Latest Gaffer Job Description – Duties, and Salary

Gaffer Job Description, Duties, and Salary

There are a lot of elements that make a film worth watching. It can be the actors, the story, or even the poetry of the scenes. A film is a work of art, and therefore, lighting is an important aspect when making a movie. It enhances the feel of scenes and adds beauty to them. The lighting of different scenes in a movie is done by the Gaffer or chief light technician (CLT). We will discuss Gaffer Job Description here.

A  Gaffer is the chief of lighting on a set. A gaffer works with the Director of Photography (DP) and executes the set’s point of view. Gaffers read the script and set up the lighting, which influences the tone and mood of the scene. The assistant of the Gaffer is called the Best Boy. The Best Boy is in charge of the Grip/Electrical crew. Gaffer works in the pre-production phase and the production phase to give the scene the desired effect.

The word ‘Gaffer’ is derived from ‘Gaf.’ A hooked metal pole is used to adjust stage lights. The Gaffer is in charge of anything to do with lighting. He has to have a thorough knowledge of lighting equipment, lighting techniques, etc., and also needs to know the script and work with the director to bring the vision to life. It is up to the Gaffer to make sure the crew does their lighting work properly.

Gaffer Job Description

Those working with lights need to be available 12 to 18 hours a day while filming. It is the duty of the Gaffer to make sure the team works well together. He needs to have good interpersonal and administrative skills to organize the G/E crew. The film crew must work well together. The gaffer has to see that all members of his G/E crew are working efficiently, and they must work well with the others too. The Gaffer is in charge of checking on his lighting staff and the grips working with the lighting. A Grips area of expertise is simply the construction part of the filming. A gaffer must also make sure there are no overloads. The Gaffer must have a thorough knowledge of lighting equipment and gear. He does work on both creative as well as practical lighting needs. The Gaffer is also in charge of safety on set.

What is the Role of a Gaffer?

The Gaffer is in charge of all the lighting needs, such as lighting for day shoots, night shoots, generator needs, etc. The budget, location, and more will enable the Gaffer to pick which lighting is perfect for the picture the DP has in mind. The Gaffer, along with the best boy, will formulate the lighting plan for the film. It is the Gaffer’s job to fix the lighting. He communicates with the Electrical department so that they provide him with the desired lamp or bulb. If the Gaffer is satisfied, he calls in the DP to get his opinion and make some final adjustments.

A gaffer is responsible for executing the lighting plan and design while working with the DP and also manages the labor and lighting equipment. A gaffer must be sound in technical knowledge and must possess a creative mind to breathe life into the DP’s vision and make a successful film scene. Gaffers can do magic on set with the help of lighting. They can recreate the beauty of sunsets, flickers of light for certain scenes, the transformation of night into day etc.

What is the Average Salary of a Gaffer?

Gaffers earn around $47 per hour. Salary depends on various factors such as experience, location, equipment, and budget of the film. It is usually around $19,000 to $129,000. A Gaffer’s salary is according to the project they are working on.

What is the Education Needed for Becoming a Gaffer?

Gaffers start as production assistants, or they go to film school. In addition to lighting, the Gaffer has to know other subjects such as grip and camera. Many film schools can give you a good push in the right direction. It takes experience as well to become a Gaffer. To gain this, work as a Grip in as many shots as possible. Electrical knowledge is also a must to keep the set safe.

What are the Required Skills for a Gaffer?

They need to have:

  • Thorough knowledge of safety protocols.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to maintain calm in a crisis.
  • Ability to manage conflicts.
  • A gaffer needs to know about electricity, lighting equipment, color theory, and photography.

What are the Common Tools Used by a Gaffer?

The main tool of a Gaffer is the Grip Truck. The Grip Truck is the entire lighting package for production. Some Grip Trucks also function as generators. They also use the light meter to confirm the light readings to the DP. The light meter is also called the “Sekonic” because it is the most common brand. Gaffers’ standard tools are Leather gloves, a multi-tool, a small flashlight, a role of black Gaffer tape, cube taps, and clamps.


A Gaffer is the chief of lighting, and they work side by side with the DP, producers, and directors. They work together to create the required lighting effect for a movie scene or production set. Gaffers are also thorough with the script to get an idea of the lighting required and then select the appropriate lighting gear. Technical know-how is required for one aspiring to be a Gaffer. Though no one is too familiar with the role of a Gaffer, it remains one of the most important roles in the film industry. Being a Gaffer is a wonderful career. It is up to the Gaffer to turn a film into an artistic masterpiece by giving it the right color, light, and shade. Films would not be the same without the work of a Gaffer and the lighting crew. Lighting is everything!

Also read Executive Producer vs Producer: What’s the Difference?

Latest Gaffer Job Description – Duties, and Salary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top