Get the 4-Step Framework to Success

Enter your details below to watch a FREE training video on
our 4-step framework to success as a filmmaker

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time.

The Best Boy: Responsibilities and Skills Required

by Clarke Scott | Last Updated: August 31, 2021

In the film industry, there are many titles that can be confusing or misleading. One of these is the title “Best Boy.” Most productions have a grip section and electric department. The electric department manages and runs the light throughout the film. The grip team is led by the key grip and is tasked with controlling the entire hardware rigging on site. The head of each department has every second in command called “Best of.” The best boy is called “the best,” and the best grip is called the best boy grip.

The best boy of a film crew is either a best boy electric or a best boy grip. The gaffer and the key grip are both second assistants who assist their department heads, the former in charge of electricals and the latter with lighting and rigging. The ideal boy represents the department’s foreman.

In this article, we will give you everything you need to know about the job title, the best boy in the film industry. 

What is a Best Boy

There are many responsibilities and skills required for this job title. The best boy is often a runner who assists the cinematographer in his work, such as moving equipment or changing lenses during filming. They also manage the assistant camera department to make sure that everything runs smoothly on set to capture all of the footage needed. These assistants sometimes have the responsibility of creating call sheets and camera reports to ensure everyone in the crew is informed about set requirements.

When filming, they focus on maintaining a high standard of work ethic to achieve excellence for each project that they work on. They must be able to adapt their skills with different equipment and situations and prioritize to be efficient with all tasks they are assigned. They must have a strong sense of responsibility and self-control because they are given many responsibilities that require them to maintain good work ethics on set.

Best Boys often start working as camera assistants or in other assistant roles before moving up the ranks. Best boys need to have a working knowledge of all the equipment onset to ensure that they can perform their job well. They also need excellent communication skills for delegating tasks and explaining instructions clearly, so everyone stays organized throughout filming.

What Does A Best Boy Do

The best boy is the second commander and manager, respectively grip and electrician team. Miguel Sanchez‘s extensive responsibilities include creating budgets schedules, hiring and managing the team keeping stock inventory, unloading and loading tools, supervising safety, and the like.

The Director of Photography will also discuss what the Director wants. With the Help of the Grip crew, the lighting is provided to the wishes of the DP and the Director. If an actor wanted additional light to shine in a scene, then Gaffer and his crew work to set the camera just right so the crew could get it right for the scenes. You can look through the job process in the videos below and watch interviews with the crew pictured by the film. Each step complements the Gaffer – the two departments that satisfy Director and DP.

Where Does the term Best Boy Come From?

A second explanation of the origins of “best boy” exists. Sometimes members of the grip and electronics department would go straight to each other and call for “Your Best Boy!” That is typically your second commanding officer or your best boy. Others claim the name derives from sailing jargon or perhaps the time of English apprenticeship. In any case, the name stuck to the original definition of the term “best man” or “best boy.” The term is used to this day in the film industry.

The best boy is a crew member who performs several duties onset, such as organizing equipment and managing assistants. He or she may also be responsible for filing call sheets to make sure everyone knows when they’re needed on set that day. During production, he or she may be responsible for grabbing equipment and standing in during shots. The best boy is typically a position in the camera department, although not always at the lowest level of that department’s hierarchy.

The best lighting and grip men are in charge of day-to-day operations. Their many responsibilities include the hiring, scheduling, and management of crew; the renting, ordering, inventory, and returning of equipment. Maintaining a clean workplace and fostering discipline among workers. Submitting time cards and other paperwork, loading and unloading production trucks, planning and implementing the lighting or rigging of locations and/or sound stages, coordinating with rigging crews and additional photography units—as well as handling relations with the other production departments, overseeing the application of union rules, and serving as the day-to-day representative of the department with the unit production manager and coordinator of their department.

During technical scouts, the best boy frequently accompanies or replaces the key grip or gaffer. When the key grip or gaffer is away from the set for whatever reason, the finest boy may cover for him or her during filming.1

Is it always the best boy?

For anyone who prefers such words, the term best boy was also used. For example, Sierra Hurst is credited in films like the Rise of Planet of the Apes as rigging best girl. The name has been used in reference to the many people who prefer it. Sometimes they are not the best or highest paid but still work hard and make a great contribution.

The term ‘best boy’ is traditionally used to refer to an assistant who works with one of two department heads (the key grip or Gaffer), which allows them to be responsible for making decisions that directly affect their respective crew members. The term arises from the fact that a department head’s best assistant is often called upon to help him or her in performing their duties.

Experience & Skills Needed to Become a Best Boy

A top Boy Grip should be successful in learning to communicate and deal with other guys. Regardless of work a person should take a good look at his body by eating properly and maintaining a positive fitness regime. Another attribute, whether natural or learned is attention to detail. Someone who has a natural inclination towards keeping detailed records who can manage people and has a good work ethic would be an ideal candidate for the best boy grip.

The work is a physically demanding job that also requires psychological endurance for an entire day of 12 hours onset. When you are in charge of everything you do, it’s very embarrassing when you ask your manager what he did. Also, the work is very unpredictable, you can not plan your day ahead. On top of that, it’s very difficult to meet new people and be social when you are already tired at home after a long day.

It takes more than just talent or dexterity with equipment – one also needs to have good time management skills because often times there isn’t enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

Career Path of a Best Boy

The best Boy Grip runs the Grip Department under the Key Grip and manages the Grips company. Herman explains the benefits of taking every opportunity for maximum experience and knowledge. After a few years, somebody needs a break and can do something about it. It is necessary to enjoy life but in the initial years, they won’t occupy time for rest. This early work ethic is a promise of future stability. It’s a production job so they interact with everyone but the departments they most closely collaborate with are the Electrical Department and the Camera Department.

Most people start from the bottom in the Grip Division, as a company Grip. Herman says he never recommends working free but that’s what’s kind of buried into the industry. If an offer is paid or unpaid these opportunities are all valued no matter how poorly. A Grip’s bettering will enable the promotion of the Best Boy Grip by a key Grip for faster and stronger production. Almost every Griper in the business has been the key gripes on any type of project in spite of working on only Company Grip or Best Boy Grips.

Salary of a Best Boy

The average salary for the best boy is almost $92,000 an year. Los Angeles Minimum wage is $600 daily for 12 hours. People are fewer offering students films or No budget passion projects. Music videos can fetch between $300 to $350 while commercials are much higher, as much as $450 to $550. In my 2nd year I made $300 – $600 a day. And now in my fourth and fifth year day rates are about $400. But the differences are different. A majority of indie-style features do not pay much. I continue to perform them and they’re around $200 a day.

Career Description

The Top Boy implements the creative decisions of the Key Grip with the rest of the crew. The key grip focuses on the creative side in the creation of light. It’s B.B.Grip’s job to know strength and weakness of their whole Grip department at every job. Managing gear, personnel as well as documents can make this one of the most physically challenging jobs on set. Some tasks require experience but some are good enough to help more untrained and experienced Grips according to best boy and key grip veteran Yohan Herman.

Origins of the Term Best Boy

The origin of the term Best Boy are quite unclear. The title makes a reference to films’ early days when heads of Lighting and Graphic Technology Departments requested Help from the ablest apprentice on the crew. At this moment in history most of his crew remained male and departments asked the “best boy” available. Today anyone can be Best Boy no matter his gender identity.

Additional Resources

Most job experience has been obtained through practice and one’s best option is getting in. The union only offers workshops to the union members. To get into business is to join an employment social networking site or Facebook page. Remember, many of their jobs are practical experience and learn how to do it through practical training.

Footnotes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_boy

Stay Ahead of Industry Trends

Just enter your email address. It's not hard. Click here if you need more convincing.

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time.

Get the 4-Step Framework to Success

Enter your email below to watch a FREE training video from our founder & CEO Clarke Scott on the 4-step framework for creating your own success.