Digging Into Craft Services & Catering For Video Production Sets

Ever wonder how you feed people on set with a myriad of different preferences, dietary restrictions, or snack preferences? Anchor Line can tell you all about it, as we take snacking very seriously. We even have it as part of a pre-production checklist! To give further insight on catering and craft services (AKA “crafty”), Anchor Line Producer Rob Vater weighs in to ensure everyone on set is kept happy and well fed!

Video Producer Rob Vater on set on a cranberry farm
Me, on set, wading in a cranberry bog

What do “craft services” refer to in the world of production?

Craft services for video production is essentially an a-la-carte grouping of drinks and snacks to keep crews hydrated and energized on set, where, unlike in a standard workplace, they cannot simply go for a coffee run or peruse the break room cabinets.

 What is the difference between catering and craft services on a film set?

Craft services are always available, from set up to break down on set. Drinks, like coffee and water, as well as various snacks, are always on hand for our crews.

As for catering for video production, we have scheduled meal breaks and we either have a caterer come to set and hand-serve these meals or have a delivery service bring the food.

The main difference between catering and craft services is that catering is a sit-down for a typically “hot” meal, whereas craft service is the on-set essentials for those quick breathers during setups.

What are your biggest crafty must-haves?

Seltzer, no question. I am often seen on set with multiple empty seltzer cans at whatever makeshift desk I’ve created that day. 

Additional must-haves are:

  • Gum/mints
  • Fruit (bananas/apples/oranges)
  • Coffee (for sure)
  • Breakfast/granola bars (great crowd pleaser)

How do you determine how best to feed and refresh a production crew of any size?

On bigger sets, I usually have one of my trusty craft service freelancers on the job, and I defer heavily to their knowledge on what crews have been enjoying and what to buy for the various crew sizes.

If I’m running craft service on a smaller shoot, the big things to consider are: 

  • How many people? 
  • What’s the weather like?
  • If it’s the middle of winter, we need hot coffee, and a way to get more; it goes fast. 
  • Filming in a parking lot in the summer? Let’s avoid chocolate and foods that will melt, grab extra fruits, and double up on flats of water.
  • And of course, check in with your client and crew on any dietary restrictions or allergies. I try to make sure we always have some dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian options available, just in case.

What are your favorite catering options?

I’m a sucker for pasta of any sort. I will often try and sneak a pasta option in on a shoot, plus it travels well and feeds a whole lot. It’s both budget friendly and delicious. BBQ is another great choice, for all the same reasons, and it works for summer or winter. Just feels right on a hot day, the smell of grilled food, and in the winter, it warms you right up. You can hear the audible sense of happiness from a crew after a BBQ lunch on set. And cookies! Always include dessert options in catering; it’s the most important part.

At what stage in the video pre-production process do you think about craft services?

Right after I know our location and crew size, craft service is next on my list, but to be honest, crafty is considered even before this. I make sure when building out any budget to include a line for craft service. You just simply can’t have a fun set without it. Crafty is the “water cooler” of the film world, it’s where you get to chat with the Gaffer and Director about their recent trips, last night’s game, or debate whether Welch’s Fruit Snacks are more important to have at crafty than pretzel rods. (They are.)

How are craft services managed while cast, crew, and client are busy on set?

On bigger sets, we have a full-service craft service person who buys the food, provides the coolers, tables, and coffee makers. These people are true on-set heroes. They arrive first thing with production and leave after all the crews have packed up their gear and headed home.

On smaller sets, it’s a joint effort. Oftentimes myself and the PAs (Production Assistants) will buy and set up the table, and then on the day, a key PA will make sure to freshen up the table, grab extra ice for the coolers, and make sure we freshen up the coffee a few times throughout the day.

A variety of seltzer flavors are key on a video production set
A variety of seltzer flavors are paramount.

How do you manage craft services when your shoot moves between a lot of locations?

Tote bags and rolling coolers. Anchor Line has a collection of tote bags and a handful of coolers, all with wheels, for this very scenario. Oftentimes a shoot will require you to move between locations, sometimes climbing up a mountain to get the next shot, so mobility is always factored in.

I usually discuss with whoever is running craft service this portion ahead of time. The prep that goes into what to buy, and how to move it around is very important and is always considered before the shoot day. Many of my craft service people have heard me say, “There’s a lot of moving on this one!” And they know that means fewer tables, more tote bags.

Why are craft services important and why is it a carefully thought-out portion of Anchor Line’s video production services?

Craft service is important because we have hard-working crews, clients, and talent on these sets. Though we try to make sets as smooth and fun as possible, this is still hard work, and the days can be long. Knowing there is a place to catch your breath, take a moment, and feel refreshed is ideal to any workplace, and therefore important for film sets.

At Anchor Line the atmosphere of our sets is of the utmost importance. We want everyone to leave a shoot not only feeling like we got the shots that we needed, but that the day was fun. The first way to ensure that is to make sure they are comfortable, and you do that with craft service. 

Interested in Our Video Production Services? We’ll Take Your Order.

Anchor Line is here to not only provide high-quality video production services, but also provide the proper snacks, refreshments, and catering while keeping everyone’s needs in mind. We believe it’s part of supporting a high-functioning crew as well as creating a positive and memorable set culture. We hope this answered all your crafty questions!

Now, sit back, relax, and have a cookie and seltzer with us—let’s chat about your next project!