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HANDOUT – What Does A Best Boy Do?

Taken from: Candida Baker The Age Newspaper, September 18,


This handout will help you understand the jobs of the crew when out on set.
But as an actor you have to prepare for working on set. So ask yourself: How
do you prepare, what do you take with you, what are your expectations, how
do you conduct yourself, what are your travel arrangements, (agent)
confirmation of details, what are the expectations of extras, bit parts, lead,
crew, how to understand the hierarchy of working within a production?

Have you ever watched a movie, stayed for the credits and wondered what on
earth a best boy does? Now is your chance to find out. After several days on
the set of ‘Gino’, a film recently shot in Sydney, written by comedian Vince
Sorrenti and starring Nick Bufalo, Nico Lathouris, Zoe Carides and Bruno
Lawrence, we’ve come up with some definitions that may (or may not) remove
some of the mystery.

First Assistant Director (1AD) – Marcia Gardner

Gardner describes herself as keeping the director happy. “I make sure she
gets coffee or tea when she wants it and I take all her messages – just
generally keeping and eye open for anything that I can do.”

Second Assistant Director (2AD) – Geoffrey Guiffre

‘Gino’ was Guiffre’s second job as second assistant, Chris Webb, informed
about the actor’s process before shooting and to liase between the office and
the set, “I suppose really I’m a glorified office-boy”, Guiffre says, “but I enjoy

Third Assistant Director – Tanya Jackson

The third assistant is responsible for the extras. She has to sign them on and
off, and ensure they have food and drink. The first and third assistants work
on the set together and the second works off the set.

Producer – Ross Mathews

“I read the papers and stare out of the window,” Mathew says, cheerfully.
When he’s not reading or staring, Mathews is in charge of developing and
funding the project from initial script stage to the finished product.
“Depending on the style of producer you are and on the project, you may be
hands on – in which case you involve yourself with everything, or hands-off, in
which case you deal with the money,” Mathews says. Almost as important as
the money is the producer’s ability to draw together the right people for the
production. “It’s exciting to try and create the best team possible to realise to
the director’s vision,” Mathews says, “and that’s where years of experience
will pay off.”

Assistant Producer – Maria Moore

Maria Moore was the general assistant to Ross Matthews on ‘Gino’,
answering the phone and looking after the mail. The producer’s assistant is
not involved in the day-to-day running of the film but is essential to keep the
producer in a calm enough state to stare out of windows.

Production Manager – Sally Ayre-Smith

“The biggest responsibility?” says Ayre-Smith, “That’s easy. Making sure the
production comes in on budget.” Ayre-Smith provides a balancing act –
carefully weighing up possible whims versus true needs. “If I had to use one
word to describe my job it would be mother”, she says. Not for the faint

Production Designer – Chris Kennedy

The production designer designs the look of the film. Everything we see on
our screens, from salt and pepper shakers to cars, is chosen or approved by
the production designer.

Art Department Coordinator – Christina Norman

An art department coordinator keeps tabs on everything that comes under the
art department’s administration, including such basic items as petty cash and
bills for that suddenly urgent – and expensive car the director has decided
she/he wants for a particular shot.

Standby Props – Robert Moxham

Robert Moxham has a magical mystery tour van full of magical goodies such
as smoke machines and spritzer machines (for water). Secateurs, garden
hoses, hand pumps – you name it, Moxham’s got it.

Set Dressers and Prop Buyers –Leanne Cornish, Janine

Ranford, Jane Murphy and Glen Johnson
They buy anything that the production designer needs for the set. They
hire/buy/borrow/scam it and, at the end of the film they organize the film sale
where everything is sold off, apart from what they’ve hired or borrowed, of
course (Note to bargain hunters, film sales are an excellent source of cheap

Key Grip – Lester Bishop

Grips are responsible for the safety and movement of the camera, dollies,
cranes and car rigs, according to Lester Bishop. “If a movie goes on location
to a jungle, for instance, then the grips are the ones who have to carry the
gear.” Not surprisingly, Bishop has a handshake that would make Arnold
Schwarzenegger weep.

Assistant Grip – Terry Cook

The assistant grip works under the key grip, helping to organize and carry the
camera gear.

Gaffer – Matt Slattery

At last, the mystery of the gaffer is revealed. The gaffer owns a truck full of
lights worth hundreds and thousands of dollars. The DOP (look it up) tells the
gaffer how he wants the scene lit and the gaffer lights every shot you see. He
also adjusts real light and creates artificial light.

Best Boy – Greg Allen

The best boy is not the best man’s younger brother; he is the gaffer’s
assistant. The best boy organizes the lighting towers, all the leads for the
lights and the generators needed to run the lights. The extension cables can
run into thousands of feet.

Electrician – Bo Slattery
The electrician is the best boys and the gaffer’s assistant. One of his/her
duties is to look after the thousands of feet of tape needed to mark out where
the lights will be placed.

Continuity – Jo Weeks
“I represent the editor on the set”, Week says, “I have to look out for the
overall look of the film – the set, hair, make-up, and wardrobe – and make
sure there is nothing out of place.” Weeks says that many of the minor
continuity mistakes seen on our screens are not the fault of the continuity
person but because the director chooses different pieces of film to splice,
which occasionally don’t quite gel.

Caterer – Marike Janavicius

Janavicius runs the place where everybody goes for tea, coffee, cake and a
sympathetic ear. Food has changed a lot in the past 10 years or so, when
one course was enough, now Janavicius’s menu can feature navarin of lamb,
barbecue chilli calamari and macaroni Russian-style. A caterer needs to have
his/her fully equipped catering van – which doesn’t come cheap.

Boom Operators – Fiona McBain and Gerry Nucifora

The boom operator’s job appears to be simple – keeping the sound
microphone above the edge of the frame and not too close to the actor. In
fact, it is anything but simple and requires years of training to master it. Just a
millimeter too close and the boom will be seen in the shot – remember “Wall
Street”? A millimeter too far away and the actor won’t be heard clearly.

Sound Department Attachment – Michael Taylor

An “attachment” works on a film for free. It’s a dedicated but surefire way of
getting into the film business – if you’re good.

Film Sound Recordist – Gunter Sics

The sound recordist is responsible for getting on tape everything that the
camera shoots – all the raw materials for the sound mix. “Anything the
camera sees must go in,” Sic says, “So if there’s seagulls, I get seagulls; if
there’s people eating, I get people eating.” Not to mention every word of
dialogue, of course.
Stills Photographer – Corrie Ancone
Ancone has worked as a photographer for 17 years. “My job is to document
every moment of the film that may be needed for publicity in photographs,”
Ancone says. The competition is intense in this area which is well paid if
some-what exhausting. “Mess up one job and you’re out,” she points out as a
warning to anyone out there thinking of hitting the freelance maelstrom.

Accounts Assistant – Michael Foster

The accounts assistant looks after the petty cash, pays the crew and does the

Unit Publicist – Victoria Buchan

The publicist’s job is to keep everybody involved in the marketing of the film
happy – the actors, the director, the producer and the media. No easy task,
particularly when the needs and desires of one group rarely coincide with the
other. “You have to be patient”, Buchan says, “particularly with the press.”

Unit Manager – Bob Graham

The unit manager looks after the day-to-day needs of the set.

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