People in the film industry know what a call sheet template is and its importance in their work schedules. This is an essential production document that includes all of the information needed in a photo or film shoot and the success of a project can depend on how well-written and detailed your film call sheet is.
Call Sheet Templates
What is a movie call sheet?
A movie call sheet template is the most important document in a film or photo production. The assistant directors are typically responsible for handling the issuance of a simple call sheet template that’s disseminated at the beginning of each shooting day. You can break down production sheets into different sections:
- The first section contains crucial production information and should always come before the other sections.
- The second section covers the time and location of the shoot. You can also find extra information relevant to the shoot like local weather forecasts, as well as, the location of the nearest hospital here.
- The third section covers the details of the shoot and the information provided here gets organized in a schedule for shooting. This gives the crew an idea of how long the shooting day will last and what needs execution in every scene.
- The fourth section covers the people involved in the shoot and the information gets organized through a crew grid which, in turn, you can organize by department.
Free Call Sheets
What should be on a call sheet?
A call sheet template contains everything that you have to know when shooting a project. Here is a brief description of some things you may find in a call sheet example:
- Contact details of the VIPs
The top-left corner of film production templates like call sheets display the logo of the production company, the office details of the company, and more importantly, the contact details of the VIPs. Any of the talents or crew members who want to get in touch with someone immediately can use this section as a reference.
- Production title and crew call
Simple call sheet templates should always prominently display at the top of the page the name of the production along with the crew call. This is also the place where you can highlight any special announcements.
- Dates, days, and weather
Also, near the top of the film call sheet, place the date and the days of the shoot. Weather conditions are also placed within the vicinity including high or low expected temperatures, times or sunrise or sunset, and other relevant details.
- Set address, hospitals, and parking
You can find the locations of shooting sites at the top-half of the production sheets. If there is more than one, label these with numbers. Include here the address of the parking lot since this is often different from where the shooting takes place. Also, include any other notes about driving, parking, shuttles or directions to and from the location.
It doesn’t matter how small or big a production is. Make it a point to include the address of the closest hospital from each of the locations. In case something unexpected or a serious emergency happens, the only place you could look for a hospital location is through a call sheet. Make sure that your call sheet has a hospital listing with a 24-hour emergency center.
- Daily shooting schedule
The greater part of these film production templates focuses on what you would do for each shooting day. On average, a typical independent film can have as many as 5 pages each day including what the time you serve meals. Based on union rules, you must serve a complete meal no more than 6-hours from the general crew call. At the bottom, sum up all the pages to get a total page count for the day.
- Talent list
Following after the schedule of the day is the section that indicates the call times of talents. In a typical call sheet example, this section provides the talent’s name, ID number, character name, call times, and status.
- Background and Stand-Ins
You find here the extras list which features a headcount of all the extra “types” that will work for that day along with their call times. The sheet also provides information to the production unit, wardrobe, make-up, assistant directors, catering, and more of the extras you need to maintain for that day.
- Department notes
In the majority of call sheet templates is a section that highlights specific notes for departments that can be of anything to include wardrobe, essential props in a scene, a note about a complex writing setup or a reminder for when you need to bring something important to the set.
- Crew list
Coming next to talent is a crew list that provides the names of all the crew members in attendance for that particular day. What you include here are their names, call times, and positions. In some productions, you may also add the contact details of the crew members.
- Advanced schedule
This is basically an initial shooting schedule for the following day. This is an optional addition as changes could occur to the shooting schedule each day. This section gives everyone time to prepare.
- Walkie-talkie channels
You can find walkie-channels added in the general notes or footer of the call sheet. There are industry standards regarding the use of channels for specific departments but these may differ by production. This makes it advisable to include them on your call sheet too.
Film Call Sheets
What does SWF mean on a call sheet?
The status column on a simple call sheet template specifies the length of the talent’s job on a project with several days. For those in the know, they understand the meaning of the letters S, W, H, F in this column. Here are the meanings of the common abbreviations you may see in this document:
- SW means “Starts Work,” the talent’s first day.
- W means “Works,” the talent is in the midst of their job
- WF means “Work Finished,” the talent’s last day on the job
- SWF means “Start Work Finished,” the talent works for one day only.
- H means “Hold,” the talent won’t work for that day.
Tips for using your call sheet template
Before distributing your call sheet template for the day’s shooting, check out these final tips to make them very effective:
- Create a new folder for each shooting day
If you foresee a busy schedule or you have many projects going on simultaneously, you should have a strong folder system. Create one folder for each shooting day and enter everything you need for the day inside the folder.
- Back up all of your call sheets
Computers only do what you instruct them to do. There are times when they crash and you might find things missing, something you wouldn’t want to happen at mid-shoot at the expense of your film call sheets that you have impeccably crafted. Make it a habit to backup your files regularly to avoid such situations.
- Only send out one call sheet each day
You will find in the glamorous, high-flying world of film production that things are constantly subjected to change. This is the reason why you should send your call sheets only once so that everything gets locked-in instead of sending an entire week of call sheets in just one go.
- Keep checking the weather
Things continuously shift around in a production shoot including the weather. Check what to expect for the week or for the next three days or check it the day before the shoot. Then check it again first thing in the morning on the day of the shooting. This prepares you for whatever’s coming. Include the latest forecast on your call sheet too.
- Use a PDF format
When sending out your call sheet, never do so in its native format or as a live Google sheet link, otherwise, you run the risk of having someone editing it then sending out a different version. Moreover, not everybody has the proper software to view it, especially when they view your call sheet from their smartphones. Instead, save your call sheet as a PDF file then send it to the crew.
- Proofread before sending
You may find it difficult to check your work for mistakes, especially when it’s a spreadsheet that contains a lot of names, dates, times, and other details. If you would like your shoot to proceed without any issues, it’s recommended to proofread your work first. It takes only a few minutes to do this and if you really, really want it error-free, then review it again.
- Get your document approved
Finally. before sending out your call sheet, make sure that all of the crew chiefs feel happy with it. If they are, then you need to get the approval from them after making the final changes. After that, send it out.
When should call sheets be sent out?
In general, a call sheet in film productions gets sent out the night before a shoot to the film crew by the first assistant director. As discussed earlier, the call sheet details the key information about the shoot day to the film crew and cast about the call time, location, and scenes to film that day.