What Happens if There's No Gaffer on Set? (Hint: Bad Things)
There are lots of titles in the credits of films, but today we want to cover the gaffer and make sure you know why they are on set and what they do!
If you're like me and sit through the credits, you may notice a lot of different jobs on set. Today, I wanted to take a look at a video that covers the gaffer specifically. Gaffers are not just the namesake of some wonderful tape, they do one of the most important jobs on set.
Gaffers help define the look and feel of everything you watch.
In this video from Vanity Fair, master gaffer Andy Day takes through a day-in-the-life of a gaffer, revealing how sets are lit for the screen, as well as the lighting techniques he uses to make actors look great.
What's a Gaffer?
On film and television crews, the gaffer, or chief lighting technician, is the head electrician. Gaffers are responsible for coming up with a plan to light every scene in your movie or TV show. They have to know every detail about the production and work in concert with the cinematographer and director to help achieve a consistent look and feel.
Why are they called gaffers?
The term comes from the overhead equipment used to control lighting levels using a device called a "gaff."
How does a Gaffer prep?
Before a shoot even happens, the gaffer has to check out the location on a tech scout. They use the script and wander the locations where shooting will take place to note the electrical sources and possible tricky situations they'll run into while the shoot takes place.
After their notes are in place, the gaffer will meet with the director, DP, key grip, best boys, and producers to talk logistics and work out a budget.
Each different location will need a plan and a budget. They'll also have to account for everything that can go right or wrong on a shoot day. So beware of sun, clouds, weather, and overloading outlets.
What does a gaffer do on set?
The gaffer has a ton of responsibilities. Being the chief electricians on movies, they need to manage the light sources, instruments, and all the electrical equipment. They also help to plan and execute the lighting scheme, which is super complex. Check out this post where renowned gaffer John Higgins reveals secrets behind lighting some of Hollywood's biggest films.
The rest of the gaffer’s team are the electrics, or electricians. The gaffer manages those people and makes sure they're all on the same page. They have to hustle between takes and camera setups to make adjustments on the fly. And always watch your step. Their cords are everywhere (but hopefully taped down).
What's next? Learn 13 Film Lighting Techniques!
Film lighting techniques make your commercial, movie, or TV show look cinematic. It will help your story pop off the screen. We break down every major technique.
Click the link to learn more!