If one works in production, knowing what a call sheet is an imperative.
Without this document production will not function properly. It navigates the set, and includes information about a shooting location, cast & crew call times, and a preliminary shooting schedule for a day.
Call Sheet as a Blueprint
Think of a call sheet as a blueprint to how a film set is going to work. Without it, none of the cast and crew will be able to prepare themselves for a particular shooting day.
Prepared by an assistant director, the call sheet is usually sent out to cast and crew a night before the shoot. Most importantly, this document includes date and day of the shoot, with the list of cast and crew needed for the shoot, along with their relevant call times.
Call time is set to indicate when work should begin on set. Usually, most of the crew has the same call time, but based on department it can vary. This is one of the key values of the call sheet. Cast’s call time is usually one to two hours later than the general call time. This is because the crew needs longer time to prepare the location than the time the cast needs to get ready for set.
Moreover, shooting schedules with the outline of scenes should be present on every call sheet. This scene breakdown must include basic slog-line of the scenes, cast members needed for it, a brief description, and an estimated shooting time. This will give an approximate understanding to the crew of how the shooting day will go and will set proper expectations.
In addition, call sheets contain proposed times for a lunch break. Sometimes, it also includes a contact information of the caterer.
Vital Information on the Call Sheet
Every call sheet must also include important points of contact information. Usually the names included are the names of director, line producer, first assistant director, and production manager. This will allow the cast and crew to contact an appropriate person in case of any inquiries.
There are some other very important sections that each call sheet should include.
One of the Assistant Director’s central responsibilities on set is to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy. That is why, in case of casualties, every call sheet should include a subsection with the address and contact info of a nearest hospital. In that way, if some sort of adversary happens on set, the assistant director will be able to act quickly.
Furthermore, the call sheet must include the weather forecast with specific sunrise/sunset times, outside temperature, and wind. Since weather conditions can significantly impact the production, it is vital to give crew heads up on what they should expect from the shooting day.
Although all call sheets contain more or less the same information, the layout can vary from one AD to an other or from one production to another.
Call sheets can be automatically created from scheduling software such as Movie Magic Scheduling. But a lot of ADs will be using a customized Word template that they created. They will manually update the daily call sheet by pulling out the information from the schedule. A kind of final check-list before shooting a scene.
Overall, having an accurately prepared call sheet is an essential element of an effective set. The call sheet aids to set up clear working expectations for cast and crew, and helps to keep to keep the entire production organized.