If you are someone who is interested in working in the film industry, you are probably aware of the long hours and work that are put into the production. If you’re like me and the first thing that comes to mind before going anywhere is food, you’ll be happy to know that one bonus is the unlimited free food available on set, a gift known as craft services.
The film industry is infamous for its lengthy filming times and sometimes six day work weeks and going out for a snack break is not an option, especially in an obscure set location.
After seeing a movie’s credit list, you can probably only imagine the amount of people who are on set all day—from big name actors, to the directors, and not to mention the sometimes hundreds of extras wandering around. The job of keeping all these people fueled up, happy, and full is not an easy one.
Hot, sit-down meals provided by a catering service are given every six hours on set. In every time besides that, food is always available by the craft service department.
The history of craft service explains its interesting name. As technology advanced and jobs became more specialized, craft workers (people in certain departments) could no longer cross over between departments. People needed to be hired specifically to do the small, extra, but necessary tasks.
In the mid-1960s, craft workers were hired essentially as stage hands to do things, like answer the phone, clean up a set animal’s waste, and even pass around coffee and donuts. Eventually, sets became so large and complex, workers were hired just to handle the all day free food table.
Typically, people on set, especially the less busy, will pass by the table to graze in their free time or between takes. The table might be swarmed with hungry people needing a muffin break.
There is no set standard for what is included in craft service. Some craft service workers will try and keep their tables healthy, including organic fruits and veggies and sustaining snacks. But no table would be complete without the usual chips, chocolate and candies.Depending on the film’s budget, the craft table can vary between a giant lavish buffet to a much cheaper big plate of cookies. Common craft service items include, bagels, juice, yogurt, cheese and crackers and packaged foods galore.
The craft workers, do much more than just put up food displays. They are generally the first ones on set, ensuring coffee is hot and ready before the crew arrives. They can be seen rushing back from the grocery store with hundreds of dollars’ worth of treats and quickly cutting and arranging fruits and vegetables.
If someone on the set is not feeling well, the craft worker might whip up a healthy smoothie or offer some Aspirin they have on hand. If the set is in a public location, the craft workers have the job of guarding the food from rude passers-by looking for a free snack.
If you ever find yourself on a set, be sure to hit the craft table before the grips get there or there might not be much good food left (and stock up on desserts, since I hear they’re the first to go). And remember, it never hurts to befriend the crafty, you might score a first preference on the food.