CRAFT SERVICES 101
CRAFT SERVICES 101
Imagine this scene with us:
You walk into your workplace first thing in the morning. In the breakroom, you see a 6’ folding table dressed in black linen. It is filled with goodies, hot coffee, and yummy-looking food. An attendant smiles at you from behind the table and invites you to take anything you want before asking, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” She begins to tell you that she’ll be there all day and that you should “come back to the table as many times as you want throughout the entire day!”
Really? The entire day?
Dang, that’s cool! You shrug with delight thinking your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack time just got a whole lot tastier. As you go to grab a mouth-watering apple fritter, a thought crosses your mind - Wait. Is this free? What is all of this for? Did I forget someone’s birthday? What are we celebrating here? The attendant instinctively knows that look - she saw it on a few other coworkers of yours earlier. She speaks up and breaks your train of thought, “Everything on the table is complimentary, courtesy of your employer.”
Wow … you think, what a treat! I’m not sure what we did to deserve thi—- the attendant chimes in again to say that she is there to keep you at your best all day. She wants to care and serve you while you do your job. You think: Huh, someone supporting me throughout my workday to make sure I have all that I need to perform at my best?! That’s the greatest news ever! You grab that apple fritter, some fresh fruit, and a bottled OJ. You look at the snack table, and with your best Terminator voice you say, “I’ll be back.”
This scene, although fiction for almost all workplaces, is a REAL thing in the film industry! Seriously. It’s called craft services. Ever heard of it!? Unless you know someone in the film industry, this concept is probably completely foreign to you. But the craft services industry provides employment opportunities for thousands of film workers throughout the country, and I just happen to be one of them!
I remember my first day ever onset of that FingerHut commercial back in 2012. I brought my own lunch in a pail (rookie mistake… haha!) and I was shocked to find out that all my packing was totally unnecessary! There was a SPREAD of snacks, food, and beverages just waiting for me. I didn’t know! But it was the best. What a perk! Throughout the years of working in film, I have loved the thought behind craft services. It’s a supportive role to keep the cast and crew at their very best throughout the day.
It reminds me of Romans 12:10 - “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Or 1 Peter 5:2 - “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.”
I love that about craft services - you don’t have to serve crews, you get to! It’s an opportunity in my schedule to put others before myself and to care for their needs.
. . .
So where did this all start? From what I have read, it started in the ’60s in Hollywood. They found that caring for people’s needs while working kept the crew healthy, happy, and engaged throughout the 10-12 hour shoot day. I’ve seen it first-hand. A craft services table can change the camaraderie and morale of an entire film set. It’s the watering hole - the place where people gather to chat, tell jokes, share stories, and graze on a few snacks. It’s such a simple concept, yet has a deep return on its investment. One that I’ve seen pay off time and time again.
So what goes into a craft services job!? I’ve laid out the 10 steps I take to complete a job and serve those on set:
I get a call, text, or email from a producer, reaching out to ask for my availability.
Once I’m on board, we have a phone conversation about the job. We talk prep days, shoot days, day rate, kit rental fees, budget, dietary needs, special requests, power, water source, hot breakfast idea, lunch requests, kids on set, Covid protocols, & more. I take notes and begin formulating a plan. If the producer has asked me to help with ordering hot breakfast or lunch, I do that research and order before anything else. Those things are time-sensitive and need my utmost attention right away.
Next, I sit down and create grocery lists. Each job is similar in nature, but each is still unique in its own way. I split my list into “Order Online/Curbside Pick Up” and “Shop In-Store”. I place the online order early and then go to get other prep done while it is being picked.
Shopping in stores is my absolute favorite! I always thought I would be a great contestant for SuperMarket Sweep … Anyone remember that show? :) I separate my items based on whether or not they need further prep. If they are individually packaged items, they go right into my tubs. If the food needs to be cut, split, divided, or assembled, I bring them into my kitchen for more prep.
In the kitchen, I have several options for containers for food. Now is my time to crank the country tunes and prep food! I love this part - it’s like prepping for a party you are going to host!
Now that the food prep is done, I move on to packing my truck. It’s like a tetris game! Each item fits perfectly in one spot.
Once the truck is packed, I create paperwork and signage. I check on our catering orders, and I create signage for easy grab & go directions.
The day of the production arrives, and it’s game time! I pack my food cooler in the morning, and I always grab ice on the way to fill the ice cooler and to top off the beverage cooler. Once I get to set, I set up my craft table, and get the coffee rolling ASAP. I have a crew coming in that will be ready for a hot cup of coffee shortly.
After everything is set up, I set out the hot breakfast and begin serving beverages and food to the crew that comes to say “Hi!” Then, I am “all hands on deck” the rest of the day for whatever the cast & crew might need. I rotate snacks & food throughout the day by adding new items as things are eaten down. I help set up tables & chairs for lunch, and I coordinate with caterers to serve our lunches. If my craft services table is separated from the set in some way, I’ll pack up a snack tray and beverage container to bring around.
As the day winds down, I begin to break down the table, dump the ice out of containers, and dry things off. I pack my totes and prepare for the load out. If I haven’t done it already, I will finalize my paperwork & petty cash for the producer. Once that is turned in and completed, I can go.
Another crew fed & cared for. Another job in the books!
I hope you learned a thing or two about the film industry as we pulled back the curtain and shared some behind-the-scenes tidbits.
Katie + The Uncommon Team