 lb. This is enough for smaller lights like an Aputure 300d without any issue.
The reverse stand design makes it so that they fold in on themselves which makes them shorter when folded. Luc also says that they have held up to plenty of real-world shoots without any issue.
Alongside C-stands, the next most important piece of grip equipment are grip heads and arms. These allow you to mount lights and modifiers in very specific, yet secure positions. They are also very heavy.
Matthews has a solution for that as well with the lighter Minigrip Mounting Kit. The shaved down on weight by using plastic instead of metal, but it has held up for years without fail.
This will make all your equipment way more versatile. Plus, it is small and light enough to actually bring with you.
Sandbags are a common feature on film sets because they do a very good job of keeping things secure by weighing them down. Obviously, sand is heavy and impractical to travel with.
Using bags or cases is a potential solution, but the better one is using water bags. It is almost the same as a sandbag except instead of holding sand it has a bladder that you can fill with water.
Water is good and heavy, but the bags can be filled and emptied so that you can travel light and still have a solid foundation when you get to your location.
To work with light you’ll need an array of modifiers to control it. Bringing an entire set of modifiers and diffusers is impractical, so you’ll be looking to pare down for travel.
Matthews again has come to the rescue with their RoadRags II Kit. This features two collapsible 24 x 36” frames along with scrims, silk, and a case to pack it all in.
The frames work like tentpoles and so can be easily broken down but they are smaller than the usual. This is workable for run-and-gun filmmaking and is better than not bringing anything.
For bigger light sources you may want to pack away a basic white shower curtain and a roll of duvetyn. The shower curtain will work as a standard diffuser while the duvetyn is just black, light-absorbing cloth for flagging.
You’ll always need clamps around and they are immensely helpful. Everyone should pick up a ton of A-clamps of varying sizes around. Hanging stuff up, securing cables, mounting gels, or even mounting an occasional accessory are possible with these clamps.
World’s Greatest Stool
Last on the list isn’t your usual grip equipment – it’s a portable and collapsible stool! This can be a lifesaver on set. You never know your situation and the need to have someone, including yourself, take a seat at some point on location is high. Even if seating isn’t necessary, it could save a lot of energy to nail a take.
The best part about this equipment is that it will last forever since it doesn’t go out of date like your electronics. Invest early and be happier.
Do you have any grip equipment you would add to this list?
[source: Luc Forsyth]
- Matthews Reverse Stand (B&H)
- Matthews Minigrip Mounting Kit (B&H, Amazon)
- Westcott HurleyPro H2Pro Weight Bag (B&H, Amazon)
- Matthews RoadRags II Kit (B&H, Amazon)
- Impact Steel Spring A-Clamp (B&H)
- Portable & Collapsible Stool (B&H, Amazon)
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