January 26, 2017 at 9:09AM


DPs; How do you communicate with your gaffer?

As the title suggests, I'm curious as to how one may communicate with their gaffer. Are you specifically asking for a 650w fresnel with 1/4 cto, or are you asking them for a general look and feel and handing full technical control to them?


The DP talks directly to the gaffer, telling him what to put where. The gaffer generally has the authority to decide implementation, like whether to use a 750W or a 1K lamp, takes initiative for setting up barn doors, which drop-hanger to use etc. but the DP is the boss and can request specific items if he wishes. The DP will say things like "Let's put the key here (shining his LASER pointer at a spot on the grid)", "bring down #42 a little", "don't put a control grid on that." He might occasionally cut out gels etc. to help expedite things but doesn't do a lot of equipment handling and doesn't micro manage.
There's been times where I made a suggestion to the DP, like "maybe we should put a 1/4 magenta filter on that."
"Good idea." It's very much a symbiotic relationship. I would venture to say the DP's job is 60% art and 40% science while the Gaffer's job is maybe 20% art and 80% science.

January 27, 2017 at 4:44AM, Edited January 27, 4:45AM


Very useful! I'm still learning about the dp/gaffer relationship. Thanks for the information!

February 3, 2017 at 9:17AM, Edited February 3, 9:18AM


Here are is an awesome resource: http://www.theasc.com/site/blog/thefilmbook/dps-and-gaffers-who-does-what/

In a nutshell, as already highlighted above, it's a collaboration with the DP taking primary creative lead with the Gaffer/CLT (and I guess you could include Key Grip) providing the technical solutions. However, as mentioned in the video, a good Gaffer with a good eye is absolutely a joy to work with. Someone like almost becomes the DP's conscience, sometimes affirming an idea or at least "devil's advocate".


February 3, 2017 at 12:51PM

John Dimalanta
Freelance Photographer/Cinematographer

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