Understanding movie set electricity

Step up your gaffing game with these essential lighting and safety tips.

I recently made a short film in an AirBNB, a house that had been converted into multiple units.

Although it was a large house, we limited ourselves to a very small part of it, and the rest of the place was locked and closed to us.

As a top lighting technician, I always like to look at the control panel in a place where I use domestic electricity. In this case, the panel was in the basement to which we had no access. I knew if a breaker were to trip we would have to call the host and it would be potentially a hassle to turn the breaker back on. It was a lot of pressure to make sure the day went smoothly.

In this video, I’ll talk about Ohm’s Law and what you need to know to count your amps so you don’t trip a circuit breaker on your movie set. Let’s dive in.

To be prepared

Counting the amperage is one of the most basic tools any electrician will need on a movie set. Not only does your shoot depend on it, it’s a potential security risk.

If your set immediately goes dark it can be harrowing and dangerous for everyone on the set, and it can leave others in a dangerous position. Plus, things don’t look good on set.

Calculating your amperage requires a little math, and there are some specialized tools that can help. There’s also a shortcut to make your math easier so you don’t have to pull out a calculator on set. In this video, I explain in detail the basics of Ohm’s Law, how to calculate current, and what to look for in a control panel.

Do you have any additional tips filmmakers should know? Let the community know in the comments below.

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