Why A Clothespin Is One Of The Most Important Tools On A Movie Set

Illustration for article titled Why A Clothespin Is One Of The Most Important Tools On A Movie Set

You may be more used to seeing these pinning your favorite shirts out for a line-dry in the sun, but on film sets, clothespins are used for something else entirely.


io9’s comment of the day today comes from two commenters who waxed rhapsodic on the many, many virtues a clothespin has on a movie set. Observe:


The lowly C-47: Attaches gels and diff to barn doors, levers pictures away from walls to avoid reflections, can be reversed to pull scrims from hot lights, can break down into camera wedges to level a hi-hat (or stray apple box), holds up the edge of a 4-by floppy so the director can get to video village, keeps doors from closing, marks your coffee cup... the uses are almost endless.


On film sets generally, probably C47s, which normal people call wooden clothespins. Mostly they’re used for pinning gels onto lights, but they end up being good for all kinds of things.

Okay, but why call it a C-47 and not just a clothespin?


Strangely enough, no-one in the film industry knows where the idea of naming wooden clothespins “C-47s” actually came from.

The leading theory does reference the military version of the DC-3 you show above. Another competing theory is that a producer, horrified at the idea that grips were stealing clothespins to do their laundry, banned the purchase of clothespins on any of his sets, without realizing how useful/necessary they are. Realizing that production would grind to a halt without such a basic item, the equipment manager for the studio looked at the bag the clothespins came in, saw they were designated as item number “C-47” on the bag by the manufacturer, and immediately told all productions on the lot that henceforth all charges, references, and receipts for “clothespins” needed to be changed to “C-47s”... and it stuck.

Another rumor has it that “clothespins” aren’t tax-deductible... but “C-47s” are.

(And, if you reverse it, it’s a C-74, and useful for pulling hot scrims out of burning lights.)

Image: Mi Ha / Shutterstock



They also don’t melt and conduct heat (unless you purposely burn it) when you attach it with gels/scrims/defussions to lights.