Tag Archive for: documentary


Katie Gail Smith is a dedicated grip from the Denver market and has been an active member of the freelance film community for over 6 years. After transitioning from stage lighting, she’s worked on national commercials for top Fortune 500 companies, popular television shows, and feature films. Katie gaffed her first feature, Army & Coop in 2016, and is due to gaff her second, A Girl Like Me, coming in July.



Show Notes

Katie Gail Smith, The Grip Girl

[0:49] Katie’s personal background

  • Born in Fredericksburg, TX
  • How Katie ended up in Colorado

[1:23] What is a grip?

[3:00] How Katie got started on her career path

  • Got her degree in Theater Arts to pursue a career in Shakespearean acting
  • Went back to school at Colorado Film School to pursue cinematography

[9:31] The virtues of Tyler Martin

[12:57] What does it take to be a grip?

[14:24] Discussion of upcoming trends in lighting, and comparison between various lights

[17:27] Katie’s take on the merits of film school and networking

Grips do it better in Colorado

[20:30] How Katie started working in the industry, and how freelancers get work

  • “If someone recommends you …”
  • “Fake it until you make it” as a segue into furthering your skillset

[23:04] Why live in Denver? Where does the work come from in this market?

  • “Colorado is wonderful, the people here are wonderful, it’s beautiful here, I love the weather.”

[24:30] Discussion about the quality of life in Colorado versus other markets

  • The quality and varying types of work, especially in documentary filmmaking, has a great appeal

[26:57] How Katie deals with travel

  • How it can impact relationships
  • The support available in the film community

[28:40] Discussion of in-state vs. out-of-state work

  • The importance of networking
  • Examples of being flexible in your duties can helpPushing people around all day on a dolly is how a grip stays in shape

[31:38] How do you plan for slow times?

[33:21] Part-time work

[37:00] Recent and current work

[40:21] The perfect job…

[43:20] When things go wrong…

[46:24] When things go really, really right…

[48:40] Mentors

[51:07] The best books

[55:25] The best advice ever received

[57:02] The best advice for someone wanting to become a grip

[59:59] The best lessons from the past year, and over Katie’s career


Links and Resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Jacob is an award-winning Colorado fillmmaker, a former mayor, and a former U.S. senate staffer. His films include a family short called Chasing Rabbits, and the feature documentary Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution, which is currently in national and international distribution. He's also the executive director of a local government coalition advocating for stronger climate policy in Colorado.

Show Notes

[1:09] Jacob's Background

  • Grew up as a military brat, settled in Aurora, CO in middle school
  • Currently lives in Golden, CO

[2:16] Jacob's career path in environmental advocacy and politics

[5:25] Senator Bernie Sanders and Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution

[9:00] The evolutionary process of budgeting when making a film

[14:59] “Making money” on a documentary; documentaries vs. narratives

[18:40] Getting access to characters for a documentary

[22:28] Building trust

[27:15] Utilizing referrals and taking chances with different location crews

[29:46] The difference a good editor and color correctionist can make

[30:47] Judging production length

[33:47] Thoughts on distribution

[36:31] A few different ways to offer screenings

[38:37] Working with distributors

[44:23] Where the most of the budget goes

[49:43] Mistakes were made

[54:30] Dancing on the Elephant

[57:26] Budgeting for a narrative feature

[1:00:33] Requirements for the investors

[1:05:00] Doing things differently with distribution for Dancing on the Elephant

[1:09:44] The costs of hiring locally in different locations

[1:14:24] The biggest “AHA” moments

[1:18:25] Jacob's biggest reaffirmation in the last year

[1:19:29] Jacob's biggest life lesson

[1:22:21] Advice for other aspiring filmmakers


Links and Resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!