A gaffer is the chief lighting technician on a set and is the head of the electrical department
The term has been used for the chief electrician in films since the 1930s. The Oxford English Dictionary has a citation from 1936; a 1929 book on motion picture production also uses the term. Gaffer. 1580s, "elderly rustic," apparently a contraction of godfather (cf. gammer); originally "old man," it was applied from 1841 to foremen and supervisors, which sense carried over 20c. to "electrician in charge of lighting on a film set."
The gaffer is responsible for managing lighting, including associated resources such as labour, lighting instruments and electrical equipment under the direction of the director of photography
- Oxford English Dictionary accessed 15 May 2009
- Mary Eunice McCarthy, The Hands of Hollywood, 1929: 61.
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