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The chuck wagon

Photo: Toy racing car

Photo: Toy racing car

On a film/TV set the restaurant vehicles are referred to as the chuck wagons. Sometimes they are sexy caravans. Often they are converted buses, with the food being served out of catering vans.

Good food is essential on a busy set. Bad food could kill a production. Meals and snacks are served throughout the day starting with breakfast, then elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and supper.

There is a hierarchy to these mealtimes. The cast often eat in their own area. The technical staff all eat together – from director to the guy that sweeps the set. The extras always eat in their own bus. Fraternising is never encouraged.

The food helps keep boredom at bay too. Filming can be dull, lots of hanging around waiting for your scene. I spent quite a lot of time on the set of ‘Bugs’ in the late nineties. I made computer animations for several episodes.

I was amazed how laid back things were on set. Nothing like the tension of my studio when I often didn’t have time to even order a sandwich, let alone eat it. Being on set was a bit of a holiday and I loved the food. So did the extras. I’d watch them become animated as meal times approached. There was always a lot of laughter coming from their bus.

Yesterday I introduced you to Ross. What I didn’t tell you was that he’s a great storyteller and raconteur. My favourite tale happened on the set of the movie Grand Prix 1966.

It was the scene where Yves Montand’s racing car crashes. The extras in the crowd were directed to look horrified.  The cameras rolled and the extras grimaced but could not display real anguish. They did the take time after time and still the extras couldn’t get it right.

They were restive. It was near lunch time.

The director eventually had a brainwave. He sent his runner away with instructions. As the extras waited for lunch they saw their chuck wagon being towed to the other side of the track. The cameras filmed their happy expectant faces and continued to roll. Suddenly the chuck wagon exploded in a roar of dynamite and smoke. Anguish ensued and the director got exactly the expressions that he had wanted all morning. No acting required.

This scene is towards the end of this 8-minute clip on YouTube. The entire clip is worth watching just for a bit of speed and drama. The few seconds of the crowd reacting are marvellous cinema.


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7 Comments

  1. Toffeeapple

    What marvellous stories you have to tell, I think that is the reason I like your blog so much. Thank you and big hugs!

  2. Oh how deviously cruel… I love it!

  3. totally off topic but.. OMG. i used to ADORE “Bugs”. great programme.. silly, but great!

  4. moggymerlin

    Thanks Fiona. I’m off to buy the DVD. Had forgotten about the film, but love Spa and we go every year and race with our series – very low key and very poor relations of F1!!

  5. What a great story!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sharon,

    Sorry, I forgot to instert the link. It is there now in the final sentence.

  7. What interesting stories.

    I’d love to see the end scene but I can’t find the link to the clip on YouTube.

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