What is a Call Sheet? & How to Make One
You are ready to shoot, and it’s time to gather all your key information and provide it to your team. How do you do this? The answer: make a call sheet. What exactly is a call sheet? Quite simply, a call sheet is the daily agenda for your production. Whether you are producing a commercial, a short film, or even a feature, knowing how to master the call sheet is a critical skill to have.
The call sheet should provide quite a bit of information and focus on the events of that particular day. Let’s dive into the world of call sheets. The following is a breakdown of what needs to be included on your call sheet, in order of how it should appear.
Date and name of your production
Be sure to include the date on your call sheet. Be detailed and include the day of the week and the numerical date as well. Include the name of your production at the top of the call sheet.
Day of days
Day of days refers to the number of days in your production and the specific day of your call sheet. An example would be “Day 2 of 4” or “Day 1 of 1.”
Scope out the parking situation before you shoot, then share this information on the call sheet for each location and company move.
Include the local weather report for the day. This will help your crew prepare for any specific weather conditions.
Local medical facilities
In case of a medical emergency or an on-set injury, include the name and address of the closest medical facility.
You want to let your cast and crew know exactly where they need to be. Again, you want to be very specific here. Include full addresses and list your addresses in the order of your shoot for that day.
There should be a list of contacts for the person(s) that will serve as the key contact for any questions or concerns. Put this contact information right at the top of the sheet. You never know when your cast, crew, or client might need reach out.
Now, for the main body of our call sheet. This is where we see a detailed breakdown of the production schedule.
Divide your call sheet into hourly increments starting with your call time. Is your crew call earlier than your cast or client call time? Make a note of this.
Break down your sheet’s schedule into scenes. Be thoughtful and detailed here. If you are shooting at multiple locations in one day, plan your day accordingly — schedule all the scenes set on one particular location in order so as to avoid unnecessary company moves. Each scene should include specific information, including the page count and page number, pulled from your script for that particular scene.
In addition, make note of the names of the characters or on-camera talent appearing in that scene; the scene number; the scene title or heading pulled from your script; whether the scene takes place during the daytime or at night; whether the scene takes place inside (interior) or outside (exterior); and any particularly important details, such as props that are needed.
Factor in any company moves that might occur during your shoot day. A company move is a filmmaking term referring to anytime your full cast and crew need to move to a new location. Research how long it will take to break down your set and your gear, as well as travel time. If you are traveling at a particularly busy time of day, anticipate any potential traffic.
Whether you are working on a union or nonunion production, you need to factor in meal breaks for your cast, crew, and clients. Follow the standard union rules even if you are working on a small nonunion shoot — give your crew a full meal break around six hours after your crew call time. A well fed crew is a happy crew.
Include a list of contacts for your crew. Provide their full name, role/department on set, and phone number. Think about who will be seeing your call sheet. Perhaps you want to skip including your talent’s contact information and that of your client. Consider listing each person’s call time along with their contact information and roles on set. This will help you keep track of who needs to be where and when they need to be there.
If you are working on a large-scale production, consider breaking down your crew into their corresponding departments, such as grips, props, and so on. This is just another way of helping everyone understand what needs to happen on set and who will be there to make it all come together.
Consider including an advanced schedule for the next day of production. This will be a snapshot of what your cast, crew, and client can expect for the following day. Remember that this might change based on how the current production day goes, but it is a professional courtesy to provide an advanced schedule. Plus, it shows what a thoughtful production professional you really are.
Double-check your information
This is the final critical step in creating a stellar call sheet. Double-check each piece of information that you included. One tiny mistake could lead to massive problems and delays on set.
Share the call sheet
Now that you have created your call sheet, it is time to send it out! Email your call sheet out to your cast, crew, and clients the night before your shoot — this provides your contacts a chance to review the details of your upcoming shoot and plan accordingly.
Having a deep knowledge of what exactly a call sheet is and how to make one is a critical skill to add to your production toolbox. Happy shooting!