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  • Writer's pictureAdam Dodd

What does a Gaffer do?

A gaffer is a crucial member of the film and television production crew, responsible for managing the electrical and lighting department. They work closely with the director of photography (DP or DoP) to achieve the desired lighting effects for each scene and ensure that the lighting setups meet the creative vision of the production.



Gaffer in Sydney Australia


Here are some specific responsibilities of a gaffer:


1. Lighting Setup: The gaffer oversees the installation and positioning of all lighting equipment, including lights, lamps, and other electrical fixtures. They work with their team to rig and set up the lights according to the DP's lighting plan.


2. Lighting Design: Based on the DP's requirements, the gaffer contributes to the lighting design of each shot or scene. This involves determining the type of lighting fixtures needed, their intensity, color temperature, and direction to create the desired mood and atmosphere.


3. Electrical Safety: Safety is paramount on a film set, especially when working with electrical equipment. The gaffer ensures that all electrical connections are secure and that the equipment is used safely to prevent any accidents.


4. Light Control: The gaffer uses various accessories like diffusers, reflectors, flags, and gels to control and manipulate the light's quality, direction, and intensity.


5. Collaboration: They work closely with the DP, director, and other key crew members to understand the visual requirements of each scene. The gaffer communicates with their team to execute the lighting plan effectively.


6. Lighting Crew Management: The gaffer is responsible for overseeing their lighting team, which may include electricians, grips, and other assistants. They delegate tasks, manage schedules, and ensure the team operates smoothly.


7. Troubleshooting: On set, various challenges may arise, such as power supply issues or equipment malfunctions. The gaffer must be resourceful and quick-thinking to address these problems efficiently.


In summary, the gaffer is in charge of lighting and electrical operations on a film set. They play a vital role in achieving the desired visual aesthetics of the production and work closely with the DP and other departments to bring the director's vision to life.

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