Below-the-line (filmmaking)

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"Below-the-line" is a term derived from the top sheet of a budget in films, television programmes, and commercials. The "line" in "below-the-line" refers to a separation between the actors, director, producers, and writers from the rest of the crew. One of the most unsung and common below-the-line crews is the grip, though there are several categories of grips in and of itself, such as a dolly grip, production grip, and rigging grip.

These individuals are the helpers on a television or film set, they help diffuse light with flags and C-stand on a production, helping the lighting crew, and also conduct light carpentry assisting set decorators and set designers with building walls and piecing them together. They hoist lights up on rafters and scaffolds 30 to 50 feet high in the air sometimes higher. Grips also assist the camera crew with the camera dolly on tracks, called dolly grip assuring all camera angles are smooth according to the director of photography (DP).

The head of the grip department on a film or television set is the key grip, and his assistant is called the best boy, regardless of their sex.[1] Most grips belong to a union, such as the IATSE Local 80.[2] There are also organizations available for those seeking training to teach those how to become an entry level Grip, or in any other below the line position, to advance their career in filmmaking.[3]

Some below-the-line film and television crews operate in pre-production, production, or post-production, such as an editor, who mostly works in the post-production stage, unless they are called to the set to screen dailies. The boom operator, however, is mostly onset because he or she has to pick up ambient noise, as well as dialogue when the actors are saying their lines when the camera is rolling.

The director of photography, also known as the cinematographer or DP, is a major part of the camera crew and is directly under the Director he or she is also part of the Below the Line film crew. He or she is on set most of the time and is also part of a union.[4]

Below-the-line crew[edit]

Below-the-line crew refers to everybody else including:

Most of these crafts people are considered variable cost in the budget. Meaning, if you cut a scene from the script, potentially, you don't have to build that set, or paint it or dress it, etc.


Below the Line is also the name of a Hollywood trade publication that bills itself as "The Voice of the Crew." It focuses on the production and post-production crew working on film, television, and commercial projects.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "11 Strange Movie Job Titles—Explained!". Mental Floss. April 18, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  2. ^ "IATSE Local 80". IATSE Local 80. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Below the Line Film Production Training". Socialbilitty. November 5, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  4. ^ "IATSE Local 600". IATSE Local 600. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  5. ^ DGA 2011 Basic Agreement. Los Angeles, California: Directors Guild of America. 2011. pp. 13–15. 

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