As a producer, you may not be the person tapped to make a call sheet… But as a producer, you should know how to. Though, if you’re reading this, you might very well be the person tasked to create one. Knowing how to make a call sheet offers you the chance to better understand what’s being expected from each crew member from day to day.
If your production begins to fall behind schedule, it’s possible that the call sheet may have something to do with it. Something as minor as not giving correct parking instructions – a key detail on any production call sheet – can quickly derail a project.
We’re going to break down all things production call sheets, including what they are, what’s on them, where to get them, and even some common mistakes to avoid.
So let’s dive in!
A call sheet is a daily production document that clearly outlines what both cast and crew need to know for that day of shooting.
Typically, it’s written up by the 1st AD or someone in the AD department if it’s a larger production and sent out each night with information for the following day’s shoot. Often on smaller shoots, or even photoshoots, the production coordinator or office PA will be tasked with creating the call sheet. It really depends on the production.
Wrapbook knows you have a million other things to think about so having access to one of the most essential production documents seemed like a no-brainer. You can customize this free call sheet template however you see fit for any and all productions.
Now let’s get into it.
As any call sheet template will quickly show you, it’s an information-intensive document. So while not exactly the most glamorous part of a production, knowing how to make a call sheet is fundamental to making sure each day goes off without a hitch.
We’ll get into the different types of call sheets like movie call sheets, TV call sheets, photoshoot call sheets, and more in just a bit, but the following details the major items you will always have on them regardless of the type of production.
To guide us through the process, we’re using a call sheet example that we’ve created. You can download it now to follow along.
People are working on different projects all of the time. Ensure the name of your project is at the top. Seems obvious but it’s so obvious, people might forget.
Most call sheet templates will have a spot for the production title front and center just to make sure everyone knows exactly what project they’re supposed to be showing up for.
The details of where contact information falls on the sheet may vary from one call sheet template to the next, but generally the contact information for the key figures who are part of a shoot could be right by their logo (if applicable) or separated from the rest of the cast and crew. You will know the key people to reach out to as they will be in a different section from the list of cast and crew contact and call times.
Who would those key figures be? Depends on the production. But on a call sheet for film – it might have the executive producer(s), but definitely the on-set producer(s), line producer, director, and 1st AD. For photoshoots, you might see a producer’s name with a production coordinator or manager. Additionally, you’ll likely see a couple contacts under the agency (if applicable), and client logo.
What is a call sheet? Well, the name itself alludes to the most important part of it – calling the people involved to set!
Typically, film call sheet templates offer at least two spots for the crew call time – a general crew call and then individual call times, if different (usually the case for cast).
The crew will generally be asked to show up at least an hour prior to actual filming, as it takes more time than you think to ready those cameras, lighting equipment, and sound equipment. The crew call can vary, though, from department to department. Which is why this is dubbed “general crew call.”
On this film call sheet example, the general crew call is up at the top, with specific crew call times below. We’ll get to that in the next section.
Every cast member who is required on set for a particular day of production will be listed on that day’s call sheet. On this call sheet film example, that list falls in the center of the document.
In addition to the cast members’ names will be their character names, their individual call times, their individual call times to set, and where they should report upon arriving to set. It’s common for a call sheet to have a cast report for hair and makeup at their individual call time.
While the crew absolutely rely on call sheets to know exactly when to show up for any given production, call sheets for actors are equally important for the same reason.
Certain crew members will have to arrive earlier or later than the general crew call.
That will be designated next to their individual names. For instance, if the general crew call is 7:30 am, the director may not have to show up until 8:00 am, while the production assistants may be there promptly at general crew call, and a few key lighting crew members might have a call that’s even earlier to allow time for their complicated setup.
To a large degree, the question of what is a call sheet can be answered simply by “it’s a schedule.” A schedule of every single scene that will be filmed that day. On this call sheet film example, that schedule is listed just above the section for the cast information.
A brief description of each scene is given along with the coordinating scene number from the film script, the individual cast members needed for each scene, a notation of whether that scene is meant to be day or night (D/N), and the length of the scene according to the script.
Last but not least, we have all those other crucial details on a call sheet template that cast and crew need to know each day. Like…
A multi-million feature film to a one-day web series will likely require different call sheets. Most of the time, the differences lie in the details needed from each individual production type.
For example, a photoshoot call sheet will likely have a less involved shooting schedule than a project with a ton of scenes. But a photoshoot call sheet may also require more mindfulness around your client. Is their logo and name the biggest on the call sheet? Because it should be. And so while the general idea of a call sheet is the same---to get people to set --- there are particular considerations that come with each type.
How to make a call sheet for film was largely covered by most of the content above. But it’s important to keep in mind that if the scope of your project is large, you might want some help from a call sheet generator or call sheet software. We’ll get to those resources in just a minute.
Another option is just to ask someone. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to how to make a call sheet for film. Just reach out to a colleague and they likely will have a movie call sheet on hand that they’d be willing to share.
The main components will remain the same for most TV show call sheets. But how to make a call sheet for TV does differ ever so slightly from that of a movie call sheet.
Basically, don’t forget to have all pertinent information relating to the production title when filling out a TV show call sheet. So besides the title itself, you’ll need to add the season and episode number.
Outside of that, the information for TV call sheets is much the same with sections for schedule, cast list, crew call, and so on.
Do not underestimate the need for a call sheet when filming a music video. Even if you’re going bare bones with a single location and skeleton crew, they need to know what’s going on. Everything stays the same as far as production title, call times, etc. But just like photoshoots or commercial productions, ensure your client (the band, the label, etc.) is shown off with a bigger logo or font, above your production company’s name.
While photoshoot call sheets may not have a section for the different scenes to be shot, they will have a section for different setups and even company moves. Even if you’re shooting in a single location for the entire day, you might be calling upon various talent at different times or having the same talent made up in different ways. You may also have a ton of other considerations depending on the shoot. As mentioned above, the client’s name or logo should be the biggest on the call sheet---at the end of the day, you’re aiming to please. Start off right and make it about them. At least on paper ;)
What if it’s a car commercial? You have your photographer there with a DP, shooting stills and video. The drivers need to be on the call sheet, and the prep personnel who are prepping the cars, might also be on the call sheet. On top of this, all of the logistics will be reflected on the call sheet for the person (likely a PA), picking up the client and bringing them to set. That PA’s call time might be different and their location might be the client’s hotel.
How to make a call sheet is as much about what not to do as it is what you should do.
Try to avoid some of these common pitfalls when crafting a call sheet.
Oof. Imagine misspelling the name of your star. Or worse, listing the wrong crew call time. You can now imagine just how devastating even the most minor error on your production call sheet can be. Hence, proofread!
As we mentioned, days can quickly blend into weeks that blend into months on set. That makes it very easy to forget to change the location or weather if it’s been the same for several days in a row, but you must! Otherwise, you’ll probably soon find out that the one time you didn’t bother to double check was exactly the time you needed to. And trust me - people will tell you.
Maybe your call sheet went out with the wrong crew call or an old location listed. Sending out a revised one might be necessary in such a case, but be prepared for people to call, text, email, and skywrite you about it.
People easily get confused. They know the process is one photoshoot, movie or TV show call sheet a day. So when you give them more than that, mayhem can ensue. How to avoid it?
Use tips #1 and #2. And hold off until later in the day to send out your call sheet so that any unforeseen changes like a legitimate new crew call or other updated detail can be added before it is emailed to everyone.
We’re not talking about just saving your call sheet to your desktop. We mean grabbing that USB drive to save it or sending it to yourself via email to ensure that if your computer suffers some horrible fate that you still have a copy on hand somewhere. If you use a specific call sheet software, or Wrapbook, you can safely store your call sheet to avoid this. Because, let's be real...no one wants this to happen, but it can, and so you should be prepared for it.
Pro tip: You should never have to pay for a call sheet template. Not only are there several call sheet software options out there, but also you can make your own if you’re really in a pitch.
There are a million options when it comes to finding a program for your call sheet needs. Intuitive software allows you to just plug in the info specific to your production with ease.
If your comfort zone resides with interfaces you already know, we got you. How to make a call sheet in Excel is beyond simple because there’s a call sheet template ready to go for you! Our template is also available as a Google doc.
Oh hey, did we mention that Wrapbook can also help with your call sheet needs? Couple things here.
If you’re already using Wrapbook for your payroll needs, you can export your cast and crew contact info from Wrapbook into an excel sheet. You can create your call sheet from there or drop it into our template.
You can also save any call sheet you have to our platform and send it out to cast and crew with the click of a button. Easy peasy.
Whether you’re in charge of making a call sheet or not, knowing what’s supposed to be on it matters to the success of your shoot.
What we’ve laid out is meant to make an otherwise tedious process, a little more streamlined so that you can focus on producing. So if you haven’t already, download our call sheet template. And if you’re already a Wrapbook user, learn how to export your cast and crews’ info out of the software and into either the call sheet of your choice, or even into other software, like Endcrawl, to help you create your ending credits.
At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice. You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.