Making a movie is a massive task with so much staffing and technology. The journey begins with the story and continues step by step. There is much process between the story writing and the movie’s final release. It includes hiring staff for different fields such as direction, production, lighting, camera department, creative team, and others unfamiliar to ordinary people. Even in a single department, there are many subdomains, for example, in the lighting department. So many technicians handle outdoor lighting, indoor set lighting, and the lights according to the scene being shot.
The technicians in the lighting department should take care of the background lights so that they are not awkward for the camera. The light should enhance the scene by supporting the actors but not influencing them. In scenes shot inside a film set or a building, the lighting department makes necessary arrangements for the lights according to the narration they get from the direction team. The Lighting team aims to give “the Cinematic Lighting” to the movie. The Cinematic lighting is different from the standard lighting setup. It is beyond that and adds more depth and drama with indoor and outdoor lighting.
There are different roles given to each member of the lighting department.
Role of different people in the lighting department
Gaffer is the captain of the ship for the lighting department. They are in charge of all the electrical work done, instruct other technicians about the placement of the lights, and lead the team. They work with the director to visualise the exact look they are trying to picture. This needs much expertise to imagine something imaginary and bring it to life, a considerable task.
Best Boy is the assistant chief lighting technician, and their main work is to coordinate with the other technicians in the team and do the paperwork regarding the pieces of equipment they arranged for the scene. There are different equipment for indoor lighting and outdoor lighting. They also should note the working condition of all the equipment they are using and the operating hours of other team members so that they are paid accordingly.
Sparks is the common name given to the lighting operator. Their responsibility is to provide the power supply with appropriate lighting. They also need to set up the lights before a scene is ready for the shoot. They need to carry the equipment so that in the outdoor shoots, the lighting in the surroundings may dominate the actors, so to maintain the balance with the outdoor lighting, they use some reflectors. Reflectors are used to redirect light onto an object or a person in the studio and outdoor shootings.
Genny Operator, the name itself implies that their role is to operate something, which is nothing but the generator. A generator is one of the integral pieces of equipment in filmmaking. Maintaining an undisturbed flow of working with a 24/7 electricity supply is impossible in all locations or places; the generators are required in the movie sets. Sometimes the shoots take place in outdoor areas like roads, hills, or waterfalls where there is a high risk of continuous power supply, so the genny operator has to load the generator to supply the power.
The lighting can change the whole atmosphere and the tone of a scene. Even the misplacement of a single light can change the mood. So this field needs experienced people with creativity as they should know light structure. A lighting technician should be able to study the location, whether it is indoor or outdoor. They should work with the direction team and portray what they have imagined during the narration.