Getting Started In Craft Services Pt. 2: Qualifications

craft services

If you want to be an executive chef at a fine dining restaurant or the director of food services at an institution, you’ll probably need a college degree. However, if you want to work in the food industry without a degree then craft services is the way to go.

 All you need besides an interest in food service, entertainment, and the information found on this blog is: Stamina, Patience, and Flexibility!

Stamina

Working in film, television, and video production requires the ability to work long, arduous workdays. By long I’m talking about 12 – 16 hours daily up to six days a week. Whew! You’ll need to be mentally and physically fit to handle that kind of workload.

For example, as a craft service provider you will need to be able to lift cases of water, soda, and other beverages up flights of stairs and sometimes up hills. You’ll also need to be able to roll or carry coolers filled with ice and beverages around the set and to where background actors are being held which can be several blocks away. In addition, you need to be able to carry a pop up tent and resin folding tables.

You’ll also need the toughness to be able to work in adverse weather conditions. Productions rarely stop work for the unkind acts of Mother Nature. In other words, be prepared to work in snow, rain, wind, cold, and the scorching heat of summer.

Below is a photo I shot while working on a film in Upstate New York. Brrrr!

Snow storm

When considering a career in craft services think carefully. Don’t overestimate your stamina level because you don’t want to land a craft service job only to discover after a few hours that you aren’t physically or mentally prepared to work a full day.

you may also enjoy “getting started in craft service pt.1: overview”

Patience

If you know you’re short on people patience, I’ll tell you right now that craft services may not be the career choice for you. You’ll have to be able to get along with hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds with idiosyncrasies that make your eccentric Aunt Betsy and Uncle Sam seem as normal as a ray of sunshine.

Patience is a must-have virtue for craft service providers. I’m not saying that people won’t push you to lose your cool from time to time but those occasions must be the exceptions, not the rule. 

You’ll find that the longer the shoot, the more requests and complaints you’ll have to deal with. You must have the ability to calmly deal with each issue as it arises. And believe me, there will be issues! You can’t fly off the handle for every little thing or you’ll quickly find yourself on a producer’s do not call list.

In addition to servicing the principal cast and crew, there will be days where you have to provide craft service snacks and coffee for additional cast. These additional cast members are referred to in the industry as “background.” On “background” days, you may find yourself servicing up to an additional 100 – 200 people who have demands and expectations of their own.

On these days, your patience will be tried. My best advice here is to do whatever it takes to remain calm… deep breath, meditation, or a short walk away from the set.

Flexibility

The ability to be flexible goes hand-in-hand with having great patience. Unfortunately, situations on a production set don’t always go as smoothly as you would like so you have to be able to roll with the punches.

For example, there have been many occasions where I’ve spent the greater part of an hour setting up the craft service area. I positioned the tables, laid out the snacks, set up the coffee and tea station, and erected the pop up tent only to be told I have to move because the director wants to shoot the next scene where I’ve setup. This happens despite the fact I was told I could safely setup in that spot.

When this happens you have no choice but to move your setup no matter how inconvenient it may be to you.

You’ll also have to have flexibility as to where you get to set up craft services in the first place. Ideally, you’d like to be in a space large enough to accommodate 2-3 tables but this is not always possible.

Sometimes you’re in a location so cramped you can’t set up a folding table at all. When this situation arises, you have to adapt on the fly because you rarely know a location’s limitations ahead of time.

In the photo below, we were shooting in an apartment so small, I had to use the kitchen counter and a coffee table for craft services.

Craft service setup

Summary

To enjoy a successful career in craft services you need three key personality traits. Stamina for those long, physical workdays, patience for working closely with a multitude of personalities for days, weeks, or months on end, and flexibility to adapt quickly to changing on-set situations.

If you feel you possess these distinguishing characteristics, then pursuing a career in craft services may be the perfect choice.

What’s next?

In part 3 of the Getting Started In Craft Services series, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of being a craft services specialist or generalist.

See you next week.

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