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Feeding Your Crew On A Budget

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Etta DevineAnyone who has worked in production knows there is a wide variety of food types on a film set. Everyone has horror stories of the dreaded mayo drenched “sandwich platter” and on the other end the delicious surprise omelet truck.

When you are trapped for 14+ hours doing heavy labor or anxiously waiting for your crying scene all day sometimes food is your only comfort. When I’m on someone else’s set I always bring my own snacks just in case. I was once on a movie where I literally ate macaroni and cheese out of a tortilla with a bunch of children in the desert. I don’t want that to happen when I’m in charge and neither do you. Feed your cast and crew well. It’s totally possible on a small budget. I’m looking at you $1.99 huge delicious burritos in Apple Valley.

If you have time to prepare stuff beforehand and you are shooting somewhere with a kitchen then you are set. If your shoot days are back to back then the $7 per person ordering out day can be balanced with the $2.50 per person home cooked meal day. Costco and Smart and Final are your friend.

A giant $5 pie and coffee whipped out at 4’o clock can make everyone move faster. What’s left can be breakfast the next day.

If you are also doing rolls and salad too then go ahead and get the frozen lasagna.

Everyone likes hot cookies. Make and freeze the dough in long tube shapes in advance and just cut and bake.

If you have a small crew then salads from Trader Joe’s might be your best bet. Let everyone pick their own and add some hummus and chips and you’ve got a great meal.

Here are some general rules:

1. You have to serve food 6 hours after you start so make sure someone is on top of it.

2. Have stuff in craft services that can serve as a meal if someone hates lunch. I don’t eat meat but if they order chicken and I can go have hummus and carrots and a hard-boiled egg from crafty then I’m fine.

3. Include some vegetables. You can get vegetables very cheap from Asian markets or Jon’s. A tray of steamed broccoli or just a couple heads of lettuce with some carrots and tomato on top will be greatly appreciated. Fruit too.

4. It’s better to have too much than too little. Someone will eat it later. Maybe it will be you straight out of the tray with your hands when you wrap because even ordering dinner after a shoot is often way too much to ask of yourself.

5. Don’t serve the exact same thing every day. If the vegetable soup and grilled cheese went over well then by all means repeat that meal. Just not for every meal. You don’t want to be the shoot that served burgers three meals a day for a week.

Here is a great option for feeding a bunch of people on a budget. Cauliflower enchiladas. I’ve made them twice for shoots recently and they went over great. You can alter the recipe drastically and they’re still good. I forgot the soyriso once and they were still great. You can add other vegetables, strips of kale are good or different beans.

I served them with a big salad, hot sauce, salsa and avocado and Lundberg’s Southwestern Rice. I’ve been eating their rice and rice cakes since I was a kid and they were nice enough to provide some products for the shoot. Yum!

Here is the recipe for one tray. Serves 8-10. You can easily double or quintuple this depending on the size of your crew.

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil
  • Soyriso
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • 1 large can of enchilada sauce
  • Cheese

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces. No need to remove the leaves.

Sauté the onion in olive oil till browned and add soyriso then cauliflower to brown.

Add tomato.

Cover till cauliflower is soft and has cooked down a bit.

Add beans.

Fill tortillas and lay them in the pan. Put them in the oven for a minute so they’re soft and won’t break in two. You can also just lay them flat in more of a lasagna noodle treatment. Up to you! Don’t worry about it being orderly, everything will moosh together when it cooks.

Pour enchilada sauce over the whole thing and cover with cheese

Put in the oven at 400 covered in foil for 30 minutes then uncover and cook until the cheese is browned.

Freezes beautifully.

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Etta Devine

About Etta Devine

Etta Devine is an actor, filmmaker, and writer with a script on the 2017 Blacklist and one of 2017's Movie Maker Magazine's 25 Screenwriters to watch. With partner Gabriel Diani she directed, wrote, produced and starred in the feature film “Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse” which premiered at the 2016 Austin film festival and won awards from the Mill Valley Film Festival, Spokane International Film Festival, Omaha Film Festival, San Luis Obispo Film Festival, and many others. She co-produced and starred in the horror comedy “The Selling,” ruined classic literature by creating “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Robotic Edition” and is a member of the Antaeus Classical Theatre Company in Los Angeles and the Film Fatales. She recently recorded voices for the popular Frederator cartoon “Bee and Puppycat“ and wrote multiple episodes of its upcoming second season.