Lucky for you, we’ve made a free call sheet template that sets out exactly what information you need to include on your call sheet, down to the smallest details. Ready to head to film production heaven?
Production call sheets contain everything you need to know when you’re shooting. Like call times, crew calls, crew members, phone numbers, and a bajillion other things. Ready to learn more? Let’s take it from the top.
At the top of your call sheet, you’ll want to include contact information (usually phone numbers) for the most important people on the shoot. This is different at every shoot, but it usually includes the First Assistant Director (1st AD), Second Assistant Director (2nd AD), and Unit Production Manager (UPM).
Your call sheet should include the name of your production (just in case people have forgotten). If you’re feeling snazzy, you could include the project’s logo, or some other iconography to make it pop. And if you’re working on a TV show with episodes, make sure to include the episode number and title, too.
Next, you should put the general call time – the time that the bulk of your crew needs to be on set. However, most film call sheets will include unique call times. That’s because certain departments might be needed early to set something up. Or some actors aren’t needed until later in the day. (Brad Pitt hates to be denied his beauty sleep.)
Lastly, you might want to include special announcements for the day. These might include parking information, radio channels for walkie talkies, and other tidbits.
Make sure to include the date near the top. Don’t forget the DOOD, too. It’s surfer speak for ‘day out of days’, e.g. Day 3 of 13.
In terms of weather information, you should include the high and low temperatures for the day, precipitation information, plus sunrise and sunset times. It’ll help people know whether to pack an umbrella or sunscreen.
If your call sheet’s for a feature film, you might want to bulk it out with some additional information. Feature film call sheets often include a mini schedule for the day with the big events: shooting call, meal breaks, and estimated wrap time.
It’s no good having the weather forecast if you don’t know where you’re going. Under set location, you might want to include the address of where the crew will be based, rather than the actual shooting location. If you have multiple locations, label each one with a number: Location 1, Location 2, etc.
Depending on the size of your shoot, you’re going to have people rolling up in all kinds of vehicles – cars, trucks, trailers, those annoying electric scooters. Things will go a lot more smoothly on the day of the shoot if everyone knows where they’re supposed to park, whether it’s a car park or an alternative arrangement.
If you’re in the video production big leagues, then you’ll need to devote a bit more thought to handling the streams of trucks and trailers. If you’re shooting in a built-up area, you might need to liaise with the city to close streets close to your location so that you get your gear in without any hiccups.
Hopefully, you won’t need this information. But it’s better to be over-prepared in case things go Pete Tong on shoot day. It’s especially important to know the nearest hospital if your film set’s in a remote location with no phone service, like up a mountain.
Next, you need to list the scenes you’re shooting on the day, which will be dictated by your shooting schedule. At minimum, this should include the scene numbers, set, a list of cast members in each scene, and a short description. More advanced schedules will feature extra information, like load-in times, meal breaks, company moves, and more details about each scene.
You should clearly list your cast members on the front page of the daily call sheet. Other helpful information to include: each cast member’s cast ID and character name, workday status, and different call times – pickup time, when to be on location, makeup time, etc.
We’re not saying all actors are divas but they often need the most prodding to arrive at the right place at the right time. It’s a smart idea to add a buffer to actors’ call times to make it a little easier for them to arrive promptly. You should also think about how much time they need for hair and makeup, and how many hair and makeup chairs you’ll have available to get everyone looking spiffy.
Most people group their crew list by department, including each crew member’s name, title, and call time. It’s important to get your departments and crew positions in the right order. Not only is it mandatory for some unions, but some crew members can get a little eggy if your hierarchies are off.
Before you go firing your call sheets out to all and sundry, check out our final tips for distributing your call sheet below.
If you’ve got a busy shoot schedule or lots of projects on the go at the same time, then it’s important to have a solid folder system. Create a new folder for each shoot day, and put everything you need for that day inside the folder. The last thing you want is to get muddled up and send your stars the wrong call sheet for the day.
Computers don’t always do what you want them to do. Sometimes they die and things go missing. And you definitely don’t want that to happen mid-shoot, at the expense of your impeccably-crafted call sheets. We recommend backing everything up to the cloud – whether it’s in Google Drive, Dropbox, or another service of your choosing. Just be sure to back up.
In the high-flying, glamorous world of film production, things are constantly shifting around. That’s why it’s vital you only send out your call sheets once everything’s locked in, rather than sending a whole week of them in one go. They’ll soon be out of date, people will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you’ll see the whole shoot breaking down around you. Not ideal.
Like we said, things are constantly shifting around on a film shoot. Especially the weather. Check it a week out. Check it three days out. Check it the day before shooting. Check it first thing on the day of shooting. Make sure you’re ready for whatever’s coming, and that you’ve got the latest forecast on your call sheet.
Never send your call sheet in its native format, like a .xls file or as a link to the live Google Sheet. Firstly, you don’t want anyone editing it and sending around a different version. Secondly, not everyone will have the correct software to view it – especially if they’re on their phone, which a lot of people are nowadays. Instead, export the call sheet as a PDF file and send that to the crew.
It’s hard to check your own work for mistakes, particularly when it’s a spreadsheet with lots of names, times, and details. But if you want your shoot to go off without a hitch, then you need to do it. Try taking a break from your screen for half an hour, then reading your work over again. Or you can print it out. It’ll give you a little refresher to help you spot those pesky slips.
Before you send your call sheet out to Di Caprio and co., you need to check all the crew chiefs are happy with it. If they are, then you need to get approval from everyone else – 1st AD, UPM, director, other stakeholders (the exact details will depend on your shoot) – before making any final changes and sending it out.
Keeping track of all the different people that need to receive a call sheet is a herculean task. That’s why you need to keep an orderly distro (distribution) list. The easiest method is to make a spreadsheet, with the contacts along the left side of the chart, and the shoot dates along the top. This means you can put a 1 in the box on the days where each person will be on set and a 0 on the days they’ll be absent (and don’t need a call sheet).
Most people don’t like their email address being revealed to a bunch of people. Celebrities have a particular aversion to it. So whenever you’re sending out your call sheet, be sure to BCC all the email addresses. Every time.
Before you go sending out any call sheets, you might need to make some storyboards. And if you do, Boords is here to help. It’s the online storyboarding app for creative professionals. Simplify your pre-production process with storyboards, scripts, and animatics – then gather feedback – all in one place. Creating storyboards has never been simpler.
Looking for more pre-production templates? Check out our free download shot list template.
Thanks to Studiobinder for their helpful post on creating call sheets.