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Electric Dept. PAy rates


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#1 Chris Dingley1

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 10:22 PM

Ok, So I think I am going to climb the ranks to DP through the electric Dept. from a gapher cause the camera Dept seams boring to me. but what I am wondering is how much the electric dept's pay is.

like Electric-?, BB Electric- ?, Gapher - ?

thanks
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:11 AM

I know what you're trying to say, but if camera department jobs bore you, then perhaps you shouldn't become a DP? If anything, at least as a beginning DP you will probably be operating the camera yourself so you can't ignore that department completely.

But I must admit that I wasn't interested in doing AC work either as a beginner. I just started out as a DP, but worked my way up the budget ladder rather than the crew ladder.

And it's spelled "Gaffer" not "Gapher".

Just like with camera work, the pay rates are all over the place, starting at zero. On low-budget movies, an electric might be offered $100/day or maybe twice that. Don't know what the union scale (minimum) rate is for an electrician, but I would make a wild guess and say $300/day. Of course, it can climb much higher.
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#3 Simon Miya

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:31 AM

I second everything that David posted. In addition, I will add that no department is more exciting than camera. That excitement isn't always a good thing, however. :P

As far as pay rate, I've found that as a 2nd my rate falls somewhere between the Gaffer and his best boy - often near the Gaffer's rate, from what I have been able to gather. The DP makes more than twice as much as I do.

As far as the job experience goes, however, the DP draws more from his lighting knowledge than his camera knowledge. Some of my favorite DPs (to work with) came up through the electric ranks, and have little to no clue about cameras.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:47 AM

I generally figure that the rates for Operator, Gaffer, and Key Grip are roughly similar, and the rates for 1st AC, Best Boy Electric and Best Boy Grip are similar, although that's a very crude estimation.

I noticed on a union rate card that the DP rate is about 1.6X the rate of the operator and about 2X the rate of the 1st AC.
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#5 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:49 AM

I find Lamp Oping fun on some sets, but it can be very boring at times. On the union shows here in Vancouver, full Feature rate is $25.16 over 8 hours, then time and half for then next 4, then double time after that, last i checked... probably went up slightly because its a new year and we get raises every year for the next 3... i think. Gaffers get around $32 a hour, $27 for Best Boy Elx, and $29 for Genny op (Who ends up making the most because they make the most double time for being first and last onset). And if you have a FE ticket you get a $2 raise. Keep in mind that most shows negotiate a scaled down rate, however that is mostly the TV shows. The lowest show being 19% scale. The British Columbia and Yukon Council of Film Unions took down their rate info for some reason so I'm going off my, questionable at times, memory.

For indie stuff its like Mr. Mullen said... $100-$300 per day. Commercials are usually above union rates and Music Videos are often free gigs and or very low pay. Most the indies i've lamp oped on were $225 a day and $300 for the gaffer.

I think the pay is good... but its only good as long as it lasts. My last lamp op day was back in november. And i've been available since then... its just super dead in town. But the time off gives you more time to focus on DPing. However it would be nice to get at least one day call per week.
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#6 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 01:01 AM

I generally figure that the rates for Operator, Gaffer, and Key Grip are roughly similar, and the rates for 1st AC, Best Boy Electric and Best Boy Grip are similar, although that's a very crude estimation.

I noticed on a union rate card that the DP rate is about 1.6X the rate of the operator and about 2X the rate of the 1st AC.



Here a union Op makes around $54 a hour, 1st AC $39, and a minimum for a DP is $75... with a good agent he would probably 10%-30% over scale. Those figures are rough and I'm drawing from memory because the rate resource is not up for some reason. Production Designers get boned with a $32 a hour rate... ouch...

Edited by Chayse Irvin, 18 January 2007 - 01:03 AM.

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#7 Chris Dingley1

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 01:10 AM

Hey,

Thanks for clearing that up, and sorry for misspelling that .

I didnt mean I HATE the camera dept. I mean I love camera stuff, but I love lighting more. and I feal I would have more fun setting uo lights than camera. All this can change as my education moves forward I mean I have yet to fool around with the sr2 and 3 which i'll work with next year. I am just weighing my options.

What about the possibility of doing both? wouldnt that open me up for more work, although I wouldn't want to spread myself too thin...
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#8 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 04:02 AM

Hey Chayse,

Thanks for the info. That's crazy cheap labor up there. I thought it would have been higher. Rates here seem about the same or a little higher. How are the crews up there? How often does it slow down?

I'm really curious as to how the film scene is up there. I've been interested in heading up to Vancouver for the past couple of years, though as far west as I've gone is Calgary. It's breathtaking up there. Thanks again for sharing,
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 05:08 AM

I don't about the US, but most of our lighting crew are qualified electricians, many of whom started in the construction industry before getting into film & TV.

A couple Gaffers have become DPs.
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#10 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 05:31 AM

Hey Chayse,

Thanks for the info. That's crazy cheap labor up there. I thought it would have been higher. Rates here seem about the same or a little higher. How are the crews up there? How often does it slow down?

I'm really curious as to how the film scene is up there. I've been interested in heading up to Vancouver for the past couple of years, though as far west as I've gone is Calgary. It's breathtaking up there. Thanks again for sharing,


The crews up here are amazing... union crews anyway, not so much the indie crews. The union got rid of seniority last year here with the exception of dispatch... so now its really elite. The film scene is cool. Not nearly as big as LA but its pretty good. The end of spring and summers are insane... and if there is a big show in town like Fantastic 4 or X-Men... everyone is working for the next few months. When the big shows aren't here, the indies pick up.
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#11 Matt Workman

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 05:04 PM

If you are in school learn everything you can. Camera, electric, acting, directing, etc.

The more you know about the whole process and everyone's role the more educated your work can be. Also on indies where the departments aren't as strict having an AC with electric knowledge and VV are very helpful.

Matt B)
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#12 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 06:29 PM

If you are in school learn everything you can. Camera, electric, acting, directing, etc.

The more you know about the whole process and everyone's role the more educated your work can be. Also on indies where the departments aren't as strict having an AC with electric knowledge and VV are very helpful.

Matt B)



Totally. Its great to have knowledge in multi departments. I often do tons of grippin on set... gotta have that team attitude. I've worked with some dolly grips that knew more about the schedule and the shot list then the director or the 1st AD, and I've worked with Key Grips that could easily PM. I used to do Art Dept stuff before I did lighting and DPing... the knowledge that you gain from other departments only help you when DPing.
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