The Horror-ific Play-by-Play of Feeding a Film Crew

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What happens when two 20-something girls on a budget, who both experience anxiety and occasional panic attacks, find themselves for the first time ever preparing to cook for 30 people over the course of a four-day film shoot, much less a hardworking, starving horror-film-making crew?

Let’s not overlook the fitting setting for a horror film: shooting in the middle of nowhere, which means picking up last-minute items won’t be easy or cheap…

The following is based on a true story.  No wait, not gonna short-change myself.  The following scenario actually played out, maybe even to the minute (truly did my best to calculate the time).*

32 days before film shoot

1:25 p.m.: My friend messages me that she’s producing a short film and asks if I want to cook for a film crew of 30 people for four days.  We’re good friends and the director, also a good friend, told her I’m “a good cook.” I appreciate the compliment, but not sure if that’s true.

1:26 p.m.: “I don’t really cook much,” I quickly type in reply, but I’m up for the challenge, not giving a second thought to the insanity of it all.

1:35 p.m.: We message back and forth brainstorming “simple” ideas for meals: lasagna, baked potato bar, tacos, spaghetti Bolognese.  I’ll make it easy on myself.

1:36 p.m.: “By the way, what kind of movie is it?”

“It’s a horror film.”  Okay then… my least favorite genre.  Gives me nightmares…

31 days until film shoot

10 a.m.: Ask for the days off from work because I enjoy helping on film sets and need to get away.

10:07 a.m.: Think to myself, I’ve never cooked for more than 10 people at a time and definitely not all three meals for several days.  What have I done…? 

10:30 a.m.:  Eh.  It will be okay. 


14 days before film shoot

5:05 p.m.:  My friend, who is currently living in Bermuda and won’t be back in town until a week before the shoot, wants to talk so we can get things in order.  We plan to talk the next day. She confides in me this is all coming out-of-pocket. I’m a good friend and excited to be asked to take on such a task, so I naively tell her, “I’ll help pay.”


Two days before film shoot

10:55 p.m.: I scribble down a list of meals and think, This doesn’t look so bad.

11:13 p.m.:  After completing my list of food items to buy I sit back, dreaming about the trip to Costco.  I’ve always wanted to utilize Costco the way it was meant to be: buying mounds and mounds of food to feed way too many people.


Day before film shoot

4:50 p.m.: I leave work to pick up my friend to head on our Costco expedition.

5:05 p.m.: Miss the freeway exit because I am too busy rocking out to The Eagle’s, “Take it to the Limit.”  Foreshadowing…?

5:20 p.m.: Finally arrive at my friend’s house.  It’s taken twice as along to get to her because, well, Bay Area traffic sucks and I had to make a u-turn. It should be okay.  Her production meeting isn’t until 8:30 p.m.  Plenty of time.

5:31 p.m.: We arrive at Costco and instinctively each grab a cart.

5:48 p.m.: As we load up soda, muffins, strawberries, chili, coffee, peanut butter, hot dogs, pasta and bagels, we simultaneously look at each other and realize we’re gonna need a bigger cart.

6:01 p.m.: We trade one cart for a flat-bed.  Things just got real.

6: 15 p.m.: Where’s the bacon?  There should be bacon in this aisle!  Deep breath. Deep breath. 

6:22 p.m.:  Frantically compare pasta sauces. Why are there so many different kinds?? It’s pasta sauce! This isn’t Italy.  Oooh Italy. A vacation sounds good… Focus! This one looks good. Head is spinning.

6:30 p.m.: Find a better pasta sauce deal two aisles over.

6:31 p.m.: Countless snacks, three cases of soda and beer later, the flat-bed and shopping cart are both overflowing and it’s taking all our might to steer them through the aisles, around tight corners, while weaving in and around other people with their own carts and flat beds.  Never before have other wandering Costcorians been so annoying.  Get your own damn aisle. 

6:33 p.m.: We reluctantly, because we both feel silly, ask a Costco employee to watch our food while we grab a third cart.

6:34 p.m.: We playfully, but not really, threaten them if our carts are stolen. We laugh but on the inside we know we will cry if they disappear.  But who would steal food? We’re surrounded by food?? Still, it’s a real fear in our anxiety filled brains.

6:41 p.m.: My friend finds the bacon.  Thank goodness. 

6:48 p.m.:  Feverish conversation: “Are we making Lasagna or grilled chicken?”

“Lasagna has lots of ingredients but lasagna is delicious.”  Hem and haw about it.

6:49 p.m.: Lasagna it is!  Geez, these lights are bright in here…

7:01 p.m.: “Should we do sandwiches or hot dogs?”

“Oooooh! Chili dogs.”

7:13 p.m.: Run through the list in my head because the list was on my phone and my stupid phone died.  Mental note: Time for a new phone.

7:14 p.m.: Is it wise to trust my memory with so many people relying on me?  It’s only 30 people who I’m cooking for over 3 days…wait 4 days?

7:15 p.m.: Make bets about how much it will cost.

7:15:30 p.m.: Jokingly exclaim, “$1,000 dollars!”  My friend looks worried.

7:16 p.m.: Get in line and clumsily arrange both overflowing carts and the flat-bed so people know what they’re in for if they choose to get in line behind us.

7:18: p.m.: Notice customers giving us weird looks and sighing under their breath.

7:19 p.m.: Begin to wonder if this is a lot of food even for Costco.

7:21 p.m.: Costco clerk confirms this passing thought with, “Yeah, I haven’t seen this much food come through here in a lonnnng time…”  Are the walls closing in? I think I’m becoming claustrophobic. 

7:22 p.m.: Joke with surrounding strangers and the clerks that we’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse.  We might as well be.  It’s a horror movie after all.

7:25 p.m.: People ask what we’re doing and we simply tell them it’s for a film shoot.  Suddenly they’re cool with our extravagant, obnoxious food supply.  Maybe we’re even good friends now.  They send us off with well-wishes, at least they would if we weren’t standing in front of them.

7:26 p.m.: One Costco clerk takes over loading items onto the conveyor belt.  She’s strategic and stern and shoos me away when I try to help.  This is a check-out of monstrous proportions and we clearly have no business helping.

7:28 p.m.: Two more staff join her to ease the burden.

7:31 p.m.: Glance over and notice the receipt is halfway to the floor.

7:31: 20 p.m.: I begin writing down the list of items I need to buy at Safeway because guess what?  I actually do have limits, and just don’t need 53 lbs of cottage cheese. Thanks for nothing Costco!

7:34 p.m.:  We look at each other with the same horrifying realization: We need to call for back up because there’s no way this is all fitting in my car.

7: 36 p.m.: Call back up.  She’ll be here in 20 minutes. Whew. Crisis averted.

7:48 p.m.:  Receipt totals over $1,200.  I stay true to my word and help pay.  It’s the least I can do.

7:49 p.m.:  Nearing the exit and we can’t believe it but we’ve been stopped by the receipt checker because guess what?  What’re the odds with ALL this food they were able to see that somehow a checker missed one item?  Damn they’re diligent.  Chuckle to myself because this has never before happened  in my entire Costco-loving life.

7:50 p.m.: Decide we can do without it.  Who needs a third blow up mattress anyway?  One of the Production Assistants can sleep on the cold, hard floor.

7:51 p.m.: Run to my car and pull it up to the front, and wonder for moment if I can just break the law and park on the sidewalk because it’s closer to the door.  This kind of car loading deserves special treatment.

7:52 p.m.: I concede.  I’m a law-abiding citizen, so I park in the loading zone (and let’s face it, I don’t have time to argue with someone about why we’re parked on the sidewalk and not the street).

7:53 p.m.: We begin playing Tetris, strategically picking and placing items into my car.

8:09 p.m.: Everyone stares as we load clearly too much food into a Ford Fusion. Thank goodness for its spacious back seat and trunk.  Too bad I forgot to clean out the trunk beforehand.

8:16 p.m.: Almost done and two of the most muscular Costco employees ask if we need help.  Nah, think we got it handled from here boys.

8:17 p.m.:  Wish I cleaned out the trunk.  When will I learn?

8:24 p.m.: We both laugh and congratulate each other because we now have proof that we’re both damn good at playing real-life Tetris.

8:27 p.m.: Try to fling the croissant packages into the very back so they’re not in the front seat where they could get unceremoniously crushed. Succeed with one. Give up on remaining two. No….more….energy…

8:29 p.m.: Run to buy a polish hot dog because I’m starving. The second car has arrived and there’s not much left to load.

8:33 p.m.: Contemplate the irony of buying more food when my car is overflowing with it.

8:45 p.m.: Arrive at Safeway to buy more food, even though I can’t even see out my rearview mirror. Damn you croissants and your flaky, delicate exteriors.  Call my mom to ask about the ingredients for her lasagna.

8:50 p.m.: My friend reminds me she needs to be at a production meeting that started 20 minutes ago.  Run around Safeway gathering the items.

9:00 p.m.: Check out and pull ice chests out of my car.  One ice chest is full of nothing but 26 lbs of ground turkey meat. Decide we need more ice otherwise this meat ain’t makin’ it through the night.

9:10 p.m.:  Everything’s loaded and properly iced, I hope.  Can’t very well make lasagna without cheese… OH! The horror!

9:12 p.m.: The three of us hug goodbye and plan to leave at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

9:25 p.m.: Pull into my driveway and set the parking brake so the extra weight of the food doesn’t pull my car into our street, of which every inch is lined with cars.  I know about  inertia’s devious capabilities.  Nothing like a parked car stopping my once parked car from plowing into a neighboring house.

9:25:02 p.m.: Wonder if this is even a realistic fear.

9:26 p.m.: Mentally prepare for all the food I’ll be cooking over four days.  For 30 people. Thirty hardworking, starving, film people.  Decide I’m excited and ready for the challenge.

9:27 p.m.:  Freak out for a moment hoping between the three of us all the perishable items were placed on ice.

9:33 p.m.:  Pray again that no ones breaks into my car to steal the food.  I do, after all, live in a neighborhood prone to helicopter searchlight visits. There always seems to be someone fleeing the cops.  Also, recently learned I live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. But whoever heard of poor people needing food? Eh, it’s all good.

10:10 p.m.:  Glance at my car from the upstairs window to make sure it’s still in the driveway. And that there are no broken windows.

It’s gonna be okay.  Time for bed.

Day 1 of Film Shoot

8:30 a.m.: While pulling food out to be packed into the passenger van, find one lone cottage cheese container sitting in a brown paper bag in the back seat of my friend’s car.  I inhale sharply.  It wasn’t iced all night long… (cue: the infamous Pyscho screeching violins loudly play in my head, piercing my ears).

Inhale. Exhale. I’m okay.


*Editor’s Note: I adore Costco and they are a lovely, lovely company.  The anxiety-ridden post is all true, but I still adore Costco.

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