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How to Create a Film Call Sheet: A Step-by-Step Guide

Back to the Future II - Production Call Sheet

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A call sheet is a document that is used by film and television production crews to keep track of the call times, contact information, and other important details for all of the cast and crew involved in a project. It can be a lifesaver on set, ensuring that everyone knows when they are supposed to be where they need to be. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of creating your own call sheet!

3 ways to create call sheets

Creating a call sheet is absolutely necessary. The last thing you want is an unorganized cast and crew that has no idea what time to arrive on set or even where to go.

So let’s get started. To create a call sheet, there are 3 options:

  • The hard way: you can do it by hand with a pen and paper
  • The less hard way: you can use a word processor or spreadsheet along with a free template
  • The easy way: you can use specialized software such as StudioBinder or Movie Magic Scheduling

Creating a call sheet by hand

If you choose to do it the old-fashioned way, you can start with a printable PDF template, or if you’re really going old school, all you need is a piece of paper and a pen (a ruler would be nice).

No matter what route you choose, there are certain elements that you will need to include in your call sheet. At the top of the page, you will want to list the production name and contact information. This is followed by the day’s date, call time, shooting locations, an overview of the shooting schedule, and a list of the required cast and crew members.

We can use this call sheet from Jaw as an example. This is a pretty minimalist call sheet and offers a good example of what’s possible with just a simple piece of paper.

Jaws production Call Sheet

Although minimalist, we clearly have the production title (PICTURE), the call time (SHOOTING CALL), the date, and the “day of days“. Additionally, we have an overview of the shooting schedule (which is a bit unique because of the singular setting of EXT. Orca at Sea), and below is the cast and crew list with their unique call times.

At the very bottom, we can see that they also included notes on the time of day for high and low tide.

Creating a call sheet with a computer

If you choose to create your call sheet on a computer, you will want to start by downloading one of our free call sheet templates.

Free call sheet template

Using the following template, you can simply fill in all the information that is relevant to your production. Free Call sheet template.

Call sheet example

As with any call sheet, there are certain elements that must be included. We’ll use the information from the Jaws call sheet above to fill out our modern template in Google Docs.

You can view and download the example here: Call Sheet Example

1. Top of page details

Back to the Future II - Production Call Sheet

At the top of the document, working from left to right, we need to input the production information, which includes the production company logo, address, names, and contact info.

In the center column, we’ll add the production title and logo (if one exists). Underneath that, the general crew call time is next, followed by any notes that are important enough to merit placement at the top of the page.

On the right side, we’ll start with the date and the day-out-of-days. That is followed by an overview of the important times for the day, for example, shooting call time, lunch, wrap time, etc. Lastly, we’ll add the daily weather forecast, which generally includes the high and low temperatures, sunrise and sunset, and a one-sentence description such as clear skies or cloudy, etc.

2. Locations

Call Sheet locations

The next section is a table for the locations. In this table, you’ll enter the address of any locations, parking information, and any general notes, as well as the address of the nearest hospital.

3. Shooting Schedule, Talent, and Extras

call sheet shooting schedule

Following the locations, we have tables for the shooting schedule, talent and extras, and stand-ins.

For the shooting schedule, you can enter the information about the planned scenes for that day. Under talent, you will enter all the cast members working (and possibly notes for those that are on hold).

For the extras and stand-ins, you’ll want to note the number of extras needed for any particular group, the name of the character or group, and the call time.

4. Crew List & Special Instructions

call sheet crew list

Next, we have a table for the crew. This can be as granularly detailed as you like, you could literally input each crew member’s name and a specific call time for each person, or you could list call times by department or a combination of the two.

After that, we have a section for special instructions, and this is particularly useful for communicating specific notes by department.

5. Advanced Schedule, Walkie Channels, and Notes

call sheet advanced schedule

Next is the advanced schedule, which mirrors the format of the day’s shooting schedule but lists the scenes that are scheduled for the following day.

Under that is a table for the walkie-talkie channels. This serves as a simple guide for your crew so that they can easily find the right channel for the department they need to communicate with.

Lastly is a section for general notes. This is a catch-all section for any remaining notes that simply do not fit elsewhere in the call sheet.

With data in all categories, your call sheet is now complete! Now, all you need to do is hit save, print, and distribute to your crew.

Creating a call sheet the easy way – specialized software

Our pick for the best option available is StudioBinder, both for its affordability and the features it offers.

With StudioBinder, you can create call sheets in minutes with their drag-and-drop interface. You can also easily add, remove, or change call times for your individual cast and crew, as well as add any additional information that might be useful, such as maps, weather, or notes.

Additionally, you can export your call sheet to PDF or share it directly with your cast and crew via email or text. It’s truly the modern solution to call sheets.

They have a wealth of information on how to use the software on their site, so there’s no need for us to do a step-by-step tutorial here. Just have a look at their site, and you’ll see just how easy it can be to create modern, high-quality call sheets.

Wrapping up

We hope this guide was helpful in teaching you how to create a call sheet. Creating call sheets may seem like a daunting task, but armed with the right information and tools, it can be quite simple and even fun.

Do you have any tips on call sheet creation that we didn’t mention? Let us know via our social media channels!

FAQs

What is a call time?

A call time is the scheduled time for a cast or crew member to arrive on set. This can also be referred to as a report time.

When should call sheets be sent out?

You should have your final call sheet printed and ready within 10 – 14 hours of your next shoot call time. You could also email it earlier to provide your cast and crew with the call sheet as soon as possible.

How often are call sheets made or updated?

Call sheets are generally created once a day for the next day of production. However, if there is a last-minute change, an update can be sent out to the cast and crew.

Who creates call sheets?

The second assistant director is responsible for preparing and distributing call sheets. The first assistant director will offer revisions when necessary and the production manager will approve the final call sheet before distribution.

What if I can’t find a particular piece of information?

If you can’t find a particular piece of information, ask the production office or your department head. They will be able to help you track down the missing piece of information.

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