Monday, November 13, 2006

A very food-centric post today.

Yesterday afternoon as we were getting into work, there was a Red Hot Chili Peppers (honestly, I didn't think those guys were still around) video shooting on the lot - as soon as we found out, we all sauntered over to the set which was on the lot's New York Street.

Not so much to see the band (I can't speak for my co-workers, but I really don't care that much), but to see if there was anything good at the crafty table and to say "hi" if any of us knew any of the crew, since this job will be over in a couple of weeks and we're all on the make for future employment.

I'd not met the crew before, but they all seemed nice (even though they were having a typically long day), and the food was typical music video fare*.

Once we'd said our hellos, determined that nothing there was of much interest to any of us, and had gotten our crew set up in their respective work areas, our boss told us that there were two other parties on the lot last night.

One was a screening of a movie followed by a wine and cheese reception in the parking lot next to the water tank and the other was a dressy party and silent auction for some charity. The charity party let the lot workers pick over the buffet left-overs, and I was bad and overindulged on corned beef. I love corned beef, even if it is about 90% fat and really bad for me.

So, I'm off to the gym right now to try and work off the million calories of yummy I ate last night.

*Craft Service/Catering hiearchy is as follows:

Commercials: Expensive caterers, craft service people who shop at high-end markets and stock everything but the kitchen sink and will, if asked nicely, accommodate special requests (soymilk, sugar-free snacks, strange tropical fruits, etc..). Commercial craft service doesn't come cheap, but you get what you pay for, after all.

Large budget movies: Although the between-meals spread's not quite as elaborate as commercial fare (but still good) there's still a wide variety of stuff to eat (both healthy and not) and the catered food's worthy of an expensive restaurant.

TV shows: Hit or miss, depending on how much the producer's budgeted, but since TV shows shooting on studio lots don't have caterers (they can give the crew a half-hour lunch if food is provided or an hour-long "walkaway" if it's not. Why pay for a caterer if there's a commissary 200 yards away?) those shows tend to have better crafty, plus they'll have bread and cold cuts for sandwiches.

Music Videos: Normally stocked with the type of food that musicians and their hangers-on like to eat - junk food and lots of it, unless the artist is on a diet and then there will be a veggie platter with a tin of low fat ranch dressing.

Low budget movies: Cheap coffee (with powdered creamer which I hate) and a box of stale cookies, plus some of those sodium-laced ramen noodle packets if they were on sale at Costco. Hey, what would you put out if you had to feed 40 people on $100 per day?

Having said that, I've been on a couple of low budget movies that have had decent food. Once again, it depends on what the producer's willing and able to spend. Having one of the lead actors get sick from eating cheese that's been sitting at room temperature for six hours and then hysterically accuse the producer of trying to poison them will increase the food budget pretty quickly.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the really nice thing about stepping up in budget levels- liquid creamer.

Also- what is with the cheese platters left out until it starts sweating grease? You'd think they'd learn.

JCW said...

I remember doing a gig in Sausalito at a fancy hotel. It was an outdoor day shoot - a wedding reception - and after the food had been sitting out for about 6 hours in the sun, the extras were instructed to actually eat it for the cameras...It was a wedding reception scene and I was playing a waiter, so thankfully I didn't have to munch on any of it. It was a beautiful buffet when they set it out at 9:00am, not so pretty by 3:00pm!

Chuck-a-luck said...

Oh, it IS you.

Meg said...

There's a website devoted to Chacho, former craft service for the Star Trek franchise. "Alien" food sometimes made the table-that's the first place I ever saw starfruit.

JCW said...

Yep Chuckie, it's me. Nice to see YOU here.

Mark said...

Had an occasional gig (for a year or so in the late 80's) doing crafty as a fill-in for a friend whenever she had conflicting gigs. Usually commercial shoots for Mattel.

Only the best for them: hi-end gelsons and trader joe snacks, fresh cut fruits and veggies, and piping hot toaster oven treats. (Fresh cookies, taquitos, mini-quiches, eggrols, etc.) Fresh made salsa, guacamole, salads. Every bag of TJ's mixed nuts had to be mixed w/ a extra two bags of giant cashews. French roast fresh ground coffee plus four milk/soy creamer options on ice. All served on a cloth covered table, beautiful ceramic platters and bowls. You get the picture...

Producer would only eat same-day fresh bagels from Western Bagel in the Valley -- the WLA Western Bagel was verbotten as "just not quite as good" -- even though I lived in WLA and the shoots were in El Segundo.

Completely arrogant and incompetent assholes -- so the pay was great with astounding amounts of overtime. One-day shoots often ran 18, 20 and once 27 hours, so always doubletime on top of an already high rate. Of course the prep work started at 3:30 AM, so my real day was often 24 hours long or longer. I was a lot younger, but still needed days to recover fom each shoot -- and a week if it was a so-called two-day shoot. But a few days of this work could make my nut for the month.

Outraged and disgusted, the producer finally 86'ed me as a fill-in for my continuing neglect in not buying my own $650 cappuccino machine. He just couldn't understand why I -- as his loyal-but-very-occasional servant -- wouldn't also treasure the opportunity to be a sweating barrista serving up steaming custom drinks on demand, all while I prepped fresh food, iced drinks, cooked hot treats, cleaned up and keep the table looking beautiful without break all day long and late into the night.

Bad attitude on my part. So sorry.

Years later I got an inquiry from the state wage board as to my status as an "independent contractor" for these Mattel crew gigs. Mattel Corp always insisted crew be contracted, not hired as employees, even though they shot year round in their own in-house studio -- because the poor dears simply could not afford to pay the workers' payoll taxes, social security, unemployment taxes and workers comp insurance.

So craft service revenge was served sweet and cold --- spilling the beans in a government affidavit about how Barbie Inc. simply insisted on violating so many state wage laws.


Sal said...

So, what kind of junk food do the chili peppers like? I'm nosy!!

One of the benefits of making my short at a museum was that we had the museum cafe providing food, which meant tea, coffee etc on request, frshly cooked breakfasts on arrival, and a choice of lunches, all on site. I'm sure having those facilities contributed to crew and cast happiness.

Erin Taylor said...

There are two lesser known categories that you've left out of the crafty hierarchy. 1) Live event telecasts. Tend to fall under the same caliber as commercials. 2) Reality television shows. Tend to be a crap shoot. If they're a sucessful, established network reality show, then it's standard tv show fare. But more times than not they fall under the same quality as low budget movie if not worse and almost always tend to not feed you the second meal even though they go over on hours.