In film production, there are certain scenes that are shot inside, which we refer to as exterior, as well as those that are shot at night.
And these type of scenes cannot be shot successfully without an external form of lighting, even if you are shooting with a camera that comes with an inbuilt light.
As a matter of fact, film lighting is not something you should take for granted less you are going to have a blurry or noisy image, and this will make it difficult for your viewers to see what’s going on in the scene.
For this reason, during the production stage of film production, we must have someone who oversees the lighting, and it is worth noting that film lighting requires some techniques in order to achieve the lighting that resonates with what’s going on in the scene at the particular point in time.
For example, if you are shooting a robbery scene in a street corner, it is erroneous to use a very bright lighting that exposes the faces of the armed robbers because the reason they chose to rob at this location is to conceal their identity.
This article will therefore aim to help you understand the roles and responsibilities of a light engineer, who is also known as a gaffer in film production.
In this article, you will also learn about the skills required to become a gaffer as well as how to become a gaffer in case you desire to become one at the end of the day.
So without much ado, let’s get started with this article.
Who is a gaffer in film production?
A gaffer is someone who creates and controls every form of lighting used in a film production, he is also being referred to as the light engineer.
It is the gaffer who must ensure that the right lights are used in the right places in order to get the best image for every scene as well as convey the feelings needed for the particular scene through lighting.
The roles and responsibilities of a gaffer in film production.
Below are the roles and responsibilities of a gaffer in film production:
- The gaffer must create and control the light that will bring to life the overall look and feel of a film. To achieve this goal, the gaffer must work hand in hand with the DOP (Director Of Photography) to understand the type of camera and settings he is using whenever the need for lighting arises.
- It is the gaffer that makes up the list of every kit and equipment that will be used to achieve the desired lighting in every scene of a film that requires light.
- A gaffer is also responsible for using the desired light effects that is required for any scene during a film production.
- It is also the responsibility of a gaffer to position and change the lighting setups between shots of every movie scene.
- A gaffer is also responsible for safety during film production, and this implies that he needs to understand and comply with the laws of electricity to avoid a cast or crew member being electrocuted during the process of filmmaking.
Skills required to become a gaffer.
A gaffer must endeavor to possess r acquire the following skills:
- Lighting skills: As a gaffer, you must endeavor to have an artistic eye which will enable you to know how to achieve different lighting effects and the kits you are going to use to achieve them.
- Electrical knowledge: As a gaffer, you must have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of electrical circuits, power supply units, cables, fuses, sockets, switches, etc.
- Filmmaking knowledge: To be a good gaffer, you must understand the film production stages and processes, especially how your role as a gaffer will cut across several other movie professionals, most importantly the DOP who is expected to achieve the required image and feel of the scene in his camera.
- Communication skills: Having the communication skills as a gaffer will enable you to figure out plans and explain them to the crew in a manner that will make them cooperate.
- Organizational skills: Organizational skills will help you as a gaffer to work with the available budget for the film, schedule the kit requirements and meet up with the deadlines.
How to become a gaffer.
To become a gaffer you must have qualifications in electrical installation after undergoing some form of training. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a degree or diploma as you can go into apprenticeship with a qualified and experienced electrician.
But if you want a diploma or degree before becoming a gaffer, you can study electrical engineering and afterwards learn about the film production stages and processes as I mentioned somewhere earlier in this article.
Once you have all the knowledge about electricity and filmmaking, you can then go ahead to network with those that matters in the film industry and scout for your first ever job as a gaffer.
Also, you really need to be acquainted with the kits and equipment used in the film industry and you can do this by taking on a job or training in a kit rental or sales company.