The best boy is a common term you’ll hear on a film set, so you’ll need to know what does a Best Boy do to understand the film crew you’re working with.
What is a Best Boy
In a film crew, there are two kinds of best boy: best boy electric and best boy grip.
Each of them is a part of the film crew working as a practical manager, supervisor or foreman for the electric department or lighting department. Best boys hold the responsibility of overseeing the everyday operations of the lighting or grip department.
The best boy electric works for the gaffer, who runs the electric department on set.
The best boy grip works for the key grip, who runs the lighting and rigging team on set.
A female best boy is often called the best girl.
However, the terms are undergoing change, as lead electric becomes more commonplace.
Where did the term best boy come from?
In 1931, the Albuquerque Journal explained the terms gaffer and best boy used amongst film crew electricians. This is the earliest known printed use of the term.
There are several theories about where the term came from, but no conclusive evidence.
Duties & Responsibilities
In the world of film and television production, the role of the best boy is pivotal to the smooth running of a shoot. Whilst the glamorous roles such as the director and producer may take centre stage, it is the unsung heroes such as the best boy who are responsible for ensuring everything runs seamlessly behind the scenes.
A best boy may not be a well-understood role outside the industry, but their roles and responsibilities are vast and varied.
They are the head electrician and assistant to the gaffer, responsible for helping to set up and maintain lighting equipment, cabling, and rigging on set.
They also work closely with camera departments, assisting on crane and dolly setups, moving equipment, handling expendables, and supporting the grip department.
They are responsible for various tasks which include employing and organising the crew, arranging and managing equipment rentals, maintaining workplace safety, ensuring discipline within their department, attending to paperwork such as timecards, managing expendables, loading and unloading production trucks, devising lighting or rigging plans for filming locations or sound stages, coordinating with additional photography units and rigging crews as needed, liaising with other production departments, ensuring adherence to union rules (when applicable), and acting as the daily representative of the department and coordinator of their department as needed.
Best boys often join or substitute for the head grip or lighting technician during pre-production site inspections. If the head grip or lighting technician are absent from the set for whatever reason, the best boy often stands in for them. That helps the production run smoothly, and also gets the best boy ready for the next rung up the career ladder.
Teamwork is essential and the best boy works closely with the lighting and grip departments to ensure all lighting requirements are met for each shot, making the best boy a crucial part of the production team.
Becoming a Best Boy
As the best boy on a film crew, one of your crucial duties and responsibilities is to aid the gaffer with set-ups and lighting, and make sure everyone else is working hard to achieve the same goal.
You will be working closely with the grips and lighting department, setting up and adjusting lights and equipment to create the perfect mood and atmosphere for each shot.
Your job is to ensure that everything is in place and ready for filming, so that production can run smoothly and efficiently.
Being physically fit and strong will be a great advantage in this role, so make sure to come prepared.
You will also need to be a team player and work collaboratively with the rest of the crew to get the job done right. You’ll be working closely with the grips and lighting crew, so having a positive attitude and clear communication is essential.
With your attention to detail and technical skills, you’ll play an important role in creating the best possible production.
Remember, your role as a best boy is essential for the success of each shoot, so be sure to bring your enthusiasm and dedication to every set-up and lighting assignment.
Maintaining Order and Organisation
As a Best Boy on a film crew, one of your key responsibilities is maintaining organisation and order in the workspace.
This is a vitally important topic for grips and lighting crews on set, who need clear and well-organized spaces to set up and move their equipment.
You’ll need to be proactive in keeping the work area clean and free of obstacles, including stray cables or equipment that could cause tripping hazards.
Beyond that, you’ll need to keep track of the equipment being used and make sure everything is returned to its proper place at the end of the day.
By keeping on top of these duties, you’ll not only help the rest of the crew work more efficiently, but you’ll also prevent frustrating and potentially dangerous disruptions during filming.
As a best boy of a film crew, you must be able to communicate with grips and lighting personnel, production assistants, and even the director of photography.
Your job is to coordinate the actions of the grip and lighting departments, making sure that all the equipment is in the right place at the right time.
Clear communication is paramount to this endeavour, as it ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Remember, the best boy role is a key leadership position, and clear communication can foster great teamwork and ultimately lead to the success of the project.
Take the Initiative
As a best boy in a film crew, you have an important role in making sure everything runs smoothly on set. One of your key duties and responsibilities is to take initiative in any task that needs to be done.
Whether it’s assisting grips with moving equipment, working with the lighting team to set up lights to achieve the correct effect envisioned by the director, or ensuring that all necessary cables are in place to ensure everything can work as soon as it is needed, taking the lead in these tasks can make a huge difference in the success of the production.
As a best boy, you are expected to be proactive, reliable, and efficient, while always maintaining a positive and helpful attitude.
Remember that the success of the entire crew is dependent on everyone doing their part, and taking initiative in completing your designated tasks will not only make your job easier, but it will also make you an integral part of the team.
Being a Best Boy
The best boys are an essential member of the film crew, and their role requires a lot of dedication and hard work.
They are responsible for ensuring that the lighting and rigging equipment is present, functioning properly, and all safety protocols are followed.
A best boy works closely with the key grip and gaffer, and their teamwork is essential to the success of any film production.
In summary, a best boy’s duties are vital to ensuring that a film production runs smoothly.