You must be wondering... what's a gaffer and how do I know if it's right for me?

season 3 what GIF by The Good Place

A gaffer is the head of the electricity department on a movie/TV set. Their lighting work often sets the mood and provides meaning to each scene that we see!

What Do They Do?

  • Work closely with the Director of Photography (DoP) to understand what lighting they need for the shot

  • Measure and assess lighting levels on set

  • Organize and pitch a list for the kit (equipment needed for the desired lighting) to the Line Producer

  • Appoint a Best Boy (gaffer's assistant) to hire the crew and order the gear

  • Find the quickest ways to change lighting setups in between shots

  • Make sure electrical setups are safe and comply with laws

  • Communicate ideas of the DoP to the lighting crew

Quiz

What things should you be good at to be a gaffer?

How Much Do They Earn?

Flaticon Icon The average salary for a Gaffer in Canada is $50,000 CAD.

Flaticon Icon The average salary for a Gaffer in the U.S. is $36,000 USD.

Where Do They Work?

Flaticon Icon Gaffers most commonly work on film and television sets, but they can work in virtually any environment that requires a lighting setup!

They can also be found at:

Flaticon Icon Theatre/Dance Productions

Lighting for theatre/dance productions allows the audience to see what's happening on the stage - even from very far away.

Flaticon Icon Concerts

The right lighting at concerts can make a world of difference. Lighting sets the mood and ensures that the artist can see their fans and where they're going on stage.

You'll Enjoy This Career If:

  • You are great at communicating! 😄 Gaffers need to talk to many people and make sure they are carrying out the DoP's vision for the shot and be able to explain complex plans for lighting.

  • You like tinkering with electricity. ⚡ You need to have a deep understanding of electrical circuits, cables, fuses, and more.

  • You are organized. ✨ Gaffers lead and schedule large crews, work within a budget, and meet deadlines.

Gaffers looking at their lighting setup

Find A Different Career If:

  • You don't like sudden schedule changes. 📅 Weather is one of the many factors that can affect a shoot. Gaffers need to adapt quickly to get their setups ready.

  • You don't enjoy travelling to different places very often. 🌎 Filming locations can be local or across the world. Gaffers have to travel and stay in new locations for weeks or months depending on the project.

  • You want a standard 9-5 job. 🏢 Gaffers often work at unusual hours due to different filming schedules and need to be constantly available to accommodate those schedule changes.

lisa kudrow singing GIF by The Comeback HBO

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This Byte has been authored by

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Adrienne Cheng

Student Designer