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Gaffer starting out


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#1 Simon Olney

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 07:52 AM

I'm unsure if this is the right place for this discussion, but felt that posting it here would get the best response, feel free to move it if neccersary.

I am halfway through my second year of study at my school and have decided to specialise primarily in lighting as opposed to camera or grip, both at my school and in the industry. My question is what the best course of action is to take regarding qualifications and any general advice.

I have worked with the majority of common lights, have a basic understanding of electricity (from reading the Set Lighting Technician's Handbook) and worked in the electrical department on over 20 student and low budget films, however I'm aware that to work in the industry I'm going to need more than experience on student films and a knowledge of the theory of electricity.

Is there a standard qualification most productions look for in electricians/ gaffers? I aspire ultimately to become a Director of Photography and keep a hand in camera where possible, but as my skills and interest lie primarily in lighting it would seem worthwhile to study electricity further, but I don't want to waste my time and money on excessive or pointless courses.

Cheers
Simon
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:33 PM

Well, you won't be a Gaffer starting out, you'll be an electrician. To do this in the UK you have to have electrical qualifications. It's not as advanced as becoming a fully fledged general electrician, but you will have to go to college in order to gain them. They are a legal requirement these days.

I would say your best bet is to go to Panalux (LEE Lighting as was) or AFM, and see if they will take you on as a trainee spark while you gain the qualifications you need.
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#3 Simon Olney

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 03:23 PM

Should have mentioned that, I'm not looking to go straight into gaffering, but I know sparks don't always need qualifications to work on set, but I'm planning to move through the ranks rather than haul lights for a living which I know a lot of people are content to do and it makes sense to get the necessary knowledge sooner rather than later, although after what you said it looks like I might need some qualifications to get my foot on the bottom rung of the ladder.

You mention working at panalux, is that in conjunction with any qualifications or just to get me some more experience along academic studies? You mention I'd need to go to college to get the qualifications, are they in conjunction with on set experience or standalone qualifications?
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 07:56 PM

I'm unsure if this is the right place for this discussion, but felt that posting it here would get the best response, feel free to move it if neccersary.

I am halfway through my second year of study at my school and have decided to specialise primarily in lighting as opposed to camera or grip, both at my school and in the industry. My question is what the best course of action is to take regarding qualifications and any general advice.

I have worked with the majority of common lights, have a basic understanding of electricity (from reading the Set Lighting Technician's Handbook) and worked in the electrical department on over 20 student and low budget films, however I'm aware that to work in the industry I'm going to need more than experience on student films and a knowledge of the theory of electricity.

Is there a standard qualification most productions look for in electricians/ gaffers? I aspire ultimately to become a Director of Photography and keep a hand in camera where possible, but as my skills and interest lie primarily in lighting it would seem worthwhile to study electricity further, but I don't want to waste my time and money on excessive or pointless courses.

Cheers
Simon



Hey Simon.

Take a look at this chapter that deals specifically with the Set Electrician: http://www.whatireal...om/Electric.pdf That may give you some help. If you find it valuable, I urge you to take a look at the entire Electric, Grip, and Camera sections in the book: http://realfilmcareer.com/?page_id=41

Good luck!
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 03:30 AM

I know sparks don't always need qualifications to work on set,

I might need some qualifications to get my foot on the bottom rung of the ladder.


You will definitely need these qualifications. They are a legal requirement for anyone entering the industry these days. Panalux and AFM will not hire a spark that doesn't have them.

To find out exactly what you need, you should contact a company like Panalux and ask. It is likely to be part of the 17th Edition Electrical regulations City & Guilds course, which you could probably either do as a day release or as an intensive course. You could also get more info from the Electricians branch at BECTU.
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#6 Simon Olney

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:44 PM

Brian, thanks for the helpful link, I will do my best to digest it and translate it into the industry over there.

Stuart, thanks for helping me realise that, I'll look into the City an Guilds qualification; I liked the look of it when I had a quick google but didn't know if it was useful to have or a bit of a red herring. I noticed you work in Bristol, off the top of your head, you wouldn't happen to know if there's the possibility to study for the qualification in the local area? I live just outside Swindon outside of term time and it would be ideal to study as close to home as possible.

I'll get in touch with the organisations you mentioned to see what they recommend, helps to give the employers what they want.
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:03 PM

you wouldn't happen to know if there's the possibility to study for the qualification in the local area? I live just outside Swindon outside of term time and it would be ideal to study as close to home as possible.


You can study for a City & Guilds at the City of Bristol college.

http://www.cityofbristol.ac.uk/

And you can contact Panalux Bristol on 0117 982 7364. Chris Thonpson is the man in charge. He should be able to tell you exactly what you need.
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#8 michael austin

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 08:05 AM

Hi, everyone!

My name is Samuel and I'm french, 33 yers old, student in Paris (second year on 3 in programing, animation...) after different jobs. I studied also movies technical in a graduate school between 1999 to 2002. after that, i was working on a different trades (independent councel business)
i want to have an internship in USA this summer in a film company.
thanks
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Wooden Camera

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Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

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