April 7, 2006
RUTHERFORD ON FILM: Figuring Out the Credits: Riggers, Grips Cinema Equivalent of Blue Collar Trades; Riggers Spotted on Fourth Avenue, Inside Student Center
By Tony Rutherford
Huntington News Network Writer
Huntington, WV (HNN) -- Anyone who sits through movie credits may have wondered, what’s a grip? A rigger? A key grip? While a quick answer might be a blue collar laborer, the positions have cinematic distinctions.
While rigging lights for a scene to be shot inside the Memorial Student Center, Frank Ryan, who has for the last 16 years worked as ‘grip,’ ‘key grip,’ ‘rigger’ ‘dolly grip’ and ‘best boy.’
“A grip works the set [during the filming]; he controls the light,” Ryan explained. “Riggers are behind the grip doing multi light rigging and all the mounts for the electricians.”
Other behind-the-scenes personnel include a gaffer (chief electrician or lighting technician) and ‘best boy’ (the gaffer’s assistant). Both work for the director of photography. The ‘key grip’ is the person in charge of all the crew who move the equipment around on the set.
Ryan has worked on such films as “Heat,” “Nell,” “Showgirls,” “The Crow,” and “Super Mario Brothers.” He just completed “The List,” a thriller featuring Malcolm McDowell and Will Patton set for a 2007 release and “My Life in Idyllwild,” a musical set at a speakeasy in the South during Prohibition.
Although the funeral scene at the cemetery was closed, Ryan offered a slice of trivia: One of the cars was used at the funeral of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. “It’s refrigerated [and] looks like a casket vehicle,” Ryan said. “It carried the flowers at JFK’s funeral.”
Again, the grips/riggers work on a freelance basis traveling around the country “from show to show wherever they tell me to go.”
His destinations have included numerous smaller towns and in one respect Huntington residents are like those in any other city --- they are looking for stars. “They seem very interested in Matthew McConaughey, especially all the girls.” Still, he sees bystanders who come to the sets to “remember the fact that this actually happened.”
Riggers on Thursday, April 6, 2006, continued sprucing up Fourth Avenue by testing the newly repaired “The Frederick” lights, scrubbing the top of the marquee, and washing some of the windows.
Fourth Avenue filming of “We Are Marshall” comes next week with scenes shot inside and outside of the Keith Albee, including a planned stop at George’s Tailoring which is located in the Huntington Arcade.