Bollywood Filmictionary Gaffer

GAFFER: Earlier in our film industry, the chief light man, in charge of the lighting crew and lighting equipment he brought along, was known simply as Electrician. He worked for the company that hired out the lights to film units. He communicated with production, direction and camera units on behalf of the light men, and he was primarily responsible for everything connected with his department. In case a light malfunctioned or a barn door did not fit the light, he got the flak for it and it was his responsibility to set it right. His functions have remained more or else the same but he’s no longer known as Electrician…. In modern units, he is, in Bollywood, as in Hollywood, called the Gaffer.

He is, naturally, paid better wages than light men and, nowadays, it has become necessary for him to communicate in English too. In his own right, a Gaffer is the head of the department and treated well. Many times, when a Gaffer is good, a cameraman tends to order lights from his supply unit in order to have him on the set. In foreign units, a Gaffer enjoys a well-respected position. In Bollywood, the Gaffer has still some way to go before he is treated as the equivalent of a production head or head of the camera unit… but he’s getting there.

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