Best Boy Electric Job Description: What Does a Best Boy Electric Do?
The best boy electric is the second in command to the gaffer and acts as the foreman of the electrical team. They supervise the daily operations of the electrical crew; make sure all cables, generators, and other important pieces of equipment are on set, working properly, and in their right positions for each shot; assign duties to the team and manage their schedules; prepare and handle all paperwork (including expenditures within the department); order and return gear; oversee the loading and unloading of production trucks; and monitor repairs, oversee pre-lighting on a set, and communicate what’s needed for each scene.
(The title is non-gendered, and comes from early film days when the head of the grip or electrical team needed an extra body and would ask the other for their “best boy.” There is also a best boy grip on the grip team.)
“I’m responsible for manpower and equipment, and all set power,” says best boy electric Miguel Sánchez (“Parks and Recreation,” “House of Cards,” “Thor”). “I make budgets [for] manpower and specialty equipment—lifts, cranes, anything needed to put lights in the air—or very special lights.... I’m entrusted with hiring and doing time cards, assigning people to different jobs.”
Grip + Electrical
Alternate Titles for Best Boy Electric
Assistant chief lighting technician
The best boy electric serves as the gaffer’s right hand and is in charge of the day-to-day productivity of the lighting department, which includes rigging electricians, set electricians, and lamp operators.
Best Boy Electric Salary
A best boy electric can earn $50,000 to $75,000 if they’re working regularly.
How to Become a Best Boy Electric
Most best boys start at the bottom of the electrical department as production assistants or electricians. It generally takes a few years of steady work and a strong professional network to move up to a best boy role and then, ultimately, gaffers.
That said, once you’re in with an electrical crew, they often stick together, with the gaffer bringing the entire team when they’re hired for a project. “When people employ me, what they are really hiring is the whole team,” says gaffer David Sinfield (“Wonder Woman,” “Thor: The Dark World”). “Most of my crew has been with me for the last 4-5 years.”
Best Boy Electric Required Experience + Skills
Nothing about the job of a best boy is easy. They work long, fluctuating hours, must juggle a million things at once, do heavy lifting, and be motivated and tireless. “It is a hard job, it’s physically exhausting. You have to be able to lift 100 pounds,” says Sánchez.
All of this, of course, on top of needing to be highly skilled as an electrician, a lighting technician, communicator, and administrator. A background in electrical engineering, mathematics, film and television production, and/or safety protocol is helpful in this line of work. Best boys also almost always need an electrician license and certification. (These are issued on a state—and sometimes county—level. State-by-state electrician license and certification requirements can be found here.)
For more on how to get work on a film crew, visit Backstage’s crew hub!