Inside the Chaos: How to Eat Healthy on a Movie Set

movieset3.jpgby Kierston Drier

We’ve all been there.

You know what I am talking about the great divide that is your health and the workplace. It’s no different for the industry of film and television. Oh wait… yeah it is. Juggling health, cost and time is always a hassle. And let’s not forget those five to ten servings of fruits and veggies followed by that roughly 90 minutes of cardio at least once a week.


Long working hours

You’re probably working a 12-hour day plus lunch and commuting. So lets round that up at a 15-hour day. (One hour lunch, plus approximately one hour in commuting each way.) Add an average eight hours for sleeping  (and yeah, who REALLY gets that much?!) and you have “drum roll please” one extra hour in your day! One whole hour to do everything else in your life like showering, checking emails, paying bills, answering personal calls, seeing your friends and/or family, maybe unwind with a glass of wine and somewhere in there maybe fit in some step aerobics.

High Stress- High Energy Job

Any job on set is usually specialized, and there’s normally a lot of pressure on set “get the right shot, meet a deadline, hit your mark, and do it all with a smile on your face.” Regardless, while life in production has a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, and standing around, it definitely makes up for it in the times when it is go-go-go and totally hectic.


Almost constant access to food

Enough said. Between catered meals and craft tables, on any show above a student-level film, you will likely at least be fed.

The great debate is how to manage hunger, boredom and hectic lifestyles with the constant access to food of all kinds around you!

I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian, or even someone who claims to be super healthy, but here’s how I break down a (fairly) guilt-free day of set-snacking. While set calls vary by show, I used a standard 12+1 hour daytime schedule.

4:40 a.m.– I’m up and out the door for a 6 a.m. call. I’ve showered the night before, check my emails on the streetcar, and grab a 1/2 a banana on my way out to jump start my metabolism, wake me up and follow my grandmothers’ advice (“never skip breakfast!”).

6 a.m.- My actual call time. Hopefully your crafty is on set and has the basics out, which hopefully includes the “hot and ready” breakfast. If you have this luxury, I advise to take advantage of it. I always vouch for a high-protein option to fill me up. Eggs and bacon are my go to if I have them, but for vegetarians and vegans look for oatmeal or a granola with non-dairy milk.

8:30-9 a.m.– Sometimes you miss breakfast, and sometimes you only get the tiniest bite before you have to run off! Regardless, three hours into call, craft services should at least have the two Big C’s: coffee and carbs. In my opinion, this is the time (if you have it) to grab something carb heavy. You have the whole day to work it off, and it will keep you from being super hungry later. I’m a morning person, so I usually skip the coffee and grab some more fruit: pineapple, cantaloupe, fresh berries with maybe a small yogurt, will keep me going. Note: Also, now would be a good time to grab a bottle (or two) of water!

11 a.m.- If I’ve missed my chance to grab food, this is when I’ll grab coffee number one. As a personal rule I don’t add sugar to any beverage; sugar wiggles its way into so much food on set, I do what I can to limit it when I have the option. I usually grab a coffee with a non-dairy option (almond, rice, or soy milk). If a sub is going out I ask myself this system of questions to decide if I take the AM sub or not: Am I hungry? Do I really want this sub? Is it better to have something smaller now (like a piece of fruit) knowing lunch is coming?

1 p.m.- Usually lunch time! I fill up my plate accordingly:

1/4 plate: Hot veggies (Steamed green veggies like green beans, broccoli, asparagus, etc.)

1/4 plate: Cold veggies (Raw veggies, salad greens, mixed salads, marinated veg salads, whatever they have)

1/4 plate: Starches (Baked yams, squash or rice. You can also do pasta or potatoes!)

1/4 plat: Protein. (There is usually a vegetarian protein option, but I often go for the leanest meat I have access to. Chicken or lamb are good options, as is fish!)

Note: Remember to grab a beverage! My recommendation: water.

3 p.m.- This is when I get coffee. And I might take this opportunity to indulge with chocolate, a cookie or maybe even a handful of potato chips. If you’re really conscious about eating healthy, can those indulgences and reach for the trail mix, some raw veggies or fiber-filled fruits that will fill you up and keep you full!

5 p.m.- I’m usually not hungry around now, but if you are, grab a handful of one of the treats mentioned above! Try hummus and crackers, raw veggies or a banana/apple/pear, or even soup if the crafty has prepared some. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with maybe another glass of “dare I say water.”

7 p.m.- If all goes well, by now I am wrapped and on my way home. I try to use my time to my advantage “I check my emails on the bus”, and, if I catch craft in time before they leave, I’ve filled a thermos with a sugarless herbal tea to drink on the way home.

9 p.m.- Of course as it would have it, now I’m hungry, but trying to be good, I’m likely to grab something like cheese and crackers, hummus and crackers, soup I’ve made at home or even a bowl of popcorn. When I get home I usually make a snack, hop in the shower, call a friend or family for a brief chat, then put my feet up for 20 minutes and read or noodle around the internet until sleep time, at say 10:45 p.m.

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Inside The Chaos: When to Walk Away from a job.

When to Walk Away from a job.jpgby Kierston Drier

An adage in my family has long since been, “Some of the best jobs are the ones you don’t take.”

I can’t believe I am writing this, but for this first time since entering the world of film and television, I turned down work.

Not just turned it down, but walked away from a job that was handed to me. Walked out in the interview. And I firmly believe it was the right thing to do. I gathered enough information during the interview to understand that the show I was being offered a job in would be far more difficult than the reciprocation they were offering. I’m going to share with you some of the warning signs for what to look for and how to tell when it might be better to let a job pass you by.


It’s important to start at the beginning here. There is a difference between getting an interview for a mass applied for job posting online, a call from a head hunter, and a personalized referral from a colleague or known source. Mass applied for jobs are likely to have a large pool of applicants, and head hunters can usually guarantee a certain amount of quality in their offers . Referrals are common and trusted in the film and television industry, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the person who referred you, what your professional relationship with them is, and who they chose to send your information to.


Research the production company, the show, and, if possible, the team you’re with. Some shows are secretive and keep their information quiet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t research the production company or tap your industry resources for reviews and references on working with the company or similar team. Listen to multiple viewpoints, and listen to everyone’s opinion. Don’t make an opinion on your own immediately, but listen to and tuck away what you hear from others and what you glean from your own personal research.


Know what job you’re going in for. Know it inside and out. Know what it takes to do your job correctly and what things you need the job to be able to provide you in order for you to perform your responsibilities. Need access to reliable transportation? Need to be promised a certain type of equipment? A specifically allocated budget? Know what you’d like to have, know what you need to have, and know what the happy medium would be between the two so that you can negotiate comfortably.


This is so so important. Know your rate! Know your personal rate, know the professional rate for that job in general, know what your worth is based on your experience and your craftsmanship. Make sure the people hiring you know what that rate is. Go in with knowing what you’d LIKE to make, what you SHOULD make and what rate is TOO LOW.

There is a strategy to working below rate and working for free. Sometimes it is done for experience, for a special credit, or for a passion project or for a friend. But remember when going in for a JOB, what is your relationship to the employer? If the job is one you have done before, and one you have experience in, then there is little reason you should accept any lower than the standard professional rate. Unless you are doing a favour for a friend or close contact, you should not be willing to negotiate that rate any lower than industry standard.


Walk away when:

-The company refuses to answer all your professional questions with clear, informative answers.

-The company or production makes unrealistic promises that they do not put in writing.

-The company  or production uses non-committal language while discussing details that are absolutely necessary for your job to be completed. (Ex. ” We’re pretty sure we’ll have enough money for that [insert absolutely necessary item].”)

-The production or company refuses to pay your kit fee, or supplement you for your own materials without prior discussed and written consent.

-The information you are basing your job around keeps changing.  (Ex. A craft person who constantly gets a different head count number than predicted; a location manager whose location requirements keep changing.)

-The job is physically more hours, labour or requirements than is legal.

Remember,  some jobs aren’t worth the headache!

When to Walk Away from a job2