If you haven’t worked in production before, you may not be familiar with the term “call sheet.” As you’ll quickly see, your call sheet is your most important asset to help production day run smoothly. Keep reading for more about what a call sheet is and how to use it effectively.
What is a call sheet?
A call sheet is a document that outlines everything that’s going to happen on production day. If you’re filming across multiple days, you’ll likely have a separate call sheet to refer to for each of the days. On your call sheet, you’ll find detailed information about which scenes are being shot at what time, who needs to be present for each scene, when there are breaks in the schedule (like for lunch), and when the day is expected to wrap up.
If you’re the client on set and you’re not running the show, the call sheet is useful to tell you when and where to show up and to keep track of progress throughout the day. If, on the other hand, you’re part of the crew, the call sheet will be absolutely essential to every step of your day.
Here’s an example of what your call sheet might look like:
Why do I need a call sheet?
Call sheets exist to make production day more organized and to keep everyone on the same page about what’s happening when. Without a call sheet, you may not have all the detail you need about which order scenes will be shot in throughout the day. If you’re part of the cast or crew, you also wouldn’t know when you’re expected to be present for your scenes and when you’re not.
Think of a call sheet like a schedule that happens to have a lot of extra information, like set up arrangements and breakdowns of each shot. You’d never want to show up to production day without a schedule, would you?
How should I use my call sheet?
The most important piece of information is your call time. There will be a general call time (often at the top of the call sheet) that refers to the time the crew will arrive to start setting up for the day. If you’re not part of the crew, your call time may be different, so find the section (often at the bottom) where everyone’s individual call times are listed and look for yours. Your call sheet will also have the address of the location where you’re shooting and information about where to park.
Throughout the day, you can reference the call sheet to keep track of what scenes are being shot and how much of the shoot is left. It’s a great way to follow along with progress. If you need to step away from set at all, it’s also a great tool to let you know what will be going on while you’re gone and when you’ll be needed again.
Ultimately, call sheets are one of the resources that help a project run smoothly. There are hundreds of tiny details and choices that go into a successful (and on-time) production day, and a call sheet is the document that everyone knows to reference to make sure the day goes according to plan. If you’re a Lemonlight client, we’ll always share the call sheet before shoot day, but if you’ve never used one for your DIY productions, we highly recommend it. Try it out and let us know what you think!