15 Jun 2009

Welcome to Hollywood… the land of catering

By Producer Gareth

We are on the set of Russell’s new movie “Get Him To The Greek”. Today’s shoot is in the LA desert and seems to particularly excite Russell as he frequently informs us that it is “the same place Iron Man was filmed”. Unfortunately not everyone seems to share the same enthusiasm for this nugget of trivia as ol’ Russ, maybe because his repetition is beginning to stray into Grandad war story territory – “So, we were filming in the same place they shot Iron Man, Hitler had just invaded Poland and Vera Lynn was playing on the wireless… no, wait.”

That said, the set is an exhilarating place. A crew made up of hundreds, giant pieces of scenery, explosions – the works. Even Russell’s trailor has a sense of grandeur to it – the understated ‘Star Wagon’, its logo printed in exactly the same font as ‘Star Wars’. Now, I can’t imagine George Lucas has fallen on such hard times that he’s had to extend his franchise to include fancy caravans but if so I’m not sure what characteristics the trailor shares with the Star Wars trilogy, although the smell from Rusty’s bathroom certainly has a touch of the dark side to it.

One of the greatest novelties to being on set is experiencing the marvel that is ‘Craft Services’. If you are unaware of this phenomenon, I shall enlighten you. It is an on-set catering service that runs throughout the day. “Catering service, you say? Sounds a bit boring.” And I’ll admit that at first I imagined mini sausage rolls, cheese and pineapple sticks, triangular egg sandwiches and a half-frozen chocolate gateaux – what transpired was a mind-blowing smorgasbord of the most enticing treats known to man. Chocolate, icecream, candy, crisps, pastries, cakes – you name it, they have it.

American snacks are alluring, exciting and come in every shape and colour imaginable. Junior Mints, Butterfingers, Jolly Ranchers, Baby Ruths – I thought the latter was a fictional chocolate bar shared between Chunk and Sloth in The Goonies. They seem like a strange choice as product endorsers, those two -
“Right, we need to sell more Baby Ruth’s, which movie stars can we get to eat them, Randy?”
“OK, I’m thinking… an obese teenager”
“Keep talking…”
“And a deformed strongman…?”
“Boo-ya! Randy, you never let me down.”

On our first on set day I was advised by a member of the crew to steer clear from Craft Services if I knew what was good for me (for health reasons, he wasn’t some overprotective mob boss telling me to stay away from his sister, Crafty Servizia). I politely smiled and agreed but instantly harboured a mild resentment towards him and internally barked back “Please sir, do not insult me by confusing me with your overeating American brothers, for I am an Englishman – self control is in our blood.”

I spent the rest of the day pouring myself tea and picking at fruit but by day two my dignity had taken a back seat as I caved into my gluttonous inclinations and transformed into a kind of disgraced adult Augustus Gloop character, ashamedly devouring treats aplenty. Don’t judge me on that, could you honestly say you’d be able to resist a gleaming Snickers icecream if it was offered to you? I think it would’ve tested even Gandhi’s self-restraint.
“I undertake this long fast as means of both self-purification and social protest”
“That’s all very well Gandhi, but have you tried one of these Snickers icecreams?”
“There’s a Snickers icecream? And I thought the bar was good. Oh hell, the fast can wait a day!”

The novelty of their sweets even extends to those that are exactly the same as in England, just with different or alternate names. Snickers here used to be called Mars, the UK Mars are called Milky Way, not to be confused with the UK Milky Way which over here is called 3 Musketeer. Why all the confusion? I wouldn’t be surprised if candy bigwigs did it purposely so that patriotic idiots like me jump on a Russian roulette choco-merry-go-round, consuming each and every last one in case there’s a sniff of a homegrown chocolate bar. If their Maltesers ever turn out to be ‘effing coffee Revels, I’ll go nuts.

Well, must go. Babs has just arrived and already Russ has put his beloved mum through a couple of house initiations. Firstly throwing a lemon onto a neighbour’s roof and secondly telling a story whilst wearing a fruit bowl on her head onto which Russell’s scribbled “Mum’s story hat.“ It’s all so damn Hollywood!