This is the best piece of filmmaking advice you’ll ever hear: communication is key. It keeps everyone in the crew informed about changes and the day to day plans. The easiest way to find that information is on the Call Sheet, but first, you have to make it. The Call Sheet will pull information from all the other pieces of paperwork in this series.

What is a Call Sheet?

The Call Sheet is the go-to place for information on the day’s shoot. It has the time of when you need to be there, the filming location, weather, the scenes being filmed, the actors needed, and much more.

Why is the Call Sheet important?

COMMUNICATION! Send out a Call Sheet, and everyone knows what’s happening tomorrow.

Who is involved with a Call Sheet?

The 2nd assistant director creates the Call Sheet every day for the next.

Everyone will get it.

DO NOT go to sleep before the Call Sheet arrives. Just don’t. I know some days will get long, and all you’ll want to do is fall into bed and head off to dreamland. What’s the call time? Is it early? Can you sleep until noon? Will tomorrow be a long day? Short? Know when your alarm needs to go off so you can get all the sleep you need and want.

What is included in a Call Sheet?

Everything. All information the general crew needs to know about the day of filming. There are a wide array of formats you can use and templates you can find on the internet.

The ideal Call Sheet is one page, front and back. Space is precious, so there are a number of tricks you can use to get all the information in without taking up too much space on the page.

For your average independent film or student short film, you can go with a more simple form of the Call Sheet. This is the format I like to use. Here is a template in PDF and Word document.

Like with the other articles in this series, I’m going to explain the basic formatting and the information each area contains. The Call Sheet has a lot of information included so I’m going to break it down into areas.

Header

The header is not in the header section of the document, but it’s the best way to describe the section.

At the top, you put in the production company information if there is one. Below that, there’s the director, writer, producer, and first assistant director. Just put their names, no contact details.

In the next column, there’s the film title. Below that you put in the “Day x of y” line. For “x” look at your Shooting Schedule (yep, you’re using all that other paperwork here). The shooting day is which day on your shooting schedule? “Y” is the total number of days in your shoot. If today is the first day of a ten-day shoot, it would read “Day 1 of 10”.

Below that, put in the day and the date. Ex. Monday, 15 May 2018 or Monday, May 15, 2018.

The Crew Call time is the time you need the crew ready to go, not arriving, not leaving their homes, but at base camp either ready to start setting up or ready to load the gear into the vehicles.

Company Move should be the same as on your Transportation Schedule. If you’re not moving locations, you don’t need this bit.

Shooting Call is the time you want to be rolling the cameras for your first shot. While you may not follow this, if you don’t have a Shooting Call, you won’t get to your first shot until midday. Set the expectation and goal. It helps keep you on time and makes sure you get everything done.

An important thing to keep in mind with times, if you’ve decided to use 24-hour time or 12-hour time, that’s great. Keep it the same through your entire shoot. If people get used to 24-hour time and suddenly you’re putting 6:00 pm, you might end up with some confusion. Is it your fault they misread the Call Sheet? No, but it helps to minimize any potential issues. Remember it’s all about clear communication.

Column three: all the locations you have today, list them here, address, apartment number, anything that will be needed for the crew to arrive at the correct place. Number them, for later on the Call Sheet. If you’re filming on multiple sound stages, number the sound stages in the locations.

Basecamp is the address of your base of operations. If you’re a film school student, it’ll be the address of your school. This could also be your production office. Basecamp is not likely to be the same place as your set.

Footer

The footer is actually in the footer bar, so it appears of all the pages. Here you list your first and second assistant director and their contact number.

For student films, there may not be a second assistant director. In this case, determine a second contact person for the set. List their position, name and phone number. Ideally, it’s a student producer or even crafty. Best to never have it be the director.

Weather and Health

Next, you have a section about the weather. This is important so various departments can prepare for the day. It will also help the crew wear proper clothing. If the shoot is outside on a hot, sunny day, a heavy coat and a sweater probably aren’t the best to wear. Also, specify the high and the low.

Sunrise and sunset are important because the light changes throughout the day. If you’re racing the light, it’s best to know the exact time you’ll lose it.

Always put down the nearest hospital, even if you have an on-set medic. Also, make sure it’s open when your filming. There are a number of day clinics that say hospital in the title, but if you have an issue on your night shoot, you’re out of luck with them.

Scene Information

Once again, take a look at your Shooting Schedule. List the scenes you plan to film on the day, in the order you plan to film them. The scene number, set location, and scene description will correspond with the Breakdown and Shooting Schedule.

Remember those numbers you assigned the cast on the roster? Here is where they come in. You’ll give the actors more information later in the Call Sheet. In the cast column, you’ll list the cast number of the people you need for each scene. This keeps the section as small as possible.

The column labeled D/N is for day (D) or night (N). If the scene specifies sunrise or sunset put that here as well, since the lighting is very specific. If you’re shooting at one of those times using natural light, those sunrise/sunset times are even more important.

Pages is the number of pages the scene is in eighths.

Location: use those numbers from the header section. Once again, this helps save space.

Actor Information

Here is where you give more information about the actors. Here you put in the number, their character name, and the actor’s name. The number here should be the same as the numbers on the roster and used in the scene section. Only list the people you need for today.

The rest of the table is filled with times. Keep the standard. If you’ve been using 24-hour time, keep using it. Keep in mind, these times may change depending on how your set is running. If anything changes, keep the actors and other necessary people informed.

P/U means pick-up. If the actor is being picked up by one of your drivers, this is the time the actor should be getting into the vehicle. If they are getting to the location on their own, make a note like “Meet at loc” or something similar. This tells both actors and transportation department what is expected.

Arrive at location is the time the actor should be arriving at the set, whether by their own means or with the driver.

Blocking is the time when the actors go through the scenes with the director. Wardrobe is the time the actors are due to get into costume. Hair and make-up is the time the actor should report to the hair and make-up artist. If this is two different people, you may consider separating them.

On set means the actors are arriving on location, so everything should be ready to roll by then.

Craft Services

Next is the Craft Service information section. Here you list the number of people on location for the day. Cast includes named characters. Crew is the people in your various departments, including drivers if they’re staying on set. Extras are the background actors, those that are just around for the day, who don’t have named characters, basically anyone not on your numbered cast list. Others are the miscellaneous people like parents of the child actors or visitors you know will be there. Then, give the total.

The next line specifies what meals will be provided on set. Change this for the day. Everyone wants to know this. Do they need to eat before they get to set? Put down an estimated time for meals. Keep in mind it’s an estimate, so meals may not happen at those exact times.

Additional Information

This section gives information to different departments. For art department, props, costumes, hair, and make-up refer to the information from the script breakdowns.

For camera, grip, and sound departments look at the special equipment section of the breakdowns. If there are any special shots planned, like dolly, handheld, drone or similar, put that down to make sure all the necessary gear gets to set. If the shots require special lighting, mark that down as well.

Location notes include anything about the location the crew needs to know. Anything that could cause injury at the location, put it down.

In medical aid, is there a medic on set? Is there a first aid kit?

In other equipment, list any special effects equipment or other things that don’t fit anywhere else.

Everything that needs to get to set should be listed in this section in as few words as possible.

Transportation

The transportation section should correspond to the transportation schedule. All cast should be listed, with the time they are expected on location. In the P/U (pick-up) Time and Location columns, list the correct information. If they are meeting on set, note that information.

Background or extras are generally listed as a group. If there are multiple vehicles, you may want to add a column that specifies the vehicle if you know it.

That’s it, that’s the information you need to put on the Call Sheet. Try to make it fit on two pages for printing. If you’re sending digitally, it’s not as important to fit on two pages.

Congratulations! Your pre-production paperwork is done. Now get out there and shoot your film, you tenacious creative.

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  • Connor Sassmannshausen is a screenwriter, video producer, and social media organizer with the Initiative Production Company. She loves watching movies, nerdy t-shirts, travelling and taking broken things apart (but not necessarily putting them back together).

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