Taylor Bickel asked:

What makes a great key grip?

The factors that make a great key grip are the same for all crewmembers; most of them are intangible.  Assuming the individual is proficient with their tools, techniques and procedures, I’d place emphasis on the following (in no particular order):

– sober and mature
– a clear thinker
– honest and straightforward
– passionate about what they do, which is reflected in a positive, can-do attitude
– a pleasant personality
– punctual
– good powers of anticipation
– inventive; ready to propose new ideas or ways of doing something
– always seeks the simplest solution to a problem
– when necessary, is not afraid to challenge or disagree with the boss (civilly, of course)
– fast
– a good leader and manager of their subordinates
– doesn’t complain when the going gets tough
– always keeps the broader scheme in mind
– safety conscious
– a generous collaborator with the other departments

I’m sure I’m missing a few items, but perhaps the most important of all? A sense of humor!

Russ Alsobrook asked:

If you could talk to any DP who now sits in his set chair in Heaven, who would it be?

That’s a good question, Russ!  I suppose I’d most like to speak to Billy Bitzer, D.W. Griffith’s cinematographer.  I’d love to hear what it was like at the dawn of the medium…during the real Wild West days. Gregg Toland might be a tight second. In addition to grilling him on the making of Citizen Kane, I’d like to hear about his exploits in the Navy during WW2. He served with John Ford’s Field Photo Unit and is credited as the director of the documentary, ‘December 7’, which I understand was quite the deal in the making.  He had a short life but it was filled with amazing experiences.



  1. The last sentence of the reply to Taylor is one of the first things I look for in any crew member. Without a sense of humor you’re doomed in this business.

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