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How do you become a gaffer?


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#1 Micah Kovacs

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 06:28 PM

We've all seen the threads asking about how you can become a cinematographer, but what about becoming a gaffer?

Is there any special education required? Are there positions you must work up through to become a gaffer?

And what are the requirements for the perfect gaffer? - a dedicated passion for light, etc...?
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#2 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 08:27 AM

hi becoming a gaffer requires a lot of time, passion and tools.

you have to start as an electrician to learn about all there nuts and bolts.
when you are confortable with the tool you will work the light with the gaffer or the DOP depend of the country culture and the size of the crew.

then you'll be in a position to become a gaffer, you'll meet dop and productions who will want you.

but a gaffer will tell you better than me what is needed
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#3 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 09:03 AM

hi eric,

i was a gaffer before i became a dp here in new york, and it was a great path for me as far as learning and developing relationships are concerned.

i'll tell you how i did it: right after film school, i was working as a p.a. on a medium-budget independent feature, and i sort of made it my business to become friendly with the electricians. i drove a van and i would (among other things) deliver lights that day-played back and forth to them from the rental house. when the feature was over, they recommended me to a gaffer who owned a lighting truck, and i worked for a year or two taking care of his gear and driving his truck on shoots, mostly small commercials. in the meantime, i started to get hired by other gaffers i met on shoots as an electrician, mostly on music videos. years of running cable, setting lights and distributing loads taught me what i needed to know to start working as a gaffer, first on smaller shoots, independent features, music videos, and then on larger commercials. i picked up some basic lighting skills and then some more advanced techniques. i learned about dimmer boards and the wonders of socapex cable. i went out to LA and worked on big music videos a few weeks or months at a time. i eventually joined the union...

the biggest thing i brought to the table was enthusiasm. i always gave a dp a sense that he had no worries, i woud get it done for him in as little time as possble, and always within the time we had promised. and the other thing, as you say, is passion: coming up with new solutions to lighting problems, always on the lookout for new ideas. and always evaluating the results and trying to improve next time out.

which i still do now as a dp...

i hope this helps, let me know if i can help some more.

joe
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Wooden Camera

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Glidecam

The Slider

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