Thursday, August 28, 2003

There is a fine comedy series in this.

If you read the credits of a movie, there are lots of job titles that are incomprehensible unless you have either worked on a movie set, or someone has explained them to you. (What is a "Grip". What is a "Best boy"? Even when they have been explained to you, the job titles seem to make little sense. (The Grip is the most senior electrician. The Best Boy is the number 2 electrician). One thing that you will see in movie credits is "Craft Service". Now what does this mean?

Craft Service is in fact the title given to those people who provide the crew with food and drink throughout the day. If a member of the crew wants a Coke, or a cup of coffee, or a donut, or a sandwich, or a candy bar, it is the job of Craft Service to give him what he wants, immediately. This is actually very important, because 18 hour filming days without breaks can be gruelling, particularly if they occur frequently as they do for American television programs trying to produce an episode a week for nine months. People find this kind of work much easier to do if they can always get a cup of coffee of a snack without any effort. There is apparently an art to providing good Craft Service, which is to provide people with what they want to eat and drink almost before they have realised it themselves, and if someone on the crew likes a particular sort of chocolate bar to make sure these are always available.

Two further points. Firstly, while Hollywood actresses starve themselves half to death, crew members are often a little on the pudgy side. Craft Service is one reason why. Secondly, I don't have the slightest fucking idea why it is called "Craft Service".

This all leads in to this hilarious piece on the Sofia sideshow blog about filming a movie in Bulgaria, where the Craft Service guy is an "old school Bulgarian" (ie he lived most of his life under communism) who refuses to show initiative of any kind, because under communism that was dangerous. Also, you must defer to authority. For instance

"Man, it's 40 degrees out here! And the crew says you aren't giving any ice."
"Do you have ice?"
"Why aren't you giving any to the crew?"
"Because I don't have enough."
"It's your job to have enough."
"Nobody told me to buy more, so I am giving it to you and John [Line Producer]."
"In front of the crew...oh $%#("
A shrug in response.
"Buy more!"
"If you say so."

The only thing I can decipher is that the safest route in the old days here was to do exactly as told, no matter what, and to never use creativity or initiative, nor to speak if there is a problem, but to wait until specifically asked if there is a problem with the specific task previously assigned.

That's right. Although his job is actually to keep the crew's morale up, he does such things as serve cold drinks to the boss, but warm ones to the rank and file. That's just fabulous. Read the whole thing. All together it is funnier than a little extract. And it demonstates just how pernicious communism was.

(Link via Natalie Solent).

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