Lunch “Break”

I’m a people pleaser, which is why ordering lunch is very stressful for me.

On most shows, the office will eat off the catering truck, like the rest of the crew. But that only works if the company is on stage, and shooting daylight hours. If the crew is shooting a split day, you can’t expect office workers that came in around eight to wait until five o’clock for lunch.

Thus, the office will order lunch for themselves, post, sometimes art and the writers, too. (It kinda depends on how these various departments are laid out around the studio.)

I’ve heard some shows will just pick a restaurant and pass around the menu, letting people pick out whatever they want (as long as it’s under $X, where X is whatever the producer thinks she can get away with).  I’ve never worked on one of those. I’ve always been on shows that order catering-sized dishes from restaurants, then serve those buffet-style.

On the one hand, ordering one large meal takes far less time. No waiting around for people to hem and haw about whether they want the caesar or garden salad.  On the other hand, it means I have to pick out food that everybody’s going to like.

Now, I realize this is all in my head. People are getting free food, and as long as it doesn’t violate a few basic dietary requirements (religious or otherwise), they shouldn’t complain. I’ve been told as much by most every coordinator I’ve ever worked for.

But that’s just not how I’m wired. I want everybody to be happy. I can’t just order what I’d like to eat. I desperately want everyone to enjoy their lunch.  Which is, basically, impossible; someone will always complain about the food.

And then there’s the logistics of how many people are eating. When you look at a catering menu at most restaurants, they’ll say a given dish serves between, for instance, ten and fifteen people. Order three of those, and it might be enough for thirty people (not enough) or forty-five (way too much).

If you don’t order enough, the APOC goes into a panic, and sends you off to pick up another tray of food. By the time you get back, nobody’s hungry anymore, because they realized there’s a kitchen full of snacks that are just as free. So you end up getting yelled at and wasting forty-five minutes of your life, and the food doesn’t get eaten, anyway.

On the flip side, if you order too much food, the producer (who can barely remember your name at the best of times) gets in your face about wasting the show’s money.

Essentially what I’m saying is, there’s no way for this to go right.

I have a friend on another show whose APOC orders lunch. Man, I would love that. The next time someone is all, “Hey, why isn’t there any more X?” or “How come there’s so much Y?”, I could just shrug say, “Ask the APOC. All I did was pick it up.”

That would be nice.

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8 Responses

  1. In our production office, we created a meal wheel, wheel of fortune style. We spin it to decide where we are getting lunch from that day (producer’s idea!).

  2. I generally pick favorites and cater to them. There’s just no way i’m going to make everyone happy, so why try? When lunch is in my hands I cater to my bosses (POC, APOC,) and the ADs wants and needs. Those are the people who hire PAs in the future on other shows. If the construction coordinator complains about the food, I’ll listen. But if the 2nd AD has a complaint, I feel called to action. This goes with everything else too, not just lunch. Coffee, distro, etc. I operate always thinking about how I’m going to help myself get my next job. Lunch is just another opportunity.

  3. This is my worst nightmare. The last film I worked on, I always hid when I heard anything about lunch, ordering lunch, finding a restaurant, or going around and counting people and seeing what they wanted.

    I will *volunteer* to do ANYTHING else. Anything. I go into nervous sweats when we start talking food.

  4. I recently worked on a show where the coordinator would approve the lunch for us, then we would order it based on her preferences, and then she would bitch us out for not getting what she wanted. Lunch was a constant battle.

    I’m lucky now to be working on a show where we’ve worked long enough to establish relationships with the local restaurants.

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