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What's a best boy?

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In a film crew there are two kinds of best boy: best boy electric and best boy grip. In the simplest forms, they are assistants to their department heads, the gaffer and the key grip, respectively.

Job responsiblities

On films with very small crews, the electric (lighting) department often consists of only a gaffer, a best boy, and a few electricians. The grip department may include only a key grip, a best boy, and a few grips. On very large crews these numbers can hit up to 12 or 24 grips or electricians per department and include full time rigging crews and additional photography units, depending on the situation.

Best boys are responsible for the daily running of the lighting or grip department. This encompasses many responsibilities including hiring and scheduling of crew, the ordering and returning of lighting or grip equipment, workplace safety, timecards, expendables, loading production trucks, planning and implementing the lighting or rigging of locations and/or sound stages, coordinating rigging crews and additional photography units (if applicable), handling relations with the other production departments, overseeing the application of union rules (if applicable), and serving as the main daily representative of the department with the unit production manager and coordinator of the film.

Word origin

The term "best boy" comes from the early studio days in which production crews were predominantly male. In modern productions, women serve in many of the different studio crafts. Female best boys are quite common, though they are still credited as "best boy".

The term also predates the film business; in the English apprentice system, the "best boy" was the Master's oldest, most experienced apprentice, and thereby given more responsibility than the others- in effect he was second person in charge, as a best boy grip or electrician is today, carrying out the Key Grip's or Gaffer's instructions.

As the gaffer is sometimes credited as the chief lighting technician, the best boy electric is sometimes credited as the assistant chief lighting technician.

Do you know what a Key Grip is? How about other jobs?

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