• Lex Lea

What is the gaffer in film making?

The gaffer is the chief lighting technician on a set and is head of the electrical department. The gaffer’s job is to run a team of lighting technicians to execute the lighting plan for a production. The name “gaffer” comes from British slang for a tool called a 'gaff' which was a hooked metal pole used in theatre to adjust the stage lights.


The gaffer’s job description includes responsibilities during the preproduction and production phases of a recording, such as a movie or television show.


The gaffer reads the script and makes note of any special lighting needs for the production. They meets with the director and producers to determine their vision for the lighting. They will come up with a plan to execute that vision, including what lights and lighting equipment will be best for the job, all within the production’s budget. They then observe the lighting on the film set or television set during filming and makes any adjustments to ensure the lighting is right.


What Is the Difference Between a Gaffer and a Grip?


As head electrician, the gaffer works with many other film crews and personnel during a motion picture production. One such crew is the 'grip' crew. While the lighting technicians are in charge of setting up all electrical equipment, the grip crew is in charge of all non-electrical equipment for the gaffer and camera operators.


This non-electrical equipment is called 'rigging' and it includes any equipment that helps to lift or hoist other equipment.


The grip crew also has a crew member whose job title is 'best boy' often referred to as the 'best boy grip' and is not to be confused with the gaffer’s best boy, the 'best boy electric'.


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