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Chad Terpstra

What is my credit for this job?

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Hi there. Recently I was hired to light a higher budget, 7-day short film. We had a DP, camera operator, gaffer and myself. In our conversations before the shoot we determined that I would be making creative lighting decisions to create the mood they were after (Director & DP). So on the shoot I had control over the lighting and worked with the gaffer to make it happen, discussing motivation and mood with the director. The camera operator, DP and/or director found the frame, we (gaffer and myself) lit the scene how we wanted, then the DP would come back and sometimes make a tweak or two, then they shot it. What was I?

 

Going off the English System I gave myself the title of Lighting Cameraman and they were cool with that and I can use the footage on my DP reel. Is this what best describes the role? Another idea tossed around was Lighting Director but I haven't heard of that being used in film very much. I appreciate your knowledge and insight.

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I guess Lighting camerman works...are you in the UK? If not, I don't think it really applies.

It sounds more like you were the gaffer to me. Why did they give the "gaffer" that credit?

Lighting Director would work too, but that's basically the same thing as gaffer and isn't used as much.

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It sounds like you were the gaffer to me and the credited gaffer was more of a 1st electric.

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Guest Tim Partridge

Lighting consultant. I am sure the "DP" is not going to appreciate the acknowledgement that you actually lit his film!

 

Usually in these kinds of situations it's your name in the SPECIAL THANKS section. If not, "Lighting Consultant", and I have heard of such situations exactly the same as this one before.

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Why did they give the "gaffer" that credit?

 

Because he was the one actually doing the job of the gaffer. He was giving feedback on what would be the best units, how things would be rigged, assigning jobs to G&E crew, and before we had a best boy for the last two days, he managed the power. It was a very small crew -just myself, the gaffer, and two grip/electrics for most of the shoot. I was functioning as the DP but just on the lighting side. And of course since I had no camera department to worry about, after I decided on the look and the plan was laid out I helped set lights and wrap gear. But I asked our gaffer what he wanted help with.

 

I know it's a weird situation and I knew that going into it. We agreed ahead of time that I'd be in charge of the light portion of the image and would have suitable credit. I just don't know what's the most legitimate. Is there anything that people would see and say, "Oh, they're half responsible for the way this picture looks. Neat." Anything? Lighting Consultant seems a bit weak but if that's the only thing people use in this situation I guess I'm stuck with it. What would you think if it were Lighting Cameraman? Splitting DP credit seems silly also.

 

Thanks again, guys. I'd love to be able to salvage something from this besides the paycheck. ;)

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At least you got the check!

I would say that lighting cameraman would be closest and/or lighting consultant. I had the same situation before, and for that they gave me "lighting director," in the film, but that was a student production.

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Guest Colin Oh

Lighting Design? Chief Lighting Technician (although that is pretty much the same title as Gaffer)?

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Guest Evan Pierre

Ensemble Photography: You + The DP

 

it sounds like both of you had a creative hand in the lighting, right?

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How about "Director of Photography:Lighting". I know it's not a real term, but There was an instance where I was on a set, and the DP was not comfortable lighting at all, so they "promoted" me from gaffer to DP of lighting, and he became DP of camera(he didn't want any credit for lighting). He was solely focused on camera, and I was solely focused on lighting.(having complete creative control.) I suppose it was a co-DP senario.

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What gaffer would work for a DP who has no idea how to light? A gaffer can help technically of course but a huge degree of the art of cinematography rests in the lighting. There's a great documentary about this called "Visions of LIght, the art of Cinematography"

 

Notice it's not called, "The art of gaffing"

 

I find it really annoying when I see ads for "Lighting Designer" on a film. Cause that's the DP position.

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In the UK Lighting Cameraman is the same as DP, it's just a different name for the same job. It's gone out of fashion, traditionally a DP worked on higher end productions, but it's still a union grade here and I suspect most camera people come under it on their BECTU union card. However a number of feature films in the past used the lighting cameraman credit instead of director of photography. The gaffer is the chief electrician

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'Lighting Designer' and 'Chief Lighting Technician' are the two terms I've seen used here in Australia to cover similar situations.

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