Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Don’t all Companies Have Craft Services?

post by Trai Cartwright

There’s a nifty table that exists on every set – every commercial, music video, film, tv show, or infomercial, they’ve all got this table. This table is the entertainment industry’s equivalent of a watering hole. You know, the place where the whole community comes for refreshment and in doing so, runs into everyone else they know. Then, inevitably, they start to trade town news, maybe overhear a little gossip, plan a bit of match-making or grieve some loss. It’s the place they commune.

On a set, this place is called Craft Services. It’s run by staff referred to as Craft Services. They don’t have names; they are not people. They are providers. Their table, stationed at the back of the hubbub, out of the way of gaffers and 2K lights and dolly tracks, out of range of the sound engineer’s microphones, is an oasis. It’s where the crew – everyone from the grunts (PA’s) to the above-the-line staff (the movie stars) all congregate when they are bored, when they are feeling social, when they want the inside scoop, and yes, sometimes when they are hungry.

Every Craft Service table tends to stock the same stuff, with new “menus” four times a day: in the morning, it’s danishes, doughnuts and yogurts and licorice; in the afternoon and evening, it’s twenty kinds of candy (including licorice –always, always licorice) plus energy bars and drinks, granola and other hand-held carbs (think cookies, bagels, and brownies). Late at night (as most sets run for 14 hours), it’s taken over Willy Wonka, providing sugar in every form known to man.

Coffee is always freshly brewed and ready, or, on the big-budgeted films, barristas are on hand to make made-to-order caffeinated drinks. There’s tea, but no one drinks it except the actress with a cold, trying to keep her voice from going out. There’s also cold remedies and pain relievers, which is a life-saver because everyone gets each others’ colds, and sometimes each other’s hangovers.

It’s hard to underestimate the power of a great craft services table. A new kind of pastry will be talked about for hours, brightening everyone’s day. Instant and constant caffeine makes those 14-hour schedules possible to manage. It’s the actresses’ lament, as they struggle to stay away from the free calories, complain bitterly at the unfairness of it all as they suck their licorice whips, and then finally give in to the temptation of an onion bagel, but only because it was flown in from New York.

Craft Services is the great equalizer on set; everyone needs it, everyone wants it, and it’s the only place to get that sugary nourishment and community vibe. It provides a place to hover, and thus to belong. It’s the grandmother’s kitchen where we all gathered to play games, make cookies, watch the grown-ups do their grown-up business, and take a rest from our busy, busy lives. I think every company on the planet should take a page from the Hollywood handbook and provide Craft Services. Ten bucks says productivity and morale would go sky high – until, of course, you run out of licorice.

What food item would you want for your craft service table?


Jenny said...

Oooh...chocolate-covered nuts. Chocolate-covered fruit. Chocolate-covered chocolate. You get the idea.

I think there should be a craft service table anywhere we have to wait for more than five minutes...the doctor's office, the DMV, etc. We would all be so much happier.

Name: Luana Krause said...

Home-made cookies and cupcakes. Also assorted chocolates (the good stuff). Flip side: apple slices, baby carrots, cucumbers and melon.

Patricia Stoltey said...

In one of the companies I worked for in Florida, in the huge accounts payable department, one of the managers stopped every Friday morning and brought in big bags of fresh warm bagels and a huge block of good full-calorie cream cheese. I still think of that as the best part of working in the real world (as opposed to the writing world).

But then, I'm even thrilled when I find mini-Tootsie Rolls in the candy bowl at the bank.


Trai said...

Chocolate and fresh bagels for everyone!!!

woodswoman d'italia said...

Ah, mini-Tootsie Rolls! Yes, Pat, that's almost the only candy-sugar-high thing I go after. I'm more the salt and dried fruit kind of person.

My Craft Services table would have RAISINS, and heavily salted pretzels, pistachio nuts, homemade Chex mix, perhaps some of those red licorice Swedish Fish, dried apricots and dried peaches. Macadamia nuts. A bit of baklava. Crackers and spinach dip. Brie and "Everything Flatbread". Mousse Truffe Pate and baguette slices.

Now I'm really hungry . . .

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