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What Is a Call Sheet?
A call sheet is a daily filming schedule created by the assistant director on a show or movie. Based on the director’s shot list, a call sheet contains important details, like the location, the cast call times (what time to arrive for work), and the shooting schedule. The document is distributed to all cast and crew so they know when to be on set and where to go.
4 Functions of a Call Sheet
A call sheet is one of the most important production documents in filmmaking. It breaks down the who, what, where, and when of the production phase on a day by day basis. The main goals of a call sheet are:
- To organize all cast and crew: The central function of a call sheet is ensuring the cast and crew arrive at the right place at the right time.
- To indicate who is required: A call sheet lets everyone know who needs to be on the film set that day.
- To keep a film production on schedule: A movie or show has a budget for a specific number of filming days. Any deviation from the shooting schedule can cause the project to go over budget.
- To set clear expectations: A call sheet lets production personnel and cast members know what scenes they will be filming that day.
13 Things You Need to Include on Your Call Sheet
From the weather forecast to the nearest hospital, a call sheet lays out the information that the crew might need during production. The first page always contains the most important details but the entire document is a carefully curated digest for that particular shoot day.
Here are 13 things to include on a call sheet:
- Date and day of the shoot: The date and the day of the shoot (i.e. shoot day 1 of 15) should be listed at the top of the first page.
- Call time: The general crew call time should be easy to find on the first page. The call time is when the crew needs to be on set and ready to start work. Cast calls are individual call times for specific actors or actresses.
- Production title and company: The name of the project, as well as the production company and production office contact info, should also be included on the first page.
- Weather: The weather forecast, including wind, temperature, and sunset times, can impact both indoor and outdoor filming and will give crew an idea of expected filming conditions.
- Important points of contact: The names of the director, producer, first assistant director (1st AD), and the production manager, as well as their contact information should be on the call sheet.
- Locations: The or addresses of filming locations, as well as any parking information. Call sheets also list the address of the nearest hospital with an emergency room.
- Crew list: The names and contact information for every crew member on set that day. Equipment lists are also often included here.
- Shooting schedule: A call sheet outlines the scenes that will be filmed that day, including the scene number, scene heading and description, what cast members are in each scene, and the location. Lunch time and the estimated wrap time will also be listed in the schedule.
- Cast: Cast members who needs to be on set that day are listed in this section as well as their character names and call times. Extras and stand-ins (people who stand in place of actors while technical adjustments are made to lighting and camera) also have call times and are listed just below the main cast section.
- General notes: These are the notes that apply to everyone on set. For instance, if there is a stunt happening that day that requires a special safety notification, it would be mentioned here.
- Special notes: This is where the AD lists any specific notes for departments. For instance, the prop department would look here for information about specific props needed for certain scenes.
- Walkie channels: Many film productions use walkie talkies on set, and different departments are assigned their own channels to communicate. While there are industry standards for channel assignment by department, it’s still important to list these on the film call sheet.
- Advanced schedule: An advanced schedule gives the cast and crew information about the next day’s shooting schedule so they can prepare ahead of time.
How to Create a Call Sheet in 10 Steps
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Here are 10 basic steps to create a call sheet for your next production:
- Get organized. Gather all of the information you need to put on the call sheet.
- Choose your template. Some ADs create call sheets in Excel, but there are call sheet software programs that offer free call sheet templates.
- Keep your call sheets organized and easy to access. Create folders on your computer so you can save all relevant information, like call sheets and production reports, together by date.
- Make your call sheet as detailed as possible. You don’t want to risk leaving off important information.
- Use bold or all caps for information that you want to stand out. This might include certain phone number or important safety information.
- Check in with the department heads. Run through the details with head department personnel to see if everything looks okay. For instance, review lighting information with the key grip.
- Add the latest weather forecast. Keep it as current as possible, since forecasts often change on a day by day basis.
- Only send call sheet out once to avoid confusion. Review all of the information and make sure everything on the call sheet is correct before you hit send.
- Make sure the call sheet is received. After emailing the call sheet to the cast and crew, track who replies to make sure everyone has received it.
- Have paper copies of the call sheet on set. These will come in handy for staying organized throughout the day.
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