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Gwinnett County resident trades low-paying jobs for grip work

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Musician Daniel Deckebach worked in kitchens and bars to supplement his income. Yet the night life and low wages motivated him to seek out a new career, one he’s now developing as a grip in the film and television production industry.

He says he’s always dreamed of owning a home, and the money he earned in Georgia’s film industry helped make that dream come true.

“I was able to save enough money from my work in the film industry to put a down payment on a home,” says Daniel. “I couldn’t have achieved my dream before on kitchen wages.”

While working in the kitchen at East Atlanta’s The Earl, Daniel met crew members working on various productions in Georgia, and learned more about their work. The film industry appealed to Daniel, with its combination of hard work and creative people like him.

At The Earl, Daniel met key rigging grip Francis Harlan, a connection that would change his life.

“Francis gave me a chance. I didn’t know anything, but I was hungry and ready to make a change,” says Daniel. “Francis liked my work ethic and I did my best to step up to the challenge and gain knowledge and experience. I ended up working on his crew for the next few years.”

Daniel’s first experience as a grip was on the film “The Hate U Give.” He benefitted from the small crew size, which gave him the opportunity to learn many aspects of rigging. He says Francis was a great teacher who showed him both what to do and why they were doing it. Now Daniel can operate large, heavy machinery like condors and pettibone forklifts, a difficult skill he’s proud to have learned.

According to Daniel, the benefits of working in the film industry have made a huge difference in his life. He has affordable medical benefits. He bought a home. And he has pride in his work.

“Kitchen work was monotonous. In the film industry we’re at a different place and on a different adventure every day,” says Daniel. “I’m always learning new things. It’s challenging and I’m proud of the work we do.”



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