When it comes to call sheets, I’m a believer. Truth be told, this probably makes me a little OCD. After all, the detail and organization of a well made call sheet goes way beyond what most people would consider necessary. But let’s face it, a well run film set isn’t managed by “most people.” It takes a special person, a believer who understands how important all of this information is, and how to communicate it.
If information is power, the call sheet has to be the most powerful document on set, but it’s also the hardest to make and to learn how to use. Call sheet creation is often not taught and it’s definitely not 2nd nature, but it is necessary for all aspiring filmmakers who want to grow the complexity and scale of their productions.
If information is power, the call sheet has to be the most powerful document on set, but it’s also the hardest to make and to learn how to use.
So first, let’s start with why. Why take the time to learn this? Why do a call sheet at all? Is this insane amount of detail necessary? The answer is actually simple when you look at the size and scale of what you’re doing. If you’re making a small, short, or simple project chances are you don’t need a call sheet. You can probably communicate via text or e-mail all of the info that your fellow filmmakers need to know: “show up here, at this time, we’re doing this, bring that.” However, as the scale of your production grows the volume of everything else related to that production grows too. You’re not dealing with 3 people anymore you’re dealing with 30 (or more). They’re all coming from different directions, doing different things, starting at different times, reporting to different people, and yet all working together on a one multifaceted script that alone contains hundreds of pages, thousands of words, and millions of details. Filmmakers don’t just make call sheets because OCD people like me love them, they make them to survive the overwhelming flood that is large scale production. Call sheets are a lifejacket that can keep a filmmaker’s head above water and their production on track despite setbacks, limited resources, and inexperience.
Call sheets are a lifejacket that can keep a filmmaker’s head above water and their production on track.
Even if you’re not OCD like me, it’s worth it to be a believer. Your ideas and dreams are worth it. Test your limits by making a detailed plan and sticking to it. To learn more about the making of an actual call sheet check out “The Lifecycle of a Call Sheet.”