3 minute read


Job Title: Generator Operator, Genny Operator

Job Overview

The generator operator ensures that the generator is functioning at the proper cycle and voltage to keep the lights on the set lit, handles basic maintenance of the diesel engine that powers the generator, and drives the vehicle that carries it. (Note: an electrician may sometimes be called upon to run the generator.) Typically, a generator is used for location shooting where there are insufficient quantities or no electricity available.

Special Skills

Genny operators must be mechanically inclined, possess the ability to handle minor repairs of diesel engines, be a member of the Teamster's union, and have the skill to maneuver large tractor-trailers through congested areas. “Driving a tractor-trailer in cities is not the easiest thing to do, especially the ones we use, with a generator mounted on it,” says genny operator Bobby Jones. “They look like a normal truck, but the tractor is usually longer than a normal truck, extended out to have enough room to carry all the equipment we need.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

Working for a rental house that provides vehicles and equipment for productions is one way to land a job driving for a film company. The experience also affords you an opportunity to learn about lighting equipment and other gear the company provides. If you already have a commercial driver's license and experience driving trucks, contact transportation captains and let them know you are available.

Professional Profile: Bobby Jones, Generator Operator

Eleven years ago, Bobby Jones discovered that his driving skills could be directed toward a career in film and television.

He learned to drive trucks right out of high school and honed his skills driving for a logging contractor, maneuvering a tractor-trailer through the woods. He went on to work in construction, building houses and sometimes driving trucks.

What do you like least about your job?

“My least favorite thing is the hours we work, especially when we're working all nights. Sometimes on night shoots you work all night for two or three weeks at a time. You're not conditioned to stay up all night and sleep during the day. That's my least favorite thing.”Bobby Jones

What do you love most about your job?

“I just enjoy the work itself. I have never worked in an office atmosphere and I don't like being inside a building continuously. I like being outdoors. Most of our work is on location and a lot of it is out of town. I like that we get to go to a lot of places that normal people wouldn't. I like to see what goes on behind the scenes.”Bobby Jones

The girlfriend of a former schoolmate introduced Jones to filmmaking when she employed him to assist her with wrangling animals for various productions. When the school friend got into transportation, he employed Jones to drive the truck that pulled the hair and makeup trailer. He gave up construction soon afterward to devote himself to driving for film and television productions.

At the time Jones began driving, Virginia was a “right to work” state and did not require him to be a Teamster. As more production came into the state, it eventually became necessary for him to join the union. He learned to run a generator from watching the genny operators of the productions he worked on.

Jones's first full time film work was the television movie My Name Is Bill W., starring James Woods and James Garner. Work on Love Field, The Contender, Kingpin, Beverly Hills Ninja, Hearts in Atlantis, and many features and television series followed.


* Once on set, pay attention to what others do and if the opportunity presents itself, learn new skills from those working on set. Jones was working as a driver when he learned to run a generator.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in Film and TelevisionLOCATIONS AND TRANSPORTATION - Job Title: Location Manager, Job Title: Transportation Coordinator, Job Title: Transportation Office Coordinator Or Transportation Accountant