The G&E department on set is an integral part of the filmmaking process. They help power dynamic lighting scenes that contribute to propelling the overall storyline. They assemble and maintain support equipment for cameras, dollies, and jibs. Grips also set up stands for lights and light modifiers such as flags, rags, and cookies.
G/E stands for "Grip and Electric." The G/E department assists the gaffer while coming up with lighting solutions on set. Having a proper G/E team not only keeps your sets safe while moving quicker on set, but they also support in the creation of bringing the story to life. This month’s artist spotlight is Barbara 'Bea' Dageforde, your local G&E chick here to support all your on-set safety needs.
Bea works as a Key Grip, and says “What I do is actually a lot like construction. Except you never really build the same thing twice...and you have to get pretty creative with your solutions."
Photo by: Bea Dageforde
“It’s the G&E’s job to know how to make do with the equipment they have.
I call it mechanical creativity.”
For anyone who needs a visual into the life of a Grip, “I recommend you look at crafty or ‘shitty’ rigs to see the really ultra-low budget versions of what we do. The more money production has, the more legit your tools are. That doesn’t mean you can’t make quality content though. It’s the G&E’s job to know how to make do with the equipment they have. I call it mechanical creativity.” Bea’s gives an example, “Freshman year of college, my roommate and I bought a curtain rod that was just an inch too short, fully extended. So I found a plastic bottle cap that we taped in place and it stayed all year!”
Every department on a set should be worried about set safety, but for grip and electric, it’s a major focus. From lights rigged to the ceiling to the loose cables on the floor, to the loose cables on the floor causing a trip hazard, “We make sure all the equipment is secured in place, but also so you can’t see it on camera and still function how we need it to in the frame. It’s quite a balancing act.” she says. “Lights are also quite vital in that no lights means you can’t see anything. Though even when a movie is driven by darkness, there is someone behind that decision and likely someone on hand to control it if needed. With that being said, I totally view filmmaking as a team sport.”
Photo by: Juli del Prete From The Right Swipe.
“I like helping people find something to believe in. Especially with today’s state of everything! As an artist, I want to believe in something magical or beyond what we currently believe is possible. As a person, I think the most important thing you can believe in is yourself. Hopefully, someday I’ll come up with a story that conveys both of those messages.”
“Especially when I am working both grip and electric, I think I interact with every single department at least once,” Bea says. Though It’s mostly camera, but for example, “if makeup needs access to a generator on location or a scene requires practical lights that require a conversation with the Art Department.” In the G&E department, there’s a lot to set up, which includes some heavy and complicated pieces. It can be overwhelming for just one pair of hands to handle. “You’ll have one person holding everything in place and another person helping adjust each different part. You might even need a third person watching you or the monitor to talk you into place. In this case, clear and concise communication is most important. Make sure everyone involved is ready before you start moving, never say “got it” if you don’t. In general, I’d also say open ears are key for collaborating. It’s not eavesdropping, though. You’re listening to and observing what other departments are working on at the moment so you know if you need to come in at any point to do your part. My favorite thing is hearing someone start to ask, “Can I get a-?” and already being there with it or on my way to get it before they finish asking.”
“You get a lot more done on set when everyone is paying attention and ready to do what their own role calls for at any moment.
Photo by: Brooke Doyle from Strange Loop Studios
As a Tetris Guru, one of Bea’s favorite parts of her job is to organize the grip truck and gear staging areas. “I’m really good at Tetris and love packing. For example, I went on a two week Euro-trip with one backpack! Plus it’s important for my role to be familiar with everything we have and know exactly where it is. But ultimately, if I’m doing this it usually means everything on set is going well.” she says.
“I wanted to be a construction worker and a spy for the gadgets so it oddly all came full circle. I’ve also always been drawn to being a chick doing something people or society thought only boys could do.”
Bea believes that art is important for documenting what is happening in the world around us today. Storytelling is an impactful tool to escape reality, which is why she loves the creation process so much. “I had a big problem with daydreaming during elementary school, so I know I’ve always been imaginative. I first grew up on stories like; “Magic Tree House”, “Secrets of Droon”, “The Borrowers” and “Pippi Longstocking”, Bea says. I also watched “The Goonies”, which is my favorite movie, from very early on. When the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies came out, it was like I was seeing my zoned-out daydreams in full detail. That was the first time I realized I could create whatever world I wanted and make people believe it might actually exist.” she continued. When joining the filmmaking community, lighting wasn’t always her first choice. Lighting is one of the last things she thought she’d do since at the time it didn’t interest her. Actually, she mentioned she found it somewhat boring. “I didn’t go to film school, and I learned video production through journalism and broadcast television programs, which doesn’t really call for exciting gigs. I never even heard of a c-stand until my THIRD gig, but I quickly realized it was something I should probably at least google. Not long after, I was on a student production where the gaffer didn’t show up and they didn’t even have a grip, so I was pretty much their only option. The DP and I clicked pretty well, and as I mentioned earlier, I like gadgets. So learning about the equipment piqued my interest. Next, I gripped on a short horror film where I got to use an Arri Skypanel and got to do some really colorful lighting setups. The gaffer and DP on that project were also very patient and encouraging.
“Art and storytelling historically have been used to document, interpret/comment on, and escape from the real world. I currently support that in my work by seeking out projects that I think are important for dealing with society today. I’ve been working on a lot of female-driven and intersectional sets since last summer and it’s actually restored a lot of my faith in humanity.”
A few of Bea’s favorite key grip gigs so far are:
- The Right Swipe, Produced by Minnie Productions
- Jovan Landry’s “Synergy Cypher: Part 2” music video
- Rachel Relman’s “Kings and Queens” pilot
- Eyelash, a short horror film by Angry Mule Productions
Get in touch with Bea here: B.firstname.lastname@example.org