One of the most important elements of a good production is the Call Sheet. Although the call sheet might seem like unnecessary work, this could be the difference between having an organized production, or having crew members who have no idea what’s going on.
Essentially, a call sheet has all the necessary information your cast and crew needs to get through a day on set. While it seems like a simple task to put one together, it takes planning and organization to make an effective call sheet.
After having an extremely successful call sheet on our fifth short film, here’s what we do to put one together.
*NOTE: Scheduling must take place before a call sheet can be created. To see how we schedule for a film, click here. Also, our call sheet is tailored specifically for a short film. However, it can be used for a feature film as well, although more categories may need to be added for a feature shoot.
For details on each section of the call sheet, we have broken it down as follows:
In capital, bold letters, put the title of the film.
There should always be two contact numbers on the call sheet. The primary number and the secondary number. You will want to decide who will have the responsibility of taking all the calls and then list them as the primary contact. We typically give this to the 1st AD.
The secondary contact is used only if the primary contact doesn’t answer. We usually assign this to the producer. Regardless of who your contacts are, they have to know all the details of filming for that day.
A new call sheet should be made for each day of filming. Whether it’s a 2 day shoot or a month long shoot, each day needs it’s own call sheet. For multi day shoots, list what day of filming that call sheet refers to. For example, if the call sheet is for the 3rd day of filming and you are filming for 7 days, it would be Day 3 of 7.
Whether you’re filming indoor or outdoor, it’s good to have the high and low temperature of the day. If you know the high of the day is going to be hot, you will need to prepare ways to keep the set as cool and comfortable as possible. The same logic can be applied if you know the low of the day is going to be cold.
Also in this same category, we have sunrise and sunset. With modern technology, we know the exact time of the suns movements throughout the day. If you’re filming during the golden hour or you need to have all your shots wrapped before sundown, this provides a clear timeline of when you need to be done.
5. BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER
You probably won’t be serving all three meals in the span of one shooting day. But, chances are you will be serving your cast and crew at least one meal. Once you decide what that meal will be, put it on the call sheet along with what time you will be eating. Trust me, your crew will look forward to this.
Notes provide a place for that important piece of information you want everyone to know. Here is an example of what we put in our notes section:
NO VISITORS WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL DUE TO SMALL LOCATION WITH MINIMAL SPACE
7. NEAREST HOSPITAL
While it’s important to keep a safe set, accidents do happen. In the event that someone does need to be taken to the hospital, the address on your call sheet will be the nearest location. Also, familiarize yourself with the directions and how long it will take to get there.
If you’re filming at 3 different locations in 1 day, you will need to list all 3 addresses. In addition to the addresses, give parking instructions. Not all places have enough parking or allow multiple cars to park there. You don’t want your crew members to have their cars towed so prepare them with this information ahead of time.
Set: This is basically the scene header and a sentence long synopsis for what is happening in the scene.
Example: INT. KITCHEN – DAY Family in the kitchen making breakfast
Scene #: Since most films are not shot in chronological order, by having the scene number, you can easily refer to your script and know exactly what scene you’re on. You will need to have a numbered version of your script to do this.
Page: For page, you have two options. You can either put what page of the script your filming or how many 1/8ths of the scene it is. We typically put what page we are filming. However, you can put that the scene is 6/8ths (or however many eights long the scene is). For clarification on how to determine a scenes eights, see this post.
Cast: Each actor will be assigned a number. See the ‘Talent’ section below to learn how to assign the actors a number.
Notes: Any details about the scene goes here. We like to use this space to put the time allowed to film the scene here. We do this so everyone knows the schedule we are on and so our makeup artist knows how much time she has to get the next actor ready.
#: How many actors do you have on set for the day? Let say it’s 5. Put them in order from most scene time to least and assign them a number. The actor will be referred to as their number in the ‘Cast’ section under the schedule.
Cast: Corresponding to the numbers, put the actors name.
Role: This is the character name that the actor is portraying.
Call Time: This one is important because actors typically don’t have the same call time as the crew. Usually they will arrive later and all throughout the day. Each actor needs their own call time. Again, these details need to be figured out during scheduling.
Hair and Make-up, Wardrobe (MU/WD): This is mainly for the hair, makeup and wardrobe artist so they can be prepared for the actors when they arrive. The last thing you want is for your talent to hold up set because you didn’t give them enough time to get ready.
Ready By: Again, this is a time you will decide on so that you can give your actor plenty of time to get ready. If you want your talent ready by 4:00pm and you have their call time at 3:30pm, that means you’re allowing them only 30 minutes to complete hair, make-up and wardrobe. Really take into consideration when scheduling call times. It’s vital to have that planned out perfectly.
Remember, there are many ways to put together a call sheet. Don’t feel confined to do exactly what we do, this is just what works best for us. Overall, decide what’s necessary for you and your sets and go make awesome films!