Film Industry

Best Boy Guide: What Is A Best Boy & How Do I Become One?

Photograph of the blog post author, Dylan Easton

Dylan Easton

5.8.2021

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There are many working parts of a film set and the Best Boy is integral to the filmmaking process. The title seems to be a confusing one as it does not give too much away about the actual position. That’s why we’re here to break it down!

best boy on set

In this article, we will take a look at what a Best Boy is and what they do. Additionally, we will go through how to become a Best Boy, their salary, and where you can find a job. 

Be sure to stick around until the very end so you don’t miss out on any key information!

What Is A Best Boy In Film Production?

best boy on set

A Best Boy is the assistant to either the Gaffer or Key Grip on set. There are two types of Best Boys on set: one for electric (Gaffer) and one for lighting/rigging (Key Grip).

They are essentially the foreman for their respective departments. While the name is confusing, both men and women can be “best boys”, however, the title does not change.

What Does A Best Boy Do?

best boy on set

The Best Boy in film implements the creative decisions of the Key Grip and relays the information with the rest of the crew.

The Key Grip is responsible for the creative side of shaping light, so they need to be on set, near the Director of Photography.

The Best Boy Grip needs to anticipate what the Key Grip is going to ask to use. In large crews, a good Best Boy Grip will organise the company grips and divide up the workload for that given day. 

It is their role to get everyone working on specific jobs so the Key Grip can focus. Some tasks will require experience, however, others are good for teaching more inexperienced Grips.

It’s a Best Boy Grip’s job to know the strengths and weaknesses of the entire Grip Department. This way, they can get what the Key Grip needs so the task can be carried out as efficiently as possible.

In terms of equipment, the Best Boy Grip must know where and what is available regarding lighting or rigging purposes.

If an item is needed on set by the Key Grip, the Best Boy Grip needs to know if it’s on the truck or being used on another lighting set up. Gear can get lost very easily on set. 

They will also put in gear orders and take note if anything is broken. Coordinating gear, people, and paperwork make this an extremely demanding job.

Type Of Best Boy

There are a couple of different types of a best boy which we will touch on in this section.

Let’s take a look!

Best Boy Electric

best boy on set

This is probably the most open of the Best Boy roles. As the name suggests, the Best Boy Electric deals with any and all electronic equipment on set.

Film sets have a lot of electronics around so it is the responsibility of the Gaffer to make sure the safety protocols are closely followed.

The job requires a large variety of skills. Your responsibilities range from physically moving heavy equipment, to the hiring and budget of his crew. You will also have to be the go-between for various departments. 

Safety is a key part of the job. This not only means “safe from harm” but also “safe from doing harm”.  The Gaffer must make sure that no one is injured from the electronics.

When the Gaffer gets an order from the Director of Photography (DP) as to the wishes of the director, they must spring into action. The Best Boy will relay the orders to the rest of the electric crew.

After this, they must ensure everything is safe and in order, so they can then report back to the Gaffer.

Best Boy Grip

best boy on set

The other type is Best Boy Grip. This role is a bit more specific as it mainly involves the lighting of a set and what will be filmed.

Similar to the situation with the Gaffer, the DP will speak with the Key Grip to relay information as to what the director wants at that moment. 

After this, they will let their Best Boy Grip know so that they can all get to work on setting up the lighting.

With the help of the Grip crew, the lighting is set-up to what the Key Grip wants, as instructed by fthe DP and the director. This process from the lighting department compliments the Gaffer’s work, as both departments have to satisfy the DP and director. 

If a director needs more light in a scene, the Gaffer and crew work to set the camera up just right. This is so that the Grip crew can get the lighting perfect for the scene. 

How To Become A Best Boy

best boy on set

The majority of the time, people start out at the bottom in the Grip Department as a company Grip. If they prove their worth and show potential, then they will often be asked to do incrementally bigger projects. 

After some time, they could be asked for the Best Boy Grip on student films. While this is a step down in size of the project, it is a big step up in responsibility. 

After completing several of these, then they’ll move up to a student film with a budget. This step ladder of responsibility vs. budget will continue as their career develops. 

Almost every Grip who has been in the business has been a Key Grip on some type of project. Despite the fact that they may only work as a Company Grip or Best Boy Grip.

In order to become a grip, you will need to do the following:

  • Contact as many Grips, Best Boy Grips, and Key Grips as possible. Buy them coffee and have a conversation.
  • Be frank and honest about your skill sets. Don’t oversell when applying for a job.
  • Be teachable. People are willing to take someone under their wing, but not if that person believes they know everything.
  • Move to a city where lots of film production takes place.

Experience & Skills

When it comes to practical skills, an understanding of physics and a mechanical aptitude is crucial. You must also have a good physical work ethic since working in the Grip Department is a physically demanding job. 

The job requires a lot of mental endurance for a twelve-hour day of hard labor. It is crucial that a Best Boy takes care of their body, even between jobs.

This includes eating healthy and staying fit. Otherwise, this will be a miserable profession.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Best Boy?

best boy on set

A college education isn’t a necessity to become a Grip, but it can help. The most relevant courses would be in visual media, as well as in math and physics. 

The classes wouldn’t have to be too high of a level, nothing beyond calculus or physics. A fundamental understanding will help a person in rigging.

A lot of the concepts like objects, masses, ratios, and fulcrums are used every day by Grips. Therefore, any kind of applied physics degree could be useful but also not necessary. 

How To Become A Best Boy Without Qualifications

best boy on set

When you want to become the Best Boy without qualifications, you will have to start from the very bottom and work many hours.

When you decide to work in the Grip Department, your work schedule will be at the mercy of the jobs offered to you for the first few years. Jobs can be on any date, at day or night. 

You will want to take every opportunity because it maximizes your experience and will also improve your professional network. Having a larger network will give you greater control in the future.

In the beginning, it’s usually a feast or famine. This means you can end up working thirteen out of fifteen days. Life will be nothing but work, and then weeks off, with no promise of future employment. 

Once you are a bit more established, you will have to run finances a little differently, usually saving two to three months’ worth of expenses. This is in the case of a dry spell.

That early work ethic is an investment in future stability so be sure to prove your worth and work really hard.

Where To Find Best Boy Movie Jobs

movie set

You can find Best Boy movie jobs on any job searching platform. An alternative way is to get in touch with smaller, local directors and see if they need a hand working on set.

This is a great way to slowly build your network and gain experience. 

You could also reach out to Grip Companies who will employ you if you’re looking for an entry-level position as a grip. 

Best Boy Salary

money

The average annual salary for a Best Boy is approximately $92,000.

Los Angeles minimum wage is $150 or $160 per day, for twelve hours. People offer less for student films and no-budget passion projects. If someone needs experience, free labor can be an okay thing.

Now You Know How To Be A Best Boy

on set

There’s everything you need to know about how to be a Best Boy in film. We’ve touched on the role of a Best Boy in film and on a set and how they aid the Key Grip and Gaffer. Additionally, we looked at how to become a Best Boy in film and the multiple routes you can take. You should now have everything you need to know!

Are you the best boy? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this article, why not share it on your socials. Be sure to tag us in your post @musicgateway! 

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out another on our blog? Here are articles on What Is A Key Grip, Soft Light Vs Hard Light, and Movie Set 101 to get you started!

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