What is craft services you may ask? Why, let me tell you!
Craft services (or "crafty") is all of that awesome food you eat on the set of a movie. Usually it sits at a table away from set or in the "green room," so cast and crew don't disrupt work on set while they eat. It's also a really nice environment to take a break and chat with your fellow filmmakers.
I am a strong believer that a crew with happy tummies is a hard working crew. After working as a volunteer on many USC sets, I know I work the hardest when the food is aplenty. I feel respected by the producing staff if they have good food, both healthy and sweet. I talk about volunteering on film projects, specifically USC, here.
The level of craft services of course depends on your budget. When I was on the set of Larry Crowne, they had an amazing line up of every snack possible and people making lunch for cast & crew. My guidelines, on the other hand, are from the low-budget, film-student perspective.
When providing crafty on set, here are my personal guidelines:
Bagels w/cream cheese
coffee (coffee maker), cream & sugar (try Costco vanilla creamer packets)
Bananas, apples (any fruit)
(some sets had someone making pancakes, that was fun!)
Meat option (try chicken or beef)
Vegetable option (try steamed veggies, pasta salad, potato salad)
Veggie/Vegan option (if necessary)
Bread option (try rolls, pita bread & hummus)
And/Or Sub sandwiches
**I personally require NO onions, peppers or garlic...you're going to have to smell these people for 6 more hours
(a hot meal is preferred so prior arrangements must be made to make this happen)
Snacks Throughout Day:
Soda: Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke (cans or liter bottles)
Bottled water (make sure to have enough for each crew member to have at least 3, unless you're outside, then buy a lot more and prepare to buy more throughout the day)
Little chocolates (mixed bag)
String cheese pack (this is my guilty pleasure on set)
Supplies for Craft Services:
Table to put food on
Coffee maker - with filters & coffee grinds
Cups (Styrofoam for coffee & plastic for drinks)
Forks & Knives
Ice & cooler for drinks
--NEVER assume your location will have these at your disposal, ALWAYS come prepared!
**always ask your cast & crew their dietary needs just in case they are on very strict diets**
This all depends on your budget. This list is my ideal list, and I will cut corners as necessary. If you only have 50 bucks, try to get water, coffee and granola bars as snacks. Then provide sandwiches and salad for lunch.
NOTE: Pizza is NOT considered a meal by SAG rules (Screen Actor's Guild). I actually just found this out. Pizza is considered a "walking meal," meaning "if an actor can physically eat the food while walking around, it's not considered a lunch." The actor MUST eat sitting down and the food should reflect this. Pizza can be served for lunch if the work day is only 6 hours; but any more, then it must be a full lunch.
Now...I'm on set, and I have the food -- what do I do?
Keep at least one person at craft services to replenish the food and keep it neat. Whenever the crew takes a break, crafty will look like a tornado came through. One or two crew members will need to keep it clean and keep the bugs away. You're most likely shooting in a location that does not belong to you, so show your respect by keeping it clean.
Also by having one person in charge of the food, they will know when you need to run out and buy more ice or make more coffee. Maybe the crew really likes the dinosaur fruit snacks and they're gone by lunch. Your crafty person will see this and send a production assistant to go buy more. Again, a happy crew is a hard working crew. Never forget that!
Food and Actors
This can be tough if you don't have much experience with life on set. I know I'm still learning, but here are a few tips I have picked up.
- If the actor is in costume and wants a bottle of water, always wipe the bottle off and/or wrap the bottle in a paper towel. The condensation or water from the ice will drip on the actor leaving a spot that will only be removed with time or a blow dryer. If it drips on their shirt, it will look obvious on camera, so be careful!
- If you are shooting far from the craft services room, bring a few waters and snacks in a container into your shooting room or space. This means the actors won't have to walk all the way to craft services to get food. Not only will they stay in character this way, but you also won't lose the 4 minutes it takes them to walk to crafty and back. This goes for crew as well. They can be fixing a light instead of walking through the woods to get to the craft services table (I had to do this on a thesis project a few months ago...wore plenty of bug spray!).
- Be Quiet! You can NOT eat or drink during a take. The microphones will pick up any bag rustling, mouth crunching, or bottle top twisting. Be respectful. Get your sip of water and set down the bottle before you hear action...or, if you're consistently loud, you'll be asked to leave set and work on a task outside.
As a producer or assistant director, keep an eye on your cast and crew. Make time for them to run and grab a snack "pick-me-up." Make time for them to leave set, stretch and return with happy bellies. Again -- the best way to respect your crew!