Inside the Grip Bag

Like most working professionals, I carry around a lot of gear on jobs. There’s all the obvious stuff – cameras, lenses, flashes, stands and so on, all of which get talked about a great deal by all and sundry. What I feel are often overlooked are the almost countless little bits and pieces, without which I’d soon come unhinged. Many of these are not even officially camera gear, but are simply generic tools that I press into service all the time.  These bits all live in my Grip bag.

Inside the Grip Bag
The contents of my grip bag, all neatly laid out on my living room table. Click on the pic for the flickr page where things are shown in more detail.

This bag probably comes out of the boot 4th, depending on what I’m doing. The camera bag’s always out first (I’m clever like that), then 1 of the 2 stand bags, then 1 of the 2 lighting bags, closely followed by the grip bag. I also pilfer it regularly for little bits and pieces when I don’t think I’ll need the whole bag.

I call it a grip bag, as grip is the term used in the film industry to cover anything used to attach one thing to another, usually the camera to a car or similar platform. Since so much of this stuff is clamps, cables, straps and cordage it seems appropriate. Plus, a grip is the guy who manhandles the camera around the place on a film set, and I identify with that a lot! And lastly, I call it a grip bag, as it sounds better than “tool bag” and I’m a geek like that.

Whilst lots of this gear has fairly straightforward uses, why I carry some of it may not be quite so obvious, so here are a few occasions when this gear has helped out enormously:

  • The poncho has been used to clear dew off shots first thing in the morning, as well as being used earlier this week whilst I was doing Survival Training with the SAS to keep my gear dry. It’s big brother is often used for luxury purposes as well.
  • The visi vest is one of the best disguises known to man. Thinking back to my assisting days, I was working on a shoot where we had to get shots of one of the first electric cars in the City of London. Normally this would require permits and a whole host of hassle. Instead we slipped on some visi vests and set about parking it in front of various banks, up on pavements and so on. Everyone presumes that a person wearing a visi vest is supposed to be there!
  • The plumbers smoke has been called in a few times, and although it’s not safe for human consumption if used in a small space, I’ve used it to simulate a smoking engine, as well as some fog on a winter’s day.
  • I used the safety cables last summer to string my hammock between 2 trees. Much easier than tying various knots.
  • About a month back most of the tools were called in (particularly the allen keys) when we had to build an olympic exercise bench on a shoot. Something that we presumed would be a flat surface and a couple of legs turned out to be something IKEA would be proud of writing the instructions for.

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