Topics

“Best Boy” alternative

Matthew Clark
 

Hey gang. Thinking back to our great conversations about gender equity on set I’m reminded that the term Best Boy hadn’t been resolved with a gender neutral alternative. Have you heard of or has your local come up with a better title? Love to hear what is working and being accepted. Thx.


Matthew J. Clark • 206.200.3621
Director/DP Seattle, WA
(sent from my tiny pocket computer)

Mako Koiwai
 

What’s wrong with Best Boy … it has an endearing quality to it. Can be used for gals or guys.

If someone has a problem with it … they should Get Off My Lawn! hahahaha

Fine … Best Girl if necessary … but changing it any further takes away from the Caring Aspect of the job …



makofoto, ret. s. pas, ca

Fahnon
 

I'd vote for one that actually describes the job.  According to wikipedia: "In short, the best boy acts as the foreman for his department.", but even foreman has "man" in the title.  How about "assistant gaffer" for electrical and "assistant key grip" for lighting? 

On Fri, May 4, 2018 at 2:31 PM, Matthew Clark <str8films1@...> wrote:
Hey gang. Thinking back to our great conversations about gender equity on set I’m reminded that the term Best Boy hadn’t been resolved with a gender neutral alternative. Have you heard of or has your local come up with a better title? Love to hear what is working and being accepted. Thx.


Matthew J. Clark • 206.200.3621
Director/DP Seattle, WA
(sent from my tiny pocket computer)




--
Fahnon Bennett
Filmmaker/Photographer
Brooklyn, New York
323.375.4332

Graham Futerfas
 

Local 728 changed the Best Boy job title about 20 years ago to Assistant Chief Lighting Technician, or ACLT for short. At the time, I remember they were trying to get a “Tech” rating for the electricians, so they put the word “Technician” into all the job titles. Supposedly would get more money in the contract that way, I think?

Best,
-Graham


---
Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

ADAM HALL
 

But how did “Best Boy” come into common parlance...!? Such a great moniker imho

Best Wishes,

Adam

🇬🇧 

07970 802 019



What’s wrong with Best Boy … 



makofoto, ret. s. pas, ca
_._,_._._,_.__

Jared Hoy
 

You got an important job, you put your best employee/man/woman/boy/girl on it so you can trust the work.  Boy indicates employee or assistant, like a shop boy or a stable boy situation.

Jared Hoy
Los Angeles, CA
Director of Photography | CLT


On May 4, 2018, at 2:40 PM, ADAM HALL <halladam@...> wrote:

But how did “Best Boy” come into common parlance...!? Such a great moniker imho

Best Wishes,

Adam

🇬🇧 

07970 802 019



What’s wrong with Best Boy … 



makofoto, ret. s. pas, ca
_._,_._._,_.__

Robert L. Cunningham
 

Potentially ignorant comment to follow, but why not use know film parlance, and call them 
1st Assistant Gaffer and the 1st Assistant Key Grip?

-R

--
Robert L. Cunningham
Cinematographer 
Baltimore 

from here, there, or in the air, so please excuse my brevity, and any errors or autocorrects I didn't catch! 


On May 4, 2018, at 18:19, Jared Hoy <jared@...> wrote:

You got an important job, you put your best employee/man/woman/boy/girl on it so you can trust the work.  Boy indicates employee or assistant, like a shop boy or a stable boy situation.

Jared Hoy
Los Angeles, CA
Director of Photography | CLT


On May 4, 2018, at 2:40 PM, ADAM HALL <halladam@...> wrote:

But how did “Best Boy” come into common parlance...!? Such a great moniker imho

Best Wishes,

Adam

🇬🇧 

07970 802 019



What’s wrong with Best Boy … 



makofoto, ret. s. pas, ca
_._,_._._,_.__

David Fuller
 

We have, for a long time now, referred to them as “2nd”

As in “We’ll need a Gaffer and Second plus two electrics.”

That works because we consider the Gaffer to be the first electric.


David Fuller
207-415-1986

On May 5, 2018, at 8:15 AM, Robert L. Cunningham <rlcunn2@...> wrote:

Potentially ignorant comment to follow, but why not use know film parlance, and call them 
1st Assistant Gaffer and the 1st Assistant Key Grip?

-R

--
Robert L. Cunningham
Cinematographer 
Baltimore 

from here, there, or in the air, so please excuse my brevity, and any errors or autocorrects I didn't catch! 


On May 4, 2018, at 18:19, Jared Hoy <jared@...> wrote:

You got an important job, you put your best employee/man/woman/boy/girl on it so you can trust the work.  Boy indicates employee or assistant, like a shop boy or a stable boy situation.

Jared Hoy
Los Angeles, CA
Director of Photography | CLT


On May 4, 2018, at 2:40 PM, ADAM HALL <halladam@...> wrote:

But how did “Best Boy” come into common parlance...!? Such a great moniker imho

Best Wishes,

Adam

🇬🇧 

07970 802 019



What’s wrong with Best Boy … 



makofoto, ret. s. pas, ca
_._,_._._,_.__

kate phelan
 



On May 5, 2018, at 8:28 AM, David Fuller <david@...> wrote:

We have, for a long time now, referred to them as “2nd”

As in “We’ll need a Gaffer and Second plus two electrics.”

That works because we consider the Gaffer to be the first electric.


David Fuller
207-415-1986


when i was an electrician and besting, i HATED being called a best girl- i thought it was demeaning and confusing. best boy is a job title and if i’m not the best boy presumably someone else is. 
the worst thing about being a woman and being a best boy is that at least 3x/day the inherent sexism dawns on someone you’re interacting with and then he has to explain to you why you can’t have that job title- you’re a girl so how can you be a best boy!?! i mean, seriously folks.

aclt is a mouthful.
best electric works for me.



kate phelan
local 52/local 600 dp

Jonathon Sendall
 

Kate, I love shortened terms. Best Electric = Best E = Besty!

Jonathon Sendall
DP, London, UK

On Sat, 5 May 2018 at 14:15, kate phelan <katephelan@...> wrote:


On May 5, 2018, at 8:28 AM, David Fuller <david@...> wrote:

We have, for a long time now, referred to them as “2nd”

As in “We’ll need a Gaffer and Second plus two electrics.”

That works because we consider the Gaffer to be the first electric.


David Fuller
207-415-1986


when i was an electrician and besting, i HATED being called a best girl- i thought it was demeaning and confusing. best boy is a job title and if i’m not the best boy presumably someone else is. 
the worst thing about being a woman and being a best boy is that at least 3x/day the inherent sexism dawns on someone you’re interacting with and then he has to explain to you why you can’t have that job title- you’re a girl so how can you be a best boy!?! i mean, seriously folks.

aclt is a mouthful.
best electric works for me.



kate phelan
local 52/local 600 dp

Billy McCreary
 

On May 5, 2018, at 9:15 AM, kate phelan <katephelan@...> wrote:

i HATED being called a best girl- i thought it was demeaning and confusing. best boy is a job title and if i’m not the best boy presumably someone else is. 

Progressive 

On May 5, 2018, at 9:15 AM, kate phelan <katephelan@...> wrote:

then he has to explain to you why you can’t have that job title- you’re a girl so how can you be a best boy!?! 

Primitive 

bMac

DP | EDIT | VFX | TAMPA

Matthew Clark
 

Kate, your explanation and thought is the kind of input I was hoping for. We can’t fall back on old parlance or monikers. We can’t diminish the value of the role either, but we need something that isn’t demeaning. I like Best Electrician, even Best-E.

I think Kate explained to you all why Best Boy and Best Girl don’t work and what’s wrong with them.

Matthew Clark
Director/DP
Seattle, WA

pruittyallen@...
 

The old story regarding the name "best boy" is that studios would keep a pool of workers available in a central location on their lot to go fill needs on different productions as they arose.  When a production was in need, they'd call down to the labor pool and say, "Send me your best boy".

Brian Heller
 

“Best Boy” :-)

There were a great number of far more offensive terms and nicknames for crew and equipment that have been eliminated from the lexicon, either due to the gear becoming obsolete or the aging out of that generation.  Believe it or not, grips and electrics did not always go to film school or even finish grammar school ;-) so short hand names for things was almost essential.  My favorite metonymy is “hammer” for construction grips, as in “ Call the hall. We’re going to need 4 more hammers tomorrow.”

However, the origin of “Best Boy” is perfectly straightforward; not surprisingly it comes from the days when it was all boys.  When advancing set-ups, the DP might send the Gaffer ahead with some crew and the ask the Gaffer to leave his “Best Boy” behind in case the DP needed to make a change, or if the Gaffer stayed with the DP, then they would send the “Best Boy”ahead  with some crew to advance the set ups.
The title stuck when crew people started to get screen credits.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP




On May 5, 2018, at 10:50 AM, pruittyallen@... wrote:

The old story regarding the name "best boy" is that studios would keep a pool of workers available in a central location on their lot to go fill needs on different productions as they arose.  When a production was in need, they'd call down to the labor pool and say, "Send me your best boy".

Tom Guiney
 

I think "best electric" is already somewhat common, at least within the department. We'd say that, or just simply, "best". E.g. "Who's besting on Thursday when you're not going to be here?" That said, I've never seen it on a call sheet. "Second" is probably the most apolitical way to say it. Just tell production/AD dept that's how you want it on the call sheet. They're often reasonable enough. Or, send a bunch of emails to the call sheet software people like. Change from within. It could happen.

Tom Guiney
Shoots, lights, makes inflatable softboxes.
Airboxlights.com / convictionfilms.net
Oakland, CA (sf bay area)

On Sat, May 5, 2018, 8:26 AM Matthew Clark <str8films1@...> wrote:
Kate, your explanation and thought is the kind of input I was hoping for. We can’t fall back on old parlance or monikers. We can’t diminish the value of the role either, but we need something that isn’t demeaning. I like Best Electrician, even Best-E.

I think Kate explained to you all why Best Boy and Best Girl don’t work and what’s wrong with them.

Matthew Clark
Director/DP
Seattle, WA

Matthew Clark
 

From Tom Guiney:   I think "best electric" is already somewhat common, at least within the department. We'd say that, or just simply, "best". E.g. "Who's besting on Thursday when you're not going to be here?" That said, I've never seen it on a call sheet. "Second" is probably the most apolitical way to say it. Just tell production/AD dept that's how you want it on the call sheet. They're often reasonable enough. Or, send a bunch of emails to the call sheet software people like. Change from within. It could happen.

Agreed, Tom.  In fact, I was shooting in your neck of the woods, SJC, when I made/started this thread.  We’re working on changing naming conventions to reflect our modern world.  I think Best can work or Second, for sure.  And in this case, since it was my job, production was more than happy to comply…in a very good, positive way.  

Thanks for your thoughts.


Matthew J. Clark
Director/DP 
Seattle, WA
www.StraightEIGHTFilms.com

Tehben Dean
 

If we followed convention employed in other departments then you could do something along the lines of 1st LT (lighting technician) and 2nd KG (key grip) or 1st AG (assistant grip) etc.

Best,
Tehben Dean // Cinematographer // www.tehbendean.com // (907) 299-8842 // Instagram: @tehben
 

Mark Weingartner, ASC
 

I missed the beginning of this.

My best boy or best babe or whatever for my last nine years gaffing in NY was a woman (she still is a woman, she just isn’t my best boy) She was not interested in changing the nomenclature at all, I would have been happy to.

These days? there is no reason to reinvent the wheel even as we are once again reinventing the light bulb with LEDs…

… If you want to use an acceptable gender-neutral term that is instantly comprehensible to anyone reading it (which spoils some of the fun, no doubt) you can use the term that the Hollywood Set Lighting Technician’s union local 728 uses in all its contracts etc:

The gaffer is contractually referred to as a CLT or Chief Lighting Technician
The best boy is contractually referred to as an ACLT or Assistant Chief Lighting Technician.

I don’t like the sound of "best electric" myself personally - partially because I am an old fart and I like the tradition that is associated with certain terms in different places… Best Boy being one, Gaffer being another (we’ve discussed that etymology here every few years) Clapper/loader being another… Lamp Operator…(really a name that hearkens to an era of operated arc lights) and partially because out here in LA at least, the Best Boy is NOT the best electric… not necessarily the best lamp operator or technician but rather the crew member with superlative organizational/logistic skills who is responsible for managing manpower and materiel as executive officer to the Gaffer or Chief Lighting Technician.

The Chief in Chief Lighting Technician/CLT/ and the Assistant Chief in ACLT speaks to the administrative duties, the same way a Teamster Captain is not necessarily the guy who can back a forty footer up a winding road in a snowstorm but rather the head of the department responsible for the logistical planning.

Harumph:-)

Mark Weingartner, ASC
Director of Photography
Cinematographer (for those who speak to the difference between the two)
Visual Effects Supervisor
Former CLT and sometime LD.
Los Angeles-based and actually got to shoot on three projects here so far this year… which means the next one is probably at least a 12 hour flight away...

Bob Kertesz
 

out here in LA at least, the Best Boy is NOT the best electric…
I dunno about that...

When I step on set, my first communication is always with the AD to get
a sense of what's going on and establish a working space for me, check
with the DP to see if the spot selected works for them (I always have
the best monitor), and right after that I seek out the Best Boy to ask
for a non-dimmable power drop that doesn't get turned off at lunch or
without checking with me first at the end of the day. Been that way,
more or less, for about four decades.

-Bob

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California

DIT, Video Controller, and live compositor extraordinaire.

High quality images for more than four decades - whether you've wanted
them or not.©

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Jordan Cushing
 

"Best Boy is NOT the best electric…"
"I dunno about that..."
I think Mark's point was only that their duties didn't require them to actually be the "best" electric.  Illustrated by his vivid example:  the same way a Teamster Captain is not necessarily the guy who can back a forty footer up a winding road in a snowstorm but rather the head of the department responsible for the logistical planning.
--
Jordan Cushing
DOP
London Milan