Getting Started In Craft Services Pt. 1: Overview
Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them craft services. My response inevitably leads them to ask, “What’s craft services?” Or, “How did you start your craft services career?”
And so, in this first lesson of my weekly series on how to get started in craft services, I’ll cover what craft services is, its history, and what it takes to have a successful craft services career.
I’ve created this series for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit who wants to combine their love of food with their love of entertainment into an exciting craft services career. So whether you’re a culinary arts graduate is search of your first job, a food truck owner who wants to expand business, or a home cook with a flair for the dramatic, this series is for you.
Here’s what you’ll get
Each week I’ll focus on an aspect of craft services that will help start your craft services career. I’ll give you insider advice on the who, what, where, why, and how craft services as a career choice fits into grand scheme of film, television, and video production.
Let’s get started!
What the heck is craft services career anyway?
Craft services is the person on a movie, television, or video production that provides the cast and crew with food and beverages from the start of the workday (call time) until the end of the workday (wrap). That generally about 12 hours.
On a small or low-budget productions the entire department may consist of only one person. On larger productions there may be up to three or four persons.
In addition to providing food and beverages, the craft services department may also provide thrash bags, paper towels, and a first aid kit for small emergencies.
Craft services history
From the 1920s to the 1940s the craft services department wasn’t associated with food at all. During that period, positions in craft services were labor positions created to assist the “crafts” i.e. the people working as grips, electricians, set decorators, camera operators, sound technicians, etc.
The craft services person(s) would be asked to hold cables, hang lights, dig ditches, lay dolly tracks and wrangle animals on set.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that craft services really started to become associated with food service. Legend has it that the food association started at Universal Studios in Hollywood when a craft services employee delivered coffee from a cart to the crafts.
Doughnuts were later added and over the years the position evolved into the food service position of today. People pursuing a craft services career no longer have to perform the physical labor tasks of the past.
you may also be interested in “getting into craft services pt. 2: qualifications”
Craft services is not catering
On any given production, the role and responsibility of craft services and catering are not the same. However, both services can be carried out by the same person(s) or company.
As I mentioned earlier, craft services provides food and beverages to the cast and crew throughout the entire workday. On the other hand, the catering department prepares and serves breakfast and lunch then is wrapped for the day.
The reason one department stays and the other leaves is because craft services is considered a crew position and catering is considered a vendor of the production.
Catering arrives on set ahead of the cast and crew to prepare a typical breakfast spread of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, potatoes, etc. Some caterers will also prepare special orders from the cast and crew when they arrive on set.
Six hours after breakfast, catering serves a sit-down lunch for the cast and crew that generally consists of a choice of salads, bread, beef, poultry, seafood, pasta, rice, vegetables, and dessert.
Craft services generally arrives to set at the same time as the rest of the crew. Once the crew is summoned to begin work, the craft services person sets up the craft service table(s).
The craft service spread can be one to three tables filled with all sorts of goodies!
Additional craft services responsibilities
Sometimes productions shoot later than scheduled. When this happens Union crew are entitled to another meal. This is referred to as “second meal” and is often provided by a nearby brick and mortar establishment.
The ordering of this meal is generally handled by the production coordinator or manager and is picked up by the locations department. However, this is not always the case. While some productions will do the ordering, they may request craft services to pick up the order and set it up for the cast and crew.
Also, some productions have trailers for the “talent” and will ask craft services to place a small snack setup in each trailer and monitor it.
Unlike the catering department which provides two full meals per day, the primary responsibility of the craft services department is to provide small bites of food and beverages to cast and crew all day long.
In addition, the craft services department may be called up to perform additional duties like setting up second meal and stocking talent trailers.
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Want to know more about starting your craft services career? Here’s a sneak peak at what’s next in the series. Next week I’ll discuss the qualifications for becoming a craft service provider.
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