I had a distressed Art PA email me the other day whom I’ve never met, but is a member of our Facebook Art Department group, asking me if I knew of any tutorials or online demonstrations on how to tie a knot- the proper knots used when loading cube trucks including the slipknot, the bowline knot and the trucker’s hitch knot. It’s sad to say but this email brought me much warm and tingly happiness.
Why did this persons ever-so-slight despair make me so happy?
In the film industry we are constantly loading trucks with ridiculously expensive and fragile things and then unloading them as quickly and efficiently as we can without breaking anything. Everything must be packed and padded well with sound blankets and the like and then tied down good and tight but also have the ability to untie it all at a moments notice.
There are rigging points in any truck and you start with a slip knots of sash cord all along the rails. During load-in you then tie everything down as required with the bowline knot and trucker’s hitch knot. Simple as that: Slip Knot, Bowline Knot, Trucker’s Hitch Knot.
It is amazing how many people screw this up.
I was one of those people.
On my very first commercial as an Art PA everything went swimmingly. We were on schedule and in fact, it looked like we were going to finish early for the day. This is why the set decorator, let’s call her Brenda, told me to start loading the first location as they were onto the exterior now. As I am finishing tying down the bulk of these large scale toys, it starts pouring rain out of nowhere.
One of the other set dressers comes running towards the truck, “They’ve added new shots, mostly inserts, to wait out the rain. We need the rocking horse, the dollhouse, and the teddy bear ASAP.” I, of course, in my utter inexperience look at her for a minute like an idiot and then slowly and inefficiently try and get to them. The other set dresser starts digging through to help me. Then comes Brenda running in the rain soaking wet looking incredibly angry. By this time the other set dresser had found the items in the truck.
Brenda yells, “What in the bloody hell is taking so long?”, and jumps in.
“She did overhand knots! I can’t get them out!”, the other set dresser told her.
She turns her head towards me, “What are you? TWO!” Brenda continues to berate me as they finally unleash the toys together and get them to set.
I will never forget the venom in her voice as she said this to me. After all, she knew I was green when she hired me so I was very upset she would speak to me like this. It’s not exactly like everyone’s running around telling you the importance of tying the perfect knot. And it was a commercial! They probably wouldn’t even use the shots– which they didn’t.
What killed me is after all this, not only did it stop raining, but the set dresser retied it all and didn’t even bother to let me watch and learn how it was done. This was a teachable moment missed opportunity. I was sent off to clean the windows for the next shot all the while holding back tears. I later did cry in the privacy of my own car and vowed the day I would get back at her.
I have encountered Brenda and the set dresser since and we do not say hello and I will never work with her for obvious reasons but I feel no need for vengeance.
On the next shoot I learned those knots and I learned them well (from a grip, no less). Now that it’s come time for someone to ask me for help to tie the perfect knot I did not respond, “What are you? TWO!”. I responded with videos, tutorials, and links.
I hope this helps you in some small way because learning the hard way sucks.
How to Tie a Knot
How to Tie a Slip Knot
How to Tie a Bowline Knot
How to Tie a Trucker’s Hitch Knot