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Film job profiles/best boy

*aka Assistant Chief Lighting Technician, Assistant Chief Lighting Operator, or Assistant Chief Lighting Electrician)

The term Best Boy* comes from "The Gaffer's Handbook", an American publication, and refers to the best electrician in the team led by the Gaffer (Chief Lighting Technician).  Best Boys co-ordinate the team of Lighting Technicians, and deal with all the logistics and paperwork relating to the role.  They liaise between the production office and the lighting company, and relay information for the Gaffer.  Best Boys ensure that equipment is ordered, arrange its delivery, and ensure that it arrives in the right place at the right time.  They are also in charge of dealing with any damaged or malfunctioning equipment.  This is a senior lighting role, and varies according to the size of the production.  The Best Boy is the Gaffer's right hand person.

Responsibilities
Best Boys have specific responsibility for liaising with other members of the production team, e.g., the First Assistant Director, the Special Effects Director or the Art Director.  On location they may liaise with the building maintenance team,  or with the electrician in a particular building.  It is the Best Boys' responsibility to check the lighting team members' time sheets in order to verify the hours they have worked.  Best Boys issue written orders, and assist the Gaffer in co-ordinating the other lighting technicians in the team. The work is demanding, and the hours long and unpredictable.  Best Boys may work a six-day week, and up to 12 or 13 hours per day.

Skills
Lighting Technicians need several years working experience before becoming Best Boys, and it is unlikely that anyone would attain this position before reaching the age of 25.  They must be organised, able to motivate other team members and to communicate effectively with other production departments, as well as acting as the liaison with the lighting company.  Best Boys must be aware of Health and Safety legislation and procedures.

Qualifications/Experience
Best Boys are fully qualified and experienced electricians, with the relevant City and Guilds qualifications: C & G 2330 Part 1 & 2 Certificate in Electro-technical Technology, and C & G 2381 Certificate in the Requirements for Electrical Installation.  They may have gained experience in television or theatre, following their initial training, before working on films or commercials.  Many Best Boys work as freelancers and are self-employed, although in practise they often work with the same few Gaffers.

Individual course accreditation in certain subject areas is currently being piloted. As part of Creative Skillset's and the UK Film Council's Film Skills Strategy, A Bigger Future, a network of Screen Academies and a Film Business Academy have been approved as centres of excellence in education and training for film.

Where to go for more information
Creative Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database. Finally, Creative Skillset Careers is UK's only specialist media careers advice service; for detailed media careers information and advice, visit http://www.creativeskillset.org/careers/.

 

*This is a generic term and refers to both men and women practitioners.


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