So, how did we save money? Probably the most entertaining way we saved money was on craft services or, for you non-entertainment industry people, the food. SAG-AFTRA guidelines require a union production to feed the actors per certain timeframes worked and anyone who has ever been on a movie set knows that you won’t have a film crew very long if you don’t feed them, too. The longer the shoot days and the more shoot days you have, the more expensive feeding everyone becomes, especially when you have a large cast and a fairly decent sized crew.
As an actor, one thing that can frustrate me on a set is craft services full of junk food that you eat tons of during your downtime and bitterly regret eating later. I thought, what if we save money by ME doing craft services instead of hiring a caterer and I get all healthy foods and make healthy snacks like fresh fruit platters (I figured I would just buy the fruit from a street vendor and wash and cut it myself), avocado sprout sandwiches and tossed salads, cheese pressed Paninis? It sounded like the perfect plan…until I learned that caterers charge a lot of money for a lot of good reasons.
First, buying the amount of groceries it takes to feed ten crew members and up to fifteen cast members on any given day takes some serious muscles. The first day trudging to set bearing gigantic grocery bags filled with apples, bananas, oranges, bread, avocados, hummus, etc., was fine. I was elated to be starting filming and feeling energetic. By the 3rd day, I couldn’t understand why oranges were SO #$%^&*( heavy and my arms wanted to fall off. Deciding to get fresh fruit every night for the next day’s shoot was also not as great in practice since we had very late days and the last thing I wanted to do when we wrapped was go find a grocery store and lug home pounds of foodstuffs…again.
Second, preparing and cooking food takes time. A lot of time. I also acted in a small role in the film and had multiple producer duties. I naively thought I could “just throw meals together quickly” and then take care of everything else. Uhhh…no. So, by the time you’re done preparing breakfast, the plates are coming back and need to be washed. By the time you’re done washing the dishes, lunch needs to be started (not to mention snacks for in between meals), and the whole cycle starts anew.
Third, when you’re off-site, you have to be creative and, by the 3rd off-site day, I was no longer feeling creative and I hated the sight of all the food. On that day, we were shooting in a fancy schmancy luxury office building in Manhattan. I had brought bread, cheese, protein, condiments, rice chips, and various drinks. I was putting together the first sandwich when an actor looked over and said, “Oh no! I hate it when you put the condiments on the sandwiches. Don’t do that! Just let us do it if we want to.” First, I thought, “Hmm, Maybe I will fire you.” But sanity prevailed and I smiled and said, “Sure,” and slapped a slice of cheese and a slice of protein between two pieces of bread. “No cheese either!” the actor cried. “Let us decide if we want that.” So, I removed the cheese and just put a slice of protein between two slices of bread and threw them on plates with the chips and set them out. In no time, one of the crew people was munching. He stopped with a weird look on his face, opened the sandwich and looked at its paltry contents and then looked at me and said, “What are these?! Prison sandwiches?”
I sent him off to get condiments and cheese. He returned with a huge smile carrying a container of what looked like sliced up cheese. He filled his sandwich, noting how much he loves cheese, took a huge bite, and nearly wretched. Turns out he had taken out a box of pats of butter instead of the box of cheese slices. That was a tough day. But very funny.
Lesson learned. I will never, never again take on craft services for a production. I will never, ever serve prison sandwiches to anyone and, when storing pats of butter that could possibly be mistaken for cubes of white cheddar cheese, will note to label the container.
**Please note the photo above is of a marvelous actor named Mariana Cardenas at the craft services table and she never complained about anything ever. :) You can read her bio and all the cast and crew bios on our website at www.TheOppositeOfAFairyTale.com**