I have a sincere question for you. If I, as an underpaid writer on-set, have an issue with craft services, who should I complain to? The studio head? The star? The city health department?
A substantial portion of our readership is asking, "Wow, you’re a writer, and you were allowed on the set?"
But seriously-and I guess your question is serious-the person to talk
with is the line producer or
unit production manager, who is ultimately responsible for hiring and
firing each of the different departments, such as craft service.
For those who have never been on a film or television set, there’s a
difference between catering and craft service. Catering handles the true
meals like lunch (which occurs six hours after the start of the day’s
filming, even if that means 2 a.m.) and second meal (which occurs six
hours later, if the crew hasn’t finished the day’s work). Catering is
a sit-down hot meal that lasts either 30 minutes or an hour, unless the
crew is working "French hours" (also called "Northwest
hours" in Seattle and Vancouver), in which case the meal is brought
to the set, and people eat whenever they get a chance.
Craft service is the food that is always available to the crew while
they’re working, and can range from a single table of cookies, candy,
cereal and coffee (on an low-budget indie feature), to an elaborate macrobiotic
spread with organic vegetables and sushi (on CHARLIE’S ANGELS).
Food is the source of half the complaints on any given production, so smart producers will often pay a little more to get top-notch caterers and craft service people. But within any price range, there are better and worse people for the job, so if one craft service guy isn’t cutting it, a different one should be hired.
(Originally posted in 2003.)