The C-47, or common wooden clothespin is probably the lightest weight and most inexpensive “clamp” you will ever find on set. The primary function of C-47’s is to attach gel filters to the barn doors of hot lights. Wood is a good insulator and doesn’t conduct heat very well so they are perfect for this application whereas metal would easily transmit heat and plastic would melt.
Why C-47’s you ask? Well there are several myths behind the naming of such a normal piece of equipment.
One theory states that they are incredibly versatile just like the Douglas C-47 Skytrain military aircraft. Another theory states that producers at Hollywood studios hated to spend good money on something so basic as a wooden clothespin, so they were renamed C-47’s to disguise their identity so they wouldn’t be rejected by the producer as “unnecessary”. Lastly, it was said that the storage bin where they stored the clothespins was labeled, “C-47” and the name stuck.
They are also referred to as 47’s, pegs (as in wooden pegs) and bullets or ammo because gaffers and grips would clip dozens of them to their utility belts giving them the appearance of a gunslinger from the Wild West.
So the next time you are on a film set or talking to industry pros, you can be one of the cognocente (people in the know) and call wooden clothespins by their true Hollywood name, C-47.