What Do the Hawai‘i Five-0 Stars and Other Film Crews Eat on Set?
Three local food businesses dish out the inside scoop on feeding hungry cast and crew members shooting in Hawai‘i. Learn some do’s and don’ts of film food etiquette.
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Crafty And Catering
Film caterers usually mix things up with different flavors and cuisines to keep the food fresh. Today, the cast and crew of Hawai‘i Five-O are treated to pasta carbonara, ratatouille on polenta and chicken alfredo.
Photos: Aaron Yoshino
During our down time, two crew members set up a munching area for us, with boxes of Chex mixes, arare, whole bananas, apples and dried fruits, and two large coffee dispensers, water, hot tea and fruit juice. At around noon, Spam musubi are passed around in trays between shots to tide people over until lunch.
These snacks are provided by craft services—called “crafty”—and are separate from catering. “It’s a completely different department,” says Connie Alicino, production manager. “For people who are part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) labor union, it’s required for these employees to have craft services.” She adds that it’s also required for the crew to be given vegetarian, fish and meat entrée options in their meals.
The role of craft services is to provide snacks and, if necessary, walk around the set passing out bottles of water and sandwiches or musubi to crew members who are too busy to get to the craft table. They also help catering sometimes: “Sometimes I forget to bring paper towels, and I gotta go ask crafty for them,” says Neza. “Although we’re separate departments, we’re able to help each other out.”
Behind the Scenes
As production manager, Alicino’s first responsibility is to the crew. “I need to know what the crew likes to eat. If a crew is coming from the Mainland, they may be more used to the L.A. style of vegetarian and vegan food. If most of the crew are local, a caterer from the Mainland might not know to make Spam and rice. My job is to try and make everybody as happy and as comfortable as possible, within limits.”
Alicino’s worked on Big Eyes, The Last Resort and Lost, and her job, besides hiring crew and vendors, is to make sure that everything is on time and within budget.
This means the catering company has to be well-versed in the film industry. “An ideal catering vendor can see ahead, monitoring our progress throughout the day and taking proactive steps to make sure everything is efficient for us,” says Alicino.
The hiring and planning process begins up to five months before shooting begins. Is the company bonded and insured? Can it serve the size of crew? Does it have a good report from other producers in the industry? Is it in full compliance with state and federal law? “The food industry in film is a serious matter, because it’s the tangible fuel that keeps our crew
nourished and happily moving along,” says Alicino.
Once the caterer signs the contract and the deal is struck, Alicino will coordinate with the assistant directors to make sure the caterers will be set up in the right place and at the right time. “There’s a communication channel between the assistant director and all of the crew. If lunch is going to be delayed half an hour, they’ll inform catering,” she says.
The worst-case scenario happens when the caterers cause delays. “I was on a one-day shoot when a Mainland producer thought it would be nice to have some food truck from the beach make food for everyone,” recalls Alicino. That decision backfired quickly, when the chef, unfamiliar with the fast pace of a set, took five minutes per burrito for each person. By the time lunch was over, the shoot was two and a half hours behind schedule. “We had to pay overtime for everyone,” Alicino says.
At the end of the day, time is money, which is why union crew members eat first, as well as background actors who are members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Both SAG and IATSE workers are required to take 30 minutes of lunch, and the timer starts when the last union member is served. If they go beyond their allotted break, they are paid overtime rates. “That’s why nothing is left to chance. Everything is planned to the last detail,” she says.