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Here’s How to Nail Craft Services on Your Next Shoot

Paying attention to one’s physiological needs is often overlooked in the fast-paced set environment. That’s why it is crucial to have nearby nutritional accommodations at all times for the cast and crew. Members of craft services (often referred to as crafties) hold the responsibility of providing food and beverages for everyone on a set. This is no simple task and requires substantial planning, but when done properly, it keeps the cast and crew happy and energized. So how can you accomplish this? It all starts with finding the right location for a well-stocked “crafty table.”

The crafty table

The craft services table is the epicenter of any film set. It is where the cast and crew can get a quick snack or drink in between takes or during production breaks. The table(s) are often located in very close proximity to the live set so that if a grip needs to step out for a quick bite, they can return to their position in no time.

It is a strategic decision to find an appropriate location for the crafty table. It needs to be as close to set as possible without creating any disruptions to the production. It should not be an obstacle in the way of the set, but rather a conveniently placed oasis that anyone on set can easily reach. It is critical that you keep the contents of the table organized in rows so that the cast and crew can quickly find what they want to eat and return to work.

During a production break, the crafty table will suddenly become swarmed by all members of the set. Be sure to plan routes around the table that allow for easy access and a clear exit back to set.

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Allergies and dietary restrictions

It is the crafty’s responsibility to accommodate for any and all food allergies or dietary restrictions the cast and crew members might have. Members of the set that have allergies or dietary restrictions are often listed on the call sheet (the production schedule created by the assistant director). If you are unable to find information on who might have an allergy or dietary restriction on the call sheet, make sure you reach out to the assistant director for that information beforehand.

Another alternative if you cannot contact the assistant director is to reach out and ask how you can accommodate each person individually. Everyone’s phone number who is involved on the set should be in the call sheet. It is extremely important to label each food that is on the table to avoid any cross-contamination. Keeping the crafty table labeled and organized will save you from putting anyone on set in harm’s way.

Be a smart crafty

When figuring out what snack foods deserve real estate on your crafty table, try to seek out nutritional choices. Granted, a plate of junk food or candy looks far more desirable than a veggie spread for most, but be aware that junk food alone will not sustain the cast and crew, and will most likely have them regretting their snack choice by the end of the workday.

It is a smart decision to have diversity among the food groups on your table so that everyone is provided an option. It is impossible to keep set morale high if the members of the cast and crew have not satisfied with their individual hunger needs. Below is a list of nutritious snack options that will keep your cast and crew fulfilled:

  • Assorted fresh fruits
  • Hummus with pita bread
  • Cheese spread with crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Baked chips
  • Vegetable platter
  • Trail mix with dried fruit
  • Regular and chocolate-covered pretzels

Beverages

No beverage is revered in the film community more than coffee. It is the energy stimulating lifeblood of most productions; without it, the attitudes on set can become slightly hostile. Just as having a surplus of water on your crafty table is critical, having a surplus of coffee is just as important to a degree. Be mindful that coffee is a diuretic and can make members of the set dehydrated, so be sure to encourage everyone to grab a water bottle or refill their reusable ones before they walk back to set.

Fruit juices are also a viable beverage option that provides vitamin C and potassium for your table. Canned sodas are commonly seen on crafty tables, however, they contain an unnecessary amount of sugar and are not a healthy substitute for the other beverages listed.

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Working on a budget

The production will provide you with a budget for how much you are allowed to spend on food and beverages. The size of this budget varies from production to production and, in most microbudget cases, one has to be economical with their choices in the snack aisle. To stay frugal, it is key for craft services to buy in bulk for this is cheaper in the long term. Refrigerate and save any leftovers, then use them for the next production day.

Craft services vs. catering

Craft services members are not responsible for providing full meals for the set, which is the responsibility of a catering service or restaurant. The craft services table exists to provide snackable food and beverages at all times for the cast and crew while they are working. This is a common misconception; however, under some circumstances on low-budget sets, the assistant director might ask craft services to prepare a full meal. Be sure to stay in communication with the assistant director to fully understand what they are expecting from you.

Learn and adapt

Take every new experience you have on set as a learning opportunity. If you notice people aren’t eating a certain type of food, then do not buy it again. Save that money from the budget for something that seems to be more desired on set.

It is easy to reject all junk foods when searching for the right items for your crafty table, but it is more important to listen to what the cast and crew actually want to eat. It is okay to invest in some comfort foods as long as there is an equal amount of nutritional substitutes. Keeping everyone satiated on set is a priority, and achieving this means you will be succeeding as a crafty.

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