One of the most important behind-the-scenes jobs on a movie or television set is that of a film grip. Film grips are considered technical experts, and are in charge of maintaining and operating technical equipment such as dolly tracks, electrical equipment, and construction items such as scaffolds and forklifts. A Hollywood film may have several grips supervised by a key grip while an independent film may have one or two grips. Salaries for film grips are based on their specific title and role on a film or television project, union versus nonunion status and the budget of the production.
At the time of publication, the average salary for a film grip was $30,000, according to Simplyhired.com. This figure takes into account the national average. New York City and Los Angeles are the two major cities for film and television work. Outside of these cities, this work is not as prevalent. Salaryexpert.com lists the salaries for film grips in states such as Arizona, Colorado and Florida at $28,793, $28,882 and $26,812 respectively.
Best Boy Grips
The chief assistant of a key grip is the best boy grip whose job includes supervising the other grips and delegating assignments under the orders of the key grip. Best boy grips may also order supplies and equipment. Average annual salaries for best boy grips are between $50,000 and $75,000. This salary is reflective of the $25 to $28 per hour salary range for best boy grips listed in a 2000 "Chicago Tribune" article.
On a film set, the "boss" is the key grip. The average yearly salary for a key grip is $60,000 to $100,000, according to a 2006 article for Forbes.com titled "Hollywood Hard Hats." A key grip could earn as much as $400 daily, says Saddleback.edu. Union wages for key grips on movies are $39.72 hourly through Local 80's grip rates. For television projects, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sets the following rates for key grips at the time of publication: $38.56 per hour for television series or shows in their first or second year and $30.85 hourly for made-for-television movies.
On a film and television set, the dolly grip is responsible for setting up the dolly track, and then pushing and pulling the dolly track. Dolly tracks are used to give cinematographers the ability to capture images on the move. For instance, an actor running in a scene may be filmed using a dolly track. Salaries for dolly grips range from $200 to $300 per day, according to Saddleback University's "Film Production Guide."