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 this ubiquitous piece of gear remain shrouded in mystery. In this post, we’ll break down what they are, what they’re used for and explain their components.


First, let’s define C-stand

A 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. It 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. But this is far from the only type of equipment that can be mounted on one. 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. These stands are valued for their versatility and wide range of applications. They 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 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, these stands 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 from the perspective of those who use it the most, the grip department.

Grip Tips: C-Stands

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 stands may include custom components enabling them to perform additional or alternative tasks. This diagram outlines the components of a standard stand.

What is a C Stand C stand diagram standard size of c stand

C-stand diagram

These 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 stands on hand, so conserving space is important.

There are three legs which will line up for storage or lock into place in a staggered formation when in use.

The three legs are set at different heights, which allows the legs of multiple stands to nest together in close proximity on set. A sandbag is typically slung over the tallest leg to keep the stand from tipping over.

The versatility of C-stands

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 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.

How to use a C-stand

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 →
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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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