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Why You Need Call Sheets

by Celtx

Why are call sheets important?

Call sheets are important because they provide a daily game plan for for your cast and crew. A call sheet is a blueprint for a given shooting day: the who, what, when, and where. Their importance cannot be understated: without call sheets, film productions would simply not function.

The easiest way to make call sheets is in Celtx. If you’re not (yet) a subscriber, the next easiest way is our free call sheet template. Tinker around with it and see what you think.


The Purpose of Call Sheets

Call sheets’ purpose is to ensure that everyone is where they need to be at the right time. To accomplish this, they include not only timings for cast and crew, but also: 

  • the daily shooting schedule
  • information covering shooting locations 
  • important contact information for key personnel
  • travel schedules, radio frequencies, and more!

7 Reasons You Need a Call Sheet

1. They Take Away Excuses

Imagine a film set where a bunch of people turn up late. One of the cameramen tried the wrong gate to the site and got held up by security. The gaffer didn’t plan for snow and got stuck in traffic. An actor confused their pickup time with their call time. All honest mistakes that could happen to anyone, right?

Not if the call sheet went out. As long as a call sheet contains all the information needed to get to the right place at the right time, there are no excuses.

2. They Prevent Confusion in Production Leadership

Various departments aren’t always on the same page. Literally. There are times when people are working from entirely different sections of entirely different versions of the script. Call sheets might not prevent conflicts, but they at least start the conflicts a day or two in advance, letting the leadership work out discrepancies in vision before shooting actually starts.

3. Call Sheets Make Everyone Feel More Professional

If you want your people to act as if they’re professionals, you need to treat them like professionals. And professionals, working on major productions, always get call sheets.

Everyone appreciates being treated like a pro, but no-one more than your lead actors. Call sheets put the lead actors’ names in a place of honor, creating a daily affirmation that you respect and value them.

4. Call Sheets Make More Complicated Shoots Possible

Inexperienced directors sometimes balk at fitting two or more locations into a shooting day. It just feels too complicated; too many things can go wrong. With ironclad call sheets that ensure everyone shows up at the right place and time, day after day, you’ll feel more confident in scheduling more complicated days.

5. Call Sheets Save Lives

A proper call sheet includes the location of the nearest hospital, which can speed up decision-making in a crisis, and possibly even save lives.

6. Call Sheets Keep Unions Happy

Unions mandate that film shoots provide scheduled lunch breaks and take all possible precautions to ensure health and safety. A call sheet demonstrates that you take these requirements seriously.

7. Call Sheets are a Branding Opportunity

Cast and crew shuffle between a lot of different productions, and it’s easy for them to forget specific production companies. A call sheet is an opportunity to stand out. You can highlight your logo and communicate your brand through the design, making people more likely to remember you.


Call Sheets Explained

The sheer amount of info to put on a call sheet can be overwhelming. Check out our article on what goes on a call sheet for an explanation of everything you need.

How to Use a Call Sheet

Call sheets are organized so that general information that is applicable to everyone is near the top, while information for specific cast members is near the middle. This convention makes it easier for everyone to find the information they need quickly.

What is Call Time?

Call time is the time that a person has to be ready to work. For the crew, that means being on set, punched in, and geared up. For the cast, it means being in costume and makeup, warmed up, hydrated, and ready to step in front of a camera.

The amount of prep an actor needs varies. To help them out, call sheets usually include additional time markers, such as:

  • Pick-up: if an actor is being driven to the set, this is the time they need to be ready to get in the car.
  • Makeup: the time actors need to be at the makeup station.
  • Costume: the time actors should begin getting in costume.

Famous Call Sheet Examples

Call sheets are sensitive information that can be used as strategic intel by competitors. Worse, it can give your audience spoilers! They are kept under tight scrutiny, which means, naturally, that leaks happen all the time.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

One of the most high-profile Marvel leaks was the call sheet for Spider-Man: Homecoming, which confirmed that Zendaya was playing Mary Jane and revealed the movie’s third villain.

Lost

Lost was a famously mysterious show that drew tons of fan speculation. As such, it was a tempting target for leak publishers. In a particularly major leak, a call sheet revealed most of the plot of the Season 2 finale.

Cloverfield

J.J. Abrams’ breakout movie was spoiled by the leak of a call sheet for the grim final scene.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones was notable for being a high-profile show where not one call sheet ever leaked. The GoT team accomplished this by printing scene details in a changing code that only some cast and crew were taught how to decipher.


Creating a Call Sheet

Celtx can automatically populate call sheets based on your stripboard, cast list, and production details. It also has robust customization options so you can take full advantage of call sheets’ branding opportunity. Do yourself a favour and try it out!

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