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Student Film Needs CHEAP Catering

I'm a student in the area who will be shooting a film here in late March/early April. We are a VERY low budget production and were wondering if anyone had any suggestions for ways to keep our food costs down. I once worked on a set in another city where lunches were catered by a local woman. Her food was tasty, filling, healthy, and inexpensive. Unfortunately, finding someone like that seems almost impossible unless you are in the know. You know? Does anyone know of any local DC/VA/MD caterers like this?

We'll have about 10 people on set per day and have budgeted about $10 per day per person for food (approx. $100/day). We figure that we'll need to do one substantial meal a day plus snacks and drinks (a work day will be anywhere from 10 to 12 hours). Unfortunately, we the filmmakers will not be able to cook since we'll be too busy with the filmaking process. Any ideas on how to feed a group on this kind of budget will be much appreciated.

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  1. Inquire at Rickashickas@hotmail.com ... they may be able to help.

    1. If you don't have luck with a private caterer, you could go with a chain like Boston Market -- 1/4 roast chicken, 2 veggies & a piece of cornbread around $5-$6 per person.

      1. Also you could get food from Lebanese Market and that could easily keep you under your budget

        1. Pick up a big tray of ready-made sandwich wraps from Costco. Or check out the catering menus and get a gallon of chili from the nearest Hard Times Cafe. Or bulk BBQ from the nearest Red Hot & Blue. Or spring for the $3.99 sandwiches from Potbelly.


          And keep a supply of Costco- or grocery-store bought cans of soda, bottled water and individual bags of chips on hand (along with a cooler and ice), the markups you pay getting these through caterers are huge.

          1. I've used 3rd and Eats. They will work with you. They are also a culinary jobs training program for recovering addicts and alcoholics with an excellent success record of outplacement into permanent jobs.
            Do some good while getting some good food.

            1. Try California Tortilla, which is a local burrito chain. I

              1. Your budget says it all. If you have $100 per day, say even $200, who is going to be willing to personally buy food and drinks, prepare things, bring them to the site, provide paper goods, clean up, etc., and maybe have $50 cash left over for all that work--that might work out to $5 an hour or so. I think you should forget about a caterer, and just order things in as needed. You didn't say where in the DC area you will be, but there are small ethnic places just about everywhere who would be happy to provide from their usual menu, and maybe even deliver in some cases. There is always the local Chinese place as Plan B if not Plan A. Other times, send someone to the nearest decent store or deli (WF, Harris Teeter, Wegmans) and pick up some sliced meats, cheeses, breads, salads, etc., whatever's on sale with luck, and let everyone make up what they want. Even Safeway has good deli meats (their "Primo" line).

                1 Reply
                1. re: johnb

                  Thanks, johnb. You said it all. I was about to say that the OP was violating the first law of location shooting: keep your crew well fed. On this budget, you're going to have an unhappy crew, which will make for an unhappy production, and that translates to the screen. Having been unfortunate enough to participate in two indie productions, crews put in LONG hours, for little if any pay. One of the few things they can look forward to is a decent well-stocked craft services table. Even if it's just burgers and pizza, you have to get the best and keep it coming. To try and skimp on this basic necessity is to invite disaster. Crews can live with shoddy lodgings and 4am calls. They won't put up with lousy food.

                  That said, if you've got a crew of 10, fire that 10th guy and hire line cook who can make meals on the cheap. It'll make the difference between a smooth shoot and pure hell.

                2. How about going to Costco get getting a bunch of their prepare food? Veggie plate, fruit plate, rotisserie chicken, wraps, sandwiches, etc all within in your budget. You can also pick up drinks and sides (e.g., chips, potato salad) for cheap.

                  You may also think about DC Bahn Mi (or other bahn mi places). Vietnamease sandwiches for about $3 buck for a good size sandwiches are well within you budget.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Soup

                    I second the suggestion about Bahn Mi. These are filling, tasty subs--and many places have them between $2.50 and $3 each, with a buy 5, get 1 free deal. There are lots of places in the Eden Center that sell Bahn Mi. The lemongrass pork and vegetarian versions will be the most popular for non Vietnamese diners.

                    DC Bahn Mi does not deliver--I know because my spouse arranges orders from them for his department from time to time.

                  2. get a fellow student who can cook put together something nice--or go with the 6 foot hero stuffed with Italian deli meats and cheese and lettuce and tomato--or make a huge pot of soup and salad--hot cider nice too-