How to Rent and Load a Grip Truck - OFFICIAL DISCUSSION


For every filmmaker, a key element of production is working with outside vendors, especially rental houses for production equipment. In this video, Gaffer Dominic D’Astice and our friends at Illuminar do a quick run through of the rental process, including the proper way to check gear and load up a grip truck. The truck we used for the demonstration is known as a cube truck and is a well-known fixture on many medium to large-sized productions.

We hope this lesson gives you a basic introduction into working with rental houses, proper etiquette, safety protocols, and a general familiarity with the grip truck! Even if it’s your first time in grip or electric, our goal is to give you a leg up on that experience. Stay tuned for a follow-up focusing on grip & electric gear!

Special thanks to James Barker and Daniel Terry at Illuminar for letting us shoot in their space! Check them out HERE.

Questions for us about the video? Ask below!




Very nice!

Some notes:

Depending on package/production size, you might want to schedule a full prep day (10 hours) or half day (5) for one or two people. This should be the Bestboy and one other. If you have a really green person on the griptician crew, they could be the second. This will give them a chance to familiarize themselves—the FNG will be a lot more useful on day one if they know how the truck is packed and where everything is (and what it’s called).

Prep day is also the day to cut gels for the lights, making sure each head has its own color correction gels ready to go in the scrim bag/box. ID the gel in the corner w/ a sharpie, example: Full CTB
Diffusion goes on the frames (if snot tape isn’t already in the expendable order, the rental house will sell you some). ID the difusión on the BOTTOM of the frame on both sides of the handle, i.e., where you can see it on the cart.

If you are going to be flying a big frame (10’-20’), make sure you have enough 40 lb sandbags to weigh the stands down and have bullpricks and strong rope (not sash) for windy days. You do not want a 20’x frame flying around loose.

Regarding the video, I think some folks might benefit if you showed them how to maneuver carts onto and off of the gate!


FYI y’all we’re gonna try to do a follow-up at the rental house just going through vocab, so if you don’t know what a stinger or lunchbox or whatever is, hopefully that’ll help!


I’m really glad to have this added information when it comes to the various equipment going into any project. I can honestly say that I had no idea that there were places to rent all of this stuff from. I feel rather silly for not knowing it either. I guess my only question is what are our options if we need the equipment, but there isn’t a place to rent it from nearby? I don’t know how common places like this are outside of California, and I might just being asking a dumb question, but I guess it might help to know some alternatives on the off chance we aren’t able to look into renting the necessary grips we need for our projects.


@Dom can answer that, when he gets the chance!


When I had to train FNGs (there’s always a grip PA or electric PA or a Grip/Electric PA on a low budget shoot—or worse, your whole crew), I’d make them read catalogs, like these:

This is a good way to learn the terminology quickly. Also, this is not just for hammers and juicers. Producers should have at least a passing familiarity with these terms.

Here’s the catalog page for Matthews. Instead of the actual catalog it has a request form.

Download the PDFs and keep them on your phone.


The first thing I would do is see if

is in your area and if there is equipment avala I le in your area. (They are not in my area/country, so I’m at of luck.)

Next, I’d search for small “owner/operators” and hire them/their equipment. An owner operator is a guy (or gal) with a lighting and/or grip package that might be large or small, depending. They might have a cube van or truck. They might be willing to make a deal if business is slow. Generally you negotiate their day rate and their package rate at the same time—this can be a good way to shift numbers around on your budget (from payroll to rental or vice versa). Also, they might already have a relationship with the nearest rental house and can sub rent whatever they don’t already have. If they are far away you might have to pay for travel time and/or a motel.

The nice thing about owner/operators is that they are much more open to negotiation than rental houses. They have more flexibility. Another nice thing, especially if you have an inexperienced or low experience crew, is that they (should) know what they are doing.

Another thing, similar to the owner/operator, is other production companies that might own equipment.

Lastly, you can find the nearest rental house, find a truck rental near them, and just go there, rent the truck, rent the kit, and drive back.

If it’s a very small kit, you might be able to have it shipped. Call the rental house and ask about options. Ask if they ever ship by bus (greyhound or whatever).

As for me, I’ve found someone locally (through friends/word of mouth) that happens to own a few lights and a small insert stage (in other words, a big room with 25’ ceilings). I found a production company that rents some of their gear in a nearby city (a half hour away). I’m about to go exploring Mexico City for their rental houses (or I will after the upcoming production wraps).

Explore your options and compare numbers. Less complicated arrangements are good, but do what’s you have to do.


Awesome, awesome advice.


How to maintain the Flags, diffusers, and floppy and how to clean up the diffusion frames if they dusted and dirty ? is there a proper solution to clean and maintain them properly ? Thanks :slight_smile:


Back when I was in school we used to check everything for all of our orders, even seeing if the cables were working, light fixtures striking, stands not broken, etc. This is usual because our school’s equipment center wasn’t the best or had the best workers either.

Now in my freelancing career I always wondered, is it generally impolite to be checking every single thing on your order at a rental place? Such as, checking rags aren’t torn, lights striking, dimmers working, etc. I usually see big shows pull up and just load up with out testing anything. Would it depend on your experience with the rental company, or mainly trust with them?


I check everything. 1) You don’t want to get billed (or have your client get billed) 2) you don’t want to pull out equipment at a crucial moment and have it be nonfunctional.

The rental facility shouldn’t begrudge you this. Just be quick and efficient. If you find a small tear in a silk or net, make a note of it and have the rental house employee make a note on her paperwork. That doesn’t mean reject the equipment for something tiny (although you can and should if it’s a bad tear or your project is longer than a weekend).

The big orders can be different. 1) The rental house want to maintain a good rep with their big clients—the rental house will make sure everything is in good condition. 2) Big productions have an L&D budget. 3) Big productions aren’t sweating the deductible. That said, you can bet the Best Boy(s) are going through all the equipment when it arrives.