Selwyn Henry

What is a Gaffer?

The Gaffer is the head of the Electrics/Lighting department on a film set. He or she is responsible for assisting the cinematographer with lighting and providing power to the set. They work directly with the cinematographer to achieve the look of the film the DoP is going for.

What skills do you need to be a gaffer?

You are not expected to have a specific degree to become a gaffer, but you will need experience and training in film/ TV production. A college education in this field is a great place to start to build your résumé and compile a demo reel of your work. Student films and independents are the best way to start learning the trade.

How did you become a Gaffer and how long have you been working in the industry?

I have been in the industry for 30 years to date I have always had a passion for creating scenes with light and the story that light tells it is like painting with lights.

What type of tools do you need to have on set?

These are some of the tools you should have: Utility Belt, a pair of gloves, Gaffer tape, Multi-tool like a Leatherman, Flashlight, Tape Measure, or Laser Light, Markers, Clothespin/A Clamps, Electrical Tester, and a Light Meter.

What is the relationship between the Cinematographer and Gaffer?

Having a strong relationship with the cinematographer is vital at the start of a production. Depending on factors like budget, shooting length, camera format, location, and more, the Gaffer will choose which units are right for a look and the scene the DP wants to achieve

When does the Gaffer join a film production?

From the inception of the production, the gaffer goes with the DP to scout the location for the shoot.

What is a Tech Reece?

That is when the DP, Gaffer, Sound, Producer, Director, AD go and visit the locations and make decisions regarding what is needed and plan the direction and look of the shoot.

What does a Gaffer look for during a Tech Reece?

You would look for things like electrical power supply, space for lighting, where is the strongest light source direction, place for storage of equipment, and accessibility.

What do you do when you are on set?

On set, you have to rig the lights, tweak the lights, check on the power supply, always be on attention to see what is going on set and if the lighting is to the DP’s liking. You also always must keep an eye on your equipment once the lights are on, as they can overheat and catch fire.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a gaffer?

I would say to love what you do and every day try to learn something.