Qualities: What you need to be able to do the job
well qualified electrician. Technical ability, a level headed approach - you may be dealing with highly-strung people under challenging and pressured conditions.
All members of the Lighting team must have a deep knowledge of, and sympathy with, what is required and what can be achieved in terms of lighting for each production, in any particular studio or location. Gaffers must know how the Lighting plan will work, or how it can be adapted, to preserve the original concept. They must be able to interpret Lighting plans, including all aspects of the rig, scale drawings of all lamps and their positions, and what lighting gels and circuits to use. They must also ensure that the rig is achievable in the time available. Gaffers need to be able to work effectively with members of their own team, and with all others involved in the production process.
Key skills include:
a wide knowledge of television lighting and associated equipment;
an understanding of all aspects of television production;
knowledge of electrical theory and practice;
excellent IT skills;
adaptability and resourcefulness before and during the production process;
a logical and fast approach to problem solving;
good communication, interpersonal and team skills;
patience, self-discipline and reliability;
diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists, other contributors, members of the public and all crew members;
willingness to work long and irregular hours;
ability to undertake physically demanding tasks;
ability to concentrate for long periods of time and to pay attention to detail;
good colour vision;
a thorough knowledge of the relevant Health and Safety requirements and legislation, and the ability to carry out risk assessments.
Career path: How you start and where you can go with it.
Lots of location experience in any of a number of roles.. but followed by a good stint as an electrician/sparks, and eventually reaching the responsible position of Gaffer.
Essentially, Gaffers must be experienced Lighting personnel, having started their careers as Lighting Electricians, progressing to Best Boys*, and to Gaffers. Many Lighting Electricians are general electricians with specialised Health & Safety training and relevant electrical qualifications. Generator drivers may also move into the Lighting department. Gaffers may ultimately become Lighting Directors. "Gaffer"