When you’re a run and gun filmmaker, it’s important to invest in grip gear that is travel friendly. Grip gear, which refers to things like stands and flags, are the tools that help filmmakers control and shape the way light hits their scene. They’re important tools for making sure your shots look good, regardless of where you are shooting.
On big commercial productions there is typically an entire crew that handles setting up and breaking down this equipment, but if you are a run and gun filmmaker who is on the road often, a few pieces of grip gear can make a big difference in what your shots will look like.
In the video below, documentary filmmaker Luc Forsyth explains why the following six pieces of grip gear are essential for travelling filmmakers.
On a big studio shoot, the most common stand is a C-stand, but these bulky stands don’t make sense when you are on the road. A Matthews Reverse stand is a great lightweight alternative that can still hold a decent amount of weight. They weigh about three pounds, but can hold up to 11 pounds of gear, making them great for supporting the weight of a key light and a softbox.
#2 Mini Grip Mounting Kit
This grip kit from Matthews comes with two mini grip heads, two clamps and two lightweight arms. Everything is built out of a lightweight plastic to make it more travel friendly. All of the items in the kit combined weigh just under four pounds, making this a great piece of gear for the filmmaker who is spending a lot of time on airplanes to complete their projects. The tools in the kit make it easy to flag scenes or hang China balls over a scene.
#3 Water Bags
Water bags are a travel-friendly replacement for the sandbags typically found on set that help stabilize whatever equipment is mounted on your stands. Water bags work the same way that a classic sandbag does, except at the end of the shoot you can simply dump the water and fold the bag down to a compact size that won’t take up a ton of room in your equipment bag.
#4 Road Rags, Shower Curtain, Duvetyne
Here’s another travel friendly lighting solution from Matthews. Road Rags include two frames, two scrims for cutting light, a solid flag, and a silk, all tools that will help you control the intensity of your light while you are filming. When they are set up, they are about two feet by three feet, which is smaller than what you would find on a commercial set, but still large enough to be extremely useful for shaping light while doing things like filming interviews. A shower curtain and a big piece of Duvetyne also serve as great tools for shaping and controlling light. The Duvetyne will absorb light, and you can use the shower curtain to soften a light source. Both are great choices for covering large windows that might overpower a scene with harsh light.
Every filmmaker should have a few clamps handy when they are on a job. Clamps are great for hanging lighting modifiers over light sources, securing cables, holding gels, and even supporting smaller lights. They’re as versatile as gaff tape and inexpensive too.
#6 Collapsible Stool
If you are filming documentaries, you are going to spend a lot of time interviewing subjects, and it’s important that the director and the subjects have a place to sit while that’s happening. This collapsible stool can hold up to 260 pounds, has an adjustable height and when you are done filming you can simply collapse it back down. Having one of these in your gear bag means you will be prepared to interview someone in any location.
Ultimately having some basic grip equipment that is easy to travel with will help up the production value of whatever you are shooting. Plus, all of the items in this list can pack up nicely into a large travel-friendly duffle bag.