How to Build a Call Sheet

Written on 
September 3, 2021

Most who work in production know the essentiality of a good call sheet for the success of a shot. Put simply, it is the daily briefing sent to cast and crew outlining location, timings, schedule, key logistics and even weather forecast. It is the cornerstone of your production and cultivates a smooth-running shoot.

Why is it important?

Why put together a call sheet, as opposed to sending a few quick texts and scribbling the postcode on a piece of paper for distribution via WhatsApp? As a process, it both holds the producer of the call sheet accountable to address all of the key details required, and serves as a complete daily briefing for all cast and crew.

Usually put together by the producer/project lead, it should become a habitual process of reflection and preparation. Making everything as clear as possible for the recipients, it prevents early morning phone calls from sorrowful cameramen in the wrong location, or a key crew member turning up hours late.

How to build a call sheet

Most good call sheets look pretty much the same, and the basic bones remain largely unchanging. What sets a great one apart from the rest is preparing for the unexpected and anticipating obstacles before they have the chance to hinder production.

Here’s an example of a model call sheet from Atellio:

Check our our Summer 2021 Callsheet

The basic components:

Call time for set - date and time

Obvious but important! Always keep the date for filing purposes, make call time clear.

Main contact

This centralizes processes by ensuring there is a dedicated point of contact for all questions, queries and everything in between.

Title

Again important for taxonomy purposes when many people may be making multiple call sheets per day within the same organization. Keep everything crystal clear with no room for mix-ups.

Weather

Good to ensure the crew have raincoats to hand, but also that any provisions required to weather-proof and protect equipment are on-site too.

Schedule

The order of events and breakdown of which shots are happening at specific times, when mealtimes are scheduled and when you may be moving to the next location.

Locations

It is likely different crew members will be required to be in different places at different times, so it is important to spell this out to prevent confusion. Provide as much information as possible - postcodes, point of contact for each location, pre-populated maps are always useful.

Crew / Talent

Names, roles and contact details. Where talent are represented by an agency, their contact details should be included instead. This provides transparency across the team by ensuring everyone knows who they will be working with, and in what capacity.

Additional notes

For those important nuggets of information that just don’t slot in anywhere else (‘We have been told we are not allowed to feed the local horses’/ ‘free parking is located at the bottom of the road’).

Attachments

Any key documents that you’ll need to hand can go here, easily accessible and referenceable.

Our top tips for success: be specific, take a moment to double-check everything, and always think ‘what else?’.

Call sheets are an indispensable piece of admin - unifying everyone on timings, expectations, schedule and more. They prevent confusion and miscommunication to ensure everyone walks onto set 100% aligned on the goals for the day, and what will happen when.

Overall you will be able to achieve more in less time.

It is very important to get right, and not to leave anything out. But that doesn’t mean it has to take a lot of time to build - call sheet generators take the stress out trying to ensure you don’t forget anything important and automate much of the construction.

Creative Resource Planning software like Atellio turns around complete call sheets quickly. Integrating all areas of the shoot ecosystem, you can pull in the required talent (plus their key contact details) at the touch of a button, and use pre-populated prompts to ensure you have the logistics nailed.

You can then submit to all relative parties, with the call sheet viewable on any electronic device (phone, laptop, tablet etc.).

Generating call sheets is just one of the ways Atellio automates admin to support a smooth and successful production process. To find out more, please contact me at nick@atellio.com.

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