What does a Gaffer do?

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A "gaffer" in the filmmaking sense is the head of the electrical department. They are also responsible for setting up and in some cases creating the equipment for lighting.

  • First health and safety.
  • They conduct risk assessments
  • They must keep control of the lighting budget, and oversee the work.
  • Must select the best lights and equipment for the production with in the project budget.
  • Must be able to suggest ideas, and also have a broad knowledge of the equipment used in the project.
  • Position lights and equipment during production.
  • Must be committed and have patience for the project.
  • To choose a reliable lighting team.
  • Must be aware of legal regulations relating to working wit electricity.
Gaffers are responsible for a big part of the production. Without proper lighting certain emotions couldn't be capture that the producers are trying to get across. Certain colors make people react differently and the gaffers have to map all of these scenarios out and arrange them properly.

  • Must be imaginative
  • High-level technical skills
  • Strong problem solving skills
  • Excellent communication
  • Team leadership qualities
  • Self-confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Decision-making
  • Patience and tact.
  • The ability to compromise , and balance differing opinions.

Gaffers are also known as Chief Electrician. They are in charge of all electrical work on a production. They install the lighting equipment and arrange the power supply in order to create the designed lighting effects. Gaffers work with the director of photography to get a picture of what they are trying to achieve. Their role varies on the size of production and the budget. For example, if a film has a large budget, a gaffer organizes the light availability and the grip modifies it and enhances it.Gaffers provide light for photo shoots or full length movies. They arrange light indoors(inside studios) outside sets, and on live locations. Gaffers aren't always a part of the production team. Some are hired from lighting companies to do the lighting for a single project. Therefore the gaffer must be able to walk on a set of 100+ strangers and be able to take over the light operation and become the leader of the operation as well until the production is done.

//"Gaffer is British slang for "grandfather" and is meant as a term of respect. In the early days of the movie industry, the lighting equipment was often huge and extremely heavy. The only people experienced in moving that kind of stuff around were longshoremen - the dock workers who load cargo onto ships. These guys were unionized and worked in highly structured teams. At the top was the older and more experienced "grandfather" or - Gaffer. Of course, that meant his most experienced apprentice was - can you guess? - his Best Boy. Today the term Chief Lighting Technician is often replacing that of Gaffer, but the duties are the same. The Gaffer is head of the lighting department, and one of the most crucial people on the movie or TV production set. He and his crew, referred to as Electricians, Electrics or Lamp Operators are responsible for running all the electrical cable and placing the lights. The Gaffer confers with the Director of Photography or D.P. to determine what sort of lighting effects are needed and devises ways to create those effects. The equipment and techniques for using it have changed greatly since those early days, but generally the work is the same. Since film images (or TV pictures) are nothing without light, you can see that the work of the Gaffer, his Best Boy, and the other Electricians is pivotal. By the way, in television, the top lighting person is often a cross between that of a D.P. and the Gaffer and he or she is usually referred to as the Lighting Director. " [1]

Online Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaffer_(filmmaking) http://www.skillset.org/film/jobs/lighting/article_3890_1.asp http://www.newenglandfilm.com/news/archives/00november/gaffer.htm http://www.startintv.com/jobs/gaffer.php


  1. ^ //http://www.buytape.com/what_is_a_gaffer.shtml