Film production work is tough. 30+ day schedules, long hours, continuous night shifts, it really takes a toll on the human body. It’s a rare shoot where somebody doesn’t fall sick or faint due to production-related health issues. One of the major reasons for such incidents is the lack of a proper nutritional diet.
In this article we’ll look at some important dietary considerations that will help crew members stay energetic, alert and healthy, regardless of the duration of the shoot.
Important: This is not medical or professional advice. Do not act on this information. Please consult a qualified physician before making any dietary or health-related changes. You are responsible for your own actions and well-being.
The first thing to know is that it’s not uncommon for hard working film crews to need a calorie intake of around 3500 (for males) and about 2700 (for females) per day. It’s easy to burn an average of 1,000 calories daily on a shoot. You eat less, and you’ll lose weight (most likely important muscle mass) and lose energy steadily. Worst case you’ll fall sick. If you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
Everyone looks good and sounds fine on day one. But on day ninety? With this in mind, let’s look at some good food ideas:
Have a balanced diet
This one is a no brainer, but very few people (including doctors) actually understand what comprises a balanced diet. Blame the tabloid health section for it.
While diet mantras are a dime a dozen, the accepted “starting point” breakdown is 40% Carbohydrates, 40% Proteins and 20% fat per meal. This maintains the BMI index. Excess carbs are turned into blood sugar, detrimental to well being. Excess protein plays havoc on the digestive system. But, one can increase the protein intake if the shoot is in a cold region. Be sure to include plenty of meat, eggs and unprocessed cheese such as Gouda in your diet, which will supply the requisite healthy fats as well.
Control harmful “nutrients”
Be sure to cut down on processed sugar as they make one feel very drowsy and tired after a temporary energy spike. Also, food containing excessive harmful fats like triglycerides can increase cholesterol and cause a drastic gain in weight. This is to be watched out for when consuming foods that contain processed carbs – like burgers, pizza, subs etc.
Include comfort food
While this may seem like a complete contradiction to the previous point, it is mandatory to include some comfort food in film craft services. Film shoots are emotionally, physically and mentally taxing. At times like these, comfort food, as the name suggests, plays an important role in calming and relaxing frayed nerves. So, while keeping your menu healthy, do not avoid fattening or ‘quickfix’ fast foods completely as they serve their own purpose. Everything in moderation.
Variety and Taste
It is a common misconception that healthy food has to be bland and boring. A little research can go a long way in making your menu extensive, and the food scrumptious yet healthy. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and a new menu everyday is sure to put a smile on your crew members’ faces. If the food is delicious, nothing like it.
Also, variety can help those with allergies avoid certain foods and still feel nourished.
Meal replacement bars
While most crew members get comfortable, relaxed break timings most of the time, some might not be so fortunate. One healthy solution is to provide meal replacement bars. In contingency situations, these bars can provide the requisite nutrients for the human body to keep functioning efficiently, and you can eat them in about ten minutes standing on your feet. However, take note that most people don’t like meal replacement bars, and do not feel “full” after having them, so don’t make the mistake of thrusting it down someone’s throat. Also, there are a wide variety of meal replacement bars, some having allergens. So it is best to offer bars only to those who specifically ask for them.
Have consistent break timings
Except for exceptional cases, always try to have a fixed and consistent meal breaks for everyone. It relaxes people when they see other people relaxed. While this might take some extra effort and intricate planning between the 1st AD and the Unit Production Manager, the crew will remain positive and they’ll put in their all as a silent thank you. A happy, optimistic crew works far more efficiently than a disgruntled one.
Restrict Night Shifts
Night scenes are present in many film shoots and is one of the most dreaded by crew members. Erratic work hours affect sleep cycles and man’s natural circadian rhythms. This in turn leads to scattered thinking, crankiness and sluggishness. Again, this can be avoided by proper planning and execution like bunching up all night scenes together to ensure a fixed sleeping pattern and that everyone gets adequate R&R.
Maintain food hygiene
While food standards are imperative on sets, this often goes for a toss with all the hustle bustle and different kinds of people hogging the craft area. Serving out food to large amounts of people can and will cause a mess, and invite germs to where we don’t want them. You could prevent this by educating crew members on how to maintain proper food hygiene. This shouldn’t even be a tip, but you’d be surprised.
Making sure all have adequate water supply
. Also, it is said one must consume about half a gallon of water everyday to keep up the body’s water levels. However, crew members need a lot more due to their high activity levels which results in faster dehydration through sweating. So, apart from reminding crew members to drink water at regular intervals, one can go the extra mile and make sure water jars, cans, bottles, drinking taps are strategically located at points which crew members pass by often on set. Don’t make them run a mile for water.
A serious look at these considerations can keep your crew members peppy, proactive and healthy. If all this sounds too complicated, hire or consult a nutritionist. They canl prepare the ideal menu that can be passed on to craft services. It may seem like an added burden to the mountain of responsibilities that pile up during a film shoot, but trust me, in the long run you’ll thank yourself for taking such a wise decision.
Next time you order pizza for everyone, think twice.