An exclusive interview with key grip Karan vaidya on film crew importance

There has been tremendous growth in the demand and consumption of video-based content that has led to the rise of online TV companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. With easy accessibility and a plethora of options to choose from: video steaming websites like YouTube and Vimeo, social media platforms; the consumer is being exposed to high quality video content now more than ever and it’s only on the rise. The TV boom especially has given an opportunity to many aspiring filmmakers and actors to showcase their skills at a big stage. Film and Tv are relatively a very young art form and thus, the possibilities are endless. Nowadays, with good quality cameras easily available on everyone’s phones, storytelling has become easier than before. Add to this the advent of numerous editing apps that act as shortcuts to the process of film making. While these apps might be able to cheat with cinematic effect filters, there’s no replacement to the kind of value that professional filmmakers, actors and the crew adds to a project.

There’s a reason why they’re paid to do what they do and also a reason why, filmmakers spend years together on a particular screenplay. Just like an office, a film set is run by different departments in sync with each other. Those not in films are probably not aware of the different positions on set except those of directors, actors and producers. There are many critical roles on set such as Grips, ACʼs, etc. These positions are absolutely indispensable to film set. The contribution from each of these big and small roles comes together to create the end product you see in the form of a film.

One such critical position on a film set is that of a Key Grip. We were fortunate enough to talk to renowned key grip, Karan Vaidya.

Mr. Vaidya has worked acclaimed productions including: “The Farthest Apple From the Tree”, winner of Best Narrative Short Film at the 2016 Chain NYC Film Festival, the Slate Award at the 2016 California Independent Film Festival, and Short Film Award of Merit at the 2016 Accolade Competition; “YanYuan”, which was nominated for Best Short Foreign film at the 2016 International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in London, Best Short Film at the 2016 Long Island Film Festival, and Best Short Film at the 2016 Los Angeles Cinefest Film Festival among many other national and international nominations. “Reuben”, which won the Jury Prize at the 2017 Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Best Short Film at the 2017 Alaska International Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize Best Short at the 2017 Universe Multicultural Film Festival. Mr. Vaidya has also worked on various advertisements, Music videos as well as movies with great social messages like “Streetwrite”.

Q. So Karan, straight to it. What exactly is a Grip to a film set?

A. Well, simply put whenever we see behind the scene photos of film sets, we see a lot construction of equipment and fixtures which involve lighting, camera or even set design. Most of these are built by the Grip team. The grip team has to creatively come up with quick solutions and have good knowledge in all the different areas like cameras, lighting and mounting equipment.

Whether it’s a car scene chase or a simple bedroom conversation, different locations and different
Camera angles pose unique challenges every time. It’s the grip team that has to make sure all the
Necessary equipment has space to be mounted with all the necessary safety, without it being seen on camera. Being a grip requires you to have a combination of creativity, technical skills and hands-on expertise with the tools; with creativity being the most important. You might need to do something out of the ordinary or come up with interesting solutions on the spot and frankly, that’s the most Challenging and exciting part of being a part of the grip team.

Q. What are the other critical roles on set?

A. There are so many of them and each and every one of them is crucial towards production. To name a few, Gaffer, AC (assistant camera) team, DIT etc. For instance, the gaffer is the head electrician and has to make sure the right amount of power is being distributed. This is important both for safety as well as lighting the scene. The assistant camera team (ACʼs) crew fulfills all the duties regarding the camera lighting the scene. The assistant camera team (ACʼs) crew fulfills all the duties regarding the camera equipment like checking on memory, battery power, lenses etc. All these departments have to function in perfect sync for a successful shoot.

Q What is a cinematographers role in this?

A. A cinematographer’s job is making sure the director’s vision comes alive on camera. For this vision to come alive, he or she needs to communicate effectively with the relevant departments and make sure the equipment available on set is being used appropriately. The lighting, camera, set design and various other things need to be in sync with the director’s vision.

Q. Is it disheartening that most people do not know about these positions and that there are no awards or fame for the crew members?

A. The cinematographer or the movie receiving an award is definitely rewarding enough to say that all the hard work bore fruit. Movies are made for entertainment and most often the best cinematography isn’t the one which is noticed but the one which isn’t. If the cinematography helps the movie’s story, we can consider it a job well done.

Q. Even though in a nutshell, It’s great to finally understand the other roles that go behind the production of film & Tv and how critical they are. Thank you for your time here and all the time spent helping entertain us.

A. You’re very welcome. Thank you putting our stories across to people.

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