What is a Genny Operator and What are Their Responsibilities on Set?
Otherwise known as the Generator Operator, the Genny Operator’s role is to work within the lighting department and maintain the operation of electricity generators that feed power to set locations during production. A lighting technician may choose to become a Genny operator after training and work experience on the set. Genny operators transport the generators to locations that otherwise may lack electricity such as the desert, in a private area of the woods, or at sea on a boat.
Sometimes generators are required to feed power to equipment that otherwise would draw too much power from the existing electrical supply. Generators supplement existing power to facilitate operation of specific equipment such as satellite dishes or lamps that require excessive power. Working in the garage department of the lighting company, Genny operators learn how to operate the vehicles that are used to transport the generators to and from the filming location.
Genny Operator Responsibilities
Genny Operators have the primary responsibility of loading the generator, transporting it to the location of the film shoot, and ensuring that it is fully operational before production commences. They perform routine maintenance on the generators to ensure they continue to operate properly and sometimes carry out basic maintenance on the vehicle that is responsible for transporting the generators as well. Genny Operators are also responsible for understanding the production lighting and power needs so that they can ensure the chosen generator meets the specifications required for the production.
Genny Operator Skills
Various skills relative to that of a qualified electrician are required of a Genny Operator. While an electrician can operate a small generator of up to 20KW, the operation of large generators requires a specialist. Specialist Genny Operators have a full HGV License that allows them to legally transport these high power machines to and from the locations where filming will take place.
Insurance regulations require Genny Operators be at least 21 years old and have strong knowledge of the various range of generators used for different needs and purposes. Most Genny operators have experience working with diesel engines and they possess strong mechanical skills.
Genny Operators are practical problem solvers that must often work in difficult situations. The demands of this job can vary based on film location and individual circumstances which are often unknown until right before production takes place. Due to the risks of working with electricity, Genny Operators must have deep awareness of the occupational Health and Safety laws and procedures to ensure that they remain safe and keep others safe on the set.
The Crew Film Crafts uploaded a fantastic video about the roles in a lighting department, including a Genny Operator: