What is a Gaffer?
A Gaffer is the head of the lighting and power department on a film set. They work mainly in pre-production and production and are responsible for helping to achieve the desired cinematic image.
What is the job?
The Gaffer will collaborate with the Director and Cinematographer to decide on the aesthetic for the visuals of the film, and make a plan of how they are logistically going to achieve them. This involves the Gaffer scouting the locations and where the lights can live in each set up, as well as making sure cables can be run and finding a safe place for the generator. On top of this, the Gaffer will work with the Cinematographer to create lighting plots, which act as a reference point to help establish a plan.
Other duties that the Gaffer is responsible for include negotiating with Producers, as well as Production Managers, on the electrical budget and required lighting equipment. The Gaffer must constantly work with their crew to make them as efficient as possible, to make sure production is happening quickly and efficiently. If the lighting department is slow, shots will be cut and the production may go into overtime (this is because changing lighting setups usually takes the most time in a transition on set).