Food Fuels Creativity, How-to Treat Your Crew Right

August 2, 2019 Production, Behind-the-Scenes

While not the most glamorous, sustenance is a key factor in the production of any successful shoot

On the surface it might not seem as relevant as lighting or styling, but keeping everyone fed is essential and often overlooked. Healthy, handy food packed with nutrition will make for a hardworking crew that lasts the until the final shot. Putting together the ultimate Craft Service offering comes down to a few key points.

Cost
Healthiness
Cleanliness
Visual Appeal
Placement & Accessibility
The Afternoon Treat

Our top-tips for nailing craft services like a pro

#1 Be Cost-Considerate

Keeping a large number of people fed can get quite costly so it is important to carefully consider your budget. Ultimately it's a lot of food, so it is important to allocate the money strategically.

Buying in bulk and hiring catering service is much cheaper than doing a grocery store run and getting takeout from a local restaurant. Cost out the options carefully and go with the most affordable.

#2 Keep it clean

Make sure nothing served has the possibility of getting all over the set. This is so important. Everything should be easy to eat and not messy. Things with heavy sauce are difficult to eat on paper plates and people actually feel uncomfortable eating. For example instead of pizza opt for sandwich wraps, instead of sushi opt for Poke bowls.

#3 BE healthy-ish

Big carb-loaded meals make people tired and feel heavy.

#4 Plan a “surprise” snack.

 By 3 in the afternoon everyone tends to “hit a wall”. No matter how much coffee you’ve consumed at this point, nothing revs up a crew like a mini-serve of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (a genius trick pulled by a producer at my last shoot) or another novelty food product. Go for small indulgence here, nothing safe or healthy! Should be individual portions and able to eat standing up and devoured in a minute or less. 

#4 “Craft-y” Services Table

It is essential to have a variety of light snacks (I like to put all of the bars, gum, etc. in a large, open basket) of items that are available all day and restocked once per day. Think of this as a selection of grab-and-go items to replenish the energy of crew or staff who are unable to take breaks for meals or those that just need a quick pick-me-up. This can include:

  • energy bars
  • granola bars
  • chewing gum
  • mints
  • nuts & seeds
  • fresh fruit
  • cheese slices
  • string cheese (my fave)
  • pretzels
  • tortilla chips
  • cookies
  • hummus
  • individual chocolates
  • individual candies 

Coffee, Tea & Water

This is essential. Since we are running really long days and unable to leave set, this service should be hot and ready as early as humanly possible (or in-humanly possible) and available throughout the entire day.

  • Coffee
  • Decaf Tea Selection
  • Cream/Sugar
  • Still Water (I love “Just Water” in lemon, tangerine flavor)
  • Sparkling Water (La Croix or other similar brands)


Food Selection Ideas

Go for low sugar, high complex carb choices.

GREAT breakfast FOODS:

  • Granola or oatmeal with toppings
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Eggs sandwiches
  • Breakfast casserole

FANTASTIC LUNCH FOODS:

  • Sandwich Wraps & Salads (take orders during breakfast)
  • Cold Asian Salads
  • Toasted Sandwiches (I have a sandwich press I can bring in)
  • Rice Bowls
  • Broiled Chicken
  • Chicken Salad
  • Tuna Salad
  • Asian Dumplings 


Scheduling Meals

Carefully plan the main meals of the day by finding the optimum times that coincide with talent & shooting schedules. If your clients plans to be onset remember they are top priority. If needed, consider a unique menu & schedule for them and if they would prefer to eat with the crew or away from the fray.

Sample Meal Schedule for a Basic PhotoShoot

  • 8am Coffee & Rolls
  • 9am Breakfast
  • 11am  Mid-Morning Snack
  • 12pm  Lunch
  • 3pm Afternoon Coffee & “Surprise” Snack


Other Considerations

Once you have finalized all of the schedules, meals & food selections, try to include additional items that will make the process run smoothly. Often caterers provide cutlery & napkins, but it doesn't hurt to have a spare set close-by along with a few utilitarian basics.

CRAFT TABLE SUPPLIES

  • Table to put food on
  • Coffee maker - with filters & coffee grinds
  • Cups (Styrofoam for coffee & plastic for drinks)
  • Forks & Knives
  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Ice & cooler for drinks
  • Trash bags


Words of Planning Wisdom

  • Avoid heavy garlic/onion items. We are all working in close quarters and you can’t believe how much it stinks up the set!
  • Plan for any/all dietary concerns. Contact everyone who plans on attending and triple check your list of dietary needs.
  • Don't forget the 3pm Surprise Snack, get creative & it will ramp up energy for the last few hours.
  • Pay close attention to everyone's arrival and departure times. Crew, talent & client teams often have different schedules your planning should account for this.
  • Plan for more people than are scheduled to attend. It is always better to have more than not enough.

If you’ve organized or experienced some brilliant things on-set I'd love to hear about it. Let me know by sending me a note below.