Before we start, this blog is not to discuss whether you should feed your cast and crew or not. Personally, after not being fed on a couple of shoots I crewed, there is absolutely no way I don't provide food for our cast/crew!
Catering can be costly but you can bring the cost down with a little bit of hard work. For example:
- Have a very tight cast/crew on set. Remember another body on set is another person to feed.
- Prepare the food yourself (or ask a friend/family to kindly do it for you) rather than buying it.
- If possible (i.e. you have access to a kitchen/microwave), provide cooked food (such as stew) rather than sandwiches. Cooked food is more filling and works out cheaper if you organise your catering well enough. With Ambleton Delight we kept it to around 300 pounds for the entire film. Below is what we would have for a typical shoot.
- Plenty of water (a must!)
- Big bottles of Coca-cola (OK, it's a bit naughty but keeps you going)
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
- Fruit, mainly bananas and apples
- A big tin of chocolate (for a quick energy boost)
- A large cake (like fruits cake, chocolate cake, banana cake), cut into small pieces
- A big pot of stew or curry (I would cook it several hours before the shoot then brought the whole pot to the location)
- Rice or bread rolls
- Disposable dinnerware
It's important to remember that you are not placing a dinner party for guests, but you are providing fuel for your staff. It's also nice to ask cast/crew members if they have any food allergies and take that into consideration as much as possible.
Finally, a little cooking tip for preparing both meat and veggie stew: I would cook a whole lot of veggie stew first then take a portion aside for veggies, then add separately cooked meat to the meat pot. No hassle in catering for vegetarians.
It's always nice to eat together as a team as well. And trust me, after a decent meal, people are happy and work better!