Best Boy Grip

  • Best Boy Grip

The assistant to the key grip is the best boy, responsible for supervising the department technicians. This moniker applies to both male and female technicians, and is derived from the pre-union days of film when the elevated rank was granted conditionally to the best and brightest on the team.


Duties

The grip department on set is under the ultimate management of the DP, and is responsible for elements of scenery, lighting and camera movement. During preproduction the best boy may participate in ordering rental equipment and expendables and hiring personnel. During principal photography the key grip works closely with the DP to decide on the set-up and equipment necessary for each shot; it is then the best boy’s task to manage the crew in the use of light-cutting accessories like reflectors, gels, and diffusion equipment; the placement and operation of camera dollies and cranes; and the installation, movement, and strike of scenery.

The best boy also supervises crew through maintenance and repair of equipment and tracks inventory. He or she is responsible for ensuring that all rentals are returned on time, and that the right gear is in the truck and ready for each shot on the day’s schedule. In the event that a member of the crew is not pulling his or her weight, the best boy is tasked with correcting the behavior, and may be required to terminate the individual’s employment. Essentially, the best boy keeps the department running and the equipment working, allowing the key grip to concentrate on the needs of the DP.

Skills & Education

It is not required, but a college degree in film and television production is recommended. This education will give you both the theoretical and practical understanding of production, a firm knowledge of the gear, and experience that is invaluable to getting your first job. A grip should be mechanically inclined, and carpentry skills are useful; also, a good grasp of electricity is necessary. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is the union that represents these technicians. IATSE also offers apprentice-training programs.

What to Expect

Grips work as freelancers on a per-project basis. In television you may have the opportunity to work as a staff technician for the series, or you may be contracted by episode. To rise to the rank of best boy, you will need several credits to your name working in the grip department. The contacts you make on each production are your first source of future gigs. Do your best to develop a close working relationship with any key grip who is willing to mentor you. If you are able to impress these veterans with your strong work ethic, eagerness to learn, and passion, you stand a far better chance of moving forward in your career. The best boy grip is expected to set an example for the rest of the crew; you’ve got to take the long hours, extreme environments, and stressful days with grace. You will make the key grip’s life much easier if you keep the little stuff out of his or her hair. Put down squabbles among the crew, anticipate needs, and always have the right tool for the right job (remember, gaff tape fixes everything). Never go anywhere without a Leatherman or Gerber, and always look for ways to work smarter, not harder. You will be a rock star if you save the DP an hour of daylight because your crew has the next shot’s rig prepped and standing by the second the director calls “cut.”

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