What is a C-stand? Anyone who has been on a professional film set is sure to be familiar with C-stands and their various permutations, but to the general public and plenty of no-to-low budget filmmakers, the C-stand remains a piece of equipment that often goes undefined. No longer will the ubiquitous C-stand remain shrouded in mystery. In this post, we’ll break down what a C-stand is, what it’s used for and explain its components.

What is a C Stand

First, let’s define C-stand

C-stand is one of many filmmaking terms you should know, especially if you hope to work as a grip or gaffer. If those job titles aren’t familiar to you, our ultimate guide to film crew positions can help you fill in the blanks. 


What is a C-stand?

A C-stand is a freestanding apparatus used to rig various types of equipment. The C-stand is one of the most commonly used tools of the G&E department, though it may also be used by crew members in different departments on occasion. C-stand is short for “century stand” and is also sometimes referred to as a “grip stand”.

Any piece of equipment used to shape or modify light, such as a flag or silk, is commonly mounted on a C-stand, though this is far from the only type of equipment that can be mounted on a C-stand. Large lights and cameras are not typically mounted on C-stands but it is possible and does happen occasionally, and pretty much every other type of equipment is fair game for rigging. C-stands are valued for their versatility and wide range of applications.

C-stands also come in a wide variety of sizes and types that are specialized for particular circumstances, such as a “rocky mountain C-stand” which features an adjustable-height leg for placement on uneven terrain, or a “roller stand” which features casters on the legs of the C-stand and allows it to roll across flat surfaces.

C Stand Characteristics:

  • Used in conjunction with other film equipment
  • Primarily used by the G&E department
  • Available in a wide variety of types

C Stand Camera Mount

The parts of a C-stand

At a glance, a C-stand might look like a simple and straightforward piece of equipment, but they might be more complex and capable of greater functionality than you realize. The video below covers a wealth of information about C-stands from the perspective of those who use it the most, the grip department.

Grip Tips: C-Stands  •  c stand for camera

C-stands are made up of many components, and most of these parts can be altered, removed, or swapped out to meet the specific requirements of a particular film shoot. Specialized C-stands may include custom components enabling them to perform additional or alternative tasks. This diagram outlines the components of a standard C-stand.

C stand diagram

C-stand diagram  •  standard size of c-stand

C-stands are collapsable, allowing them to be stored and transported more easily. It is common for a major film shoot to have several if not dozens of C-stands on hand, so conserving space is important.

There are three legs on a C-stand which will line up for storage or lock into place in a staggered formation when in use. The three legs of a C-stand are set at different heights, which allows the legs of multiple C-stands to nest together in close proximity on set. A sandbag is typically slung over the tallest leg to keep the C-stand from tipping over.

The versatility of C-stands  •  c stand uses

Equipment mounted on a C-stand attaches to the head or pin, which can each come in a variety of types and styles as well. The most common C-stand head is often called a gobo head or a grip head and features multiple openings designed for the rigging of flags and other light altering equipment that is made specifically for C-stand mounting.

How to use a C-stand  •  types of c stands

Be sure to read our post on how to use a C-stand for more hands-on information and instruction.


What is a Grip on a Movie Set?

Knowing what a C-stand is gets you one step closer to becoming a grip on a movie set. Knowing how to use one is even better. But, what is a grip in the first place? Make sure you know what you are getting into if you think the G&E department might make a good home for you on a film set. Learn what a grip is, what they do, and what tools they use in addition to C-stands, up next.

Up Next: What is a Grip on a Movie Set? →
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  • Sam Kench is an internationally-awarded screenwriter, independent filmmaker, and film critic. Lover of foreign films; hater of American remakes.

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