Feeding Your Crew

Posted on April 9, 2012


If you have to feed your crew, which you almost always do, and your budget is tight, which it almost always is, you’re going to be tempted to buy the cheapest shit you can get your hands on. That usually means bagels, chips, crackers and cookies. And it’s going to ruin your shoot.

All of those things are basically sugar. We know this about white bread now. It gives you a burst of energy, but it’s a fast burning fuel and you’re going to crash. This means that by the middle of the day, everyone will be grumpy, impatient and tired. This reduces the quality of their work and means that they aren’t having as much fun. You want them to have fun. Otherwise they won’t come back.

Here are some quick tips for feeding a crew that will reduce your chance of carb crash blues.

1. Hydrate the crap out of them.

I don’t know why this works, but it fucking does. You can get really run down if you don’t have sufficient fluids and you won’t always know why. Making sure they have constant access to easy, clean water will make everyone feel better when they leave.

2. No pure sugar on the table.

No cookies, basically. There’s a sweet episode of Radiolab about decision making and they talk about a study that showed that people trying to hold other, complicated thoughts in their minds make way less healthy choices about their food. This has larger implications in the episode, but for our purposes, we’re going to take it really literally. If you set cookies out when people are focused on your shoot, which they should be, they’re going to eat them. They’re going to eat them even if they wouldn’t normally! Their basest, most reptilian brains are going to choose what goes in their body. Just don’t make it an option. Fruit seems healthier on the face of it, and it is, long term, but it’s still going to give people a carb hit with a crash on the other end.

3. Get some good proteins out there.

Fish is expensive, but turkey is almost as good. If you’ve got some whole wheat crackers out there, cheese is a pretty decent protein/fat hit, which will keep folks going. Mixing rasins and peanuts gives people the sweet hit that will tell their brain nourishment is en route and the protein chaser that will keep them going. Looks for foods with tyrosine, like spirulina, eggs, the aforementioned turkey, soy products, mustard greens and cottage cheese.

4. Make it available all day.

Everyone will do better if they can keep snacking. Give them lots of little breaks to grab a bite, rather than a breakfast and a lunch. I mean, give them that, too, but the last hour before lunch is going to be a lot more productive if people aren’t so desperate to get to that moment.

And, of course, when in doubt, get some traveller coffee boxes and just put them out. That always works. Here’s how our food budget for shooting days broke down:

Don’t forget to add 20% for contingency on every budget you make. Ever.

Posted in: on the set