How to Understand a Video Production Call Sheet

The most important document that you will find on a set is the call sheet. Let’s learn what it is, why it is important, what it does, and most importantly, how to understand it.

What is a call sheet and why is it important?

This document contains the schedule and pertinent details for a video production shoot. It helps with the organization and communication on set. It is very important because it helps with the coordination of events, establishes expectations for the cast and crew, and provides them information on how and when to accomplish the tasks.

Who is in Charge of Making it?

Typically, the producer or 1st ad (assistant director) makes the call sheet. These two positions are responsible for keeping the schedule on time and ensuring the content that is needed is shot that day. The 1st AD and Producer do a lot of pre-production work in order to help the shoot run as smoothly as possible. With all of this pre-work, they are well equipped with the knowledge and answers on how to most effectively structure the day. They place all the pertinent details on the call sheet to help the cast and crew understand where to be and what is happening.

The producer or 1st ad typically emails it out and only one version is sent out after they are confident nothing else will change. Sets have a lot of moving parts that can change up until the last moment. While the producer could send out multiple call sheets when details are changed, this can be confusing for the crew as to which call sheet to follow. If there is only one sent out, they know they have the right information.

What is on a Call Sheet?

A basic call sheet will have the following details:

  • Title of the shoot
  • Company name
  • Detailed schedule
  • Location(s)/address(es)
  • Cast and crew information (name, position, and contact information)
  • Weather forecast
  • Address for the closest hospital to the set

There are many other useful subjects to include on this document. This includes parking instructions, important points of contact (POC), hazard warnings (if there were lots of pot guts burrowing holes, the crew better be informed to watch where they walk so they don’t trip), and walkie talkie channels. It may be helpful to leave a “notes” section for any other pertinent details.

An example of a basic call sheet

Tips and Tricks for an Efficient Call Sheet

While a call sheet may seem very complicated, it doesn’t have to be. The easier and simpler to read, the better understood it will be. Here are some tips and tricks to use when creating your own call sheets.

  • Place on the most essential and pertinent details on it.
  • It is better to be running ahead of schedule than behind. Schedule extra time for tasks.
  • Each production day requires a new and different call sheet.
  • It is best to send the call sheet 2 days to 24 hours before the shoot.
  • While you want to put many essential details, you don’t want to overload the document either. Some details, such as where the closest bathrooms are, can be figured out the day of.
  • Research travel times between locations, parking details, or food near the sets. These may be important details (depending on set) for the day of work ahead.

How to Understand a Video Production Call Sheet

Here are the most important aspects to understand when reading a call sheet.

  1. Call Time

    The call time is located in the top center of the call sheet. It is in a larger text size than the rest of the information. This time refers to the earliest time scheduled for set and when most of the cast will show up to prepare for the shoot. A separate call time is given to actors that will show up later – actors may even get their own call sheets.

  2. Address(es)

    The address for the set(s), parking, and other important locations are typically located in boxes right below or next to the call time. If it is a difficult address to locate, the sheet may provide extra details on how to find the location.

  3. Schedule

    The schedule for the set day will be in the middle section of the call sheet. It will tel you the time, name of the location, and other pertinent detail related to the flow of the day.

  4. Crew List

    The crew list will be below the schedule and includes the position, name, and contact information for each person involved.

  5. Date and Day

    The date of the shoot and the number of days for the shoot for example day 3 of 5 will be located in the top right.

  6. Weather

    The weather will be located right underneath the date and day in the top right corner. The weather forcast is important to include because it lets the cast and crew know how to adjust lighting, what type of clothing to wear, as well as if there are hazardous conditions to be aware of such as lightning.

Call sheets are pretty straightforward, but are a crucial and necessary part of any successful set.

For more information on the type of work BW Productions does click HERE.