You may have heard the term “call sheet” many times. But if you’ve never sent one out yourself, you may not know everything they need and why they are so essential to every production. So what is a call sheet and what goes on it?

In this post, we’ll walk you through the crucial document, and provide a call sheet template and example. If you’re now at a point in your career where it’s time to make one, and you don’t know the basics, then you may not be fully prepared for shoot day. This could cost you BIG TIME. 

How to Make a Call Sheet in StudioBinder

The call sheet explained

Why use a call sheet?

This document is the lifeline of your production, so it’s critical you know the fundamentals.

Call Sheet Definition

What is a call sheet?

A call sheet is a daily outline for a shoot sent out by the first assistant director. It includes all the most important information about your shoot day, sourced from pre-production documents like the shot list and the shooting schedule.

Elements of a call sheet:

  • Schedule
  • Locations
  • Cast and crew contact information and call times

A call sheet is typically created by a member of the production department, such as the first assistant director, producer, or production coordinator.

Ideally, call sheets will only be sent out once, so it is best practice to leave room for any last minute modifications. You can expect a call sheet the night before a shoot day. Once you receive it, read it carefully and triple check where you need to be the next day.

Call sheet template

What does a call sheet look like?

First things first, what does this document look like? There is a lot of information that needs to be fit into a lot of different sections, so it can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, StudioBinder has a call sheet builder that lays out everything in a template so that all you have to worry about is putting in the relevant shoot information. 

StudioBinder Call Sheet Example

Look at a few call sheet examples, and you’ll see that there are several pieces of information nearly every sheet includes. Here are some of the key elements of a call sheet.

Top of the call sheet
  • Call times (general, cast, crew)

  • Weather report

  • Nearest hospital

  • Parking options

  • Producer, 1st AD, and director contact information

Bottom of the call sheet
  • Set locations

  • Schedule for the day

  • Cast list and contact information

  • Crew list and contact information

  • Department notes

Now that we know what goes into a call sheet, let’s look at what you have to do if you receive one.

Getting a call sheet

How to read a call sheet

Like we said, call sheets contain an overwhelming amount of information. Fear not, however; call sheets are built to be easy to read and understand. For more on the anatomy of a call sheet, you can check out our video:

Anatomy of a Call Sheet

Title of Shoot and Company Name

This may seem obvious, but don’t forget to put the name of the show, episode, film, or commercial title. Include the production company’s name, or any other ad agency, (if applicable).

Date and Time

Self-explanatory, it’s what tells your team when they need to be somewhere, but do not forget it. Also, useful later for paperwork.

Key Personnel

The top of the sheet will always include the key persons, usually those creating the sheet. The producer’s contact info, production coordinator, and director are usually the first.

The Forecast

If you’re going to be outside on a day that’s raining, it’s important your team knows this.

This isn’t just useful to please talent, but for your gear as well. If you know ahead of time you may not get the shot you need because of weather conditions, you have more time to plan an alternative.

Or it could be as simple as a crew member not complaining every two seconds because they didn’t bring a raincoat. If you put it on the call sheet, you’ve covered your bases. 

Nearest Hospital

If anything happens on-set, time won’t be wasted searching for the nearest hospital. 

Parking Regulations

Signify street parking or an area where parking is permitted. 

Crew/Cast Contact Info w/ Location

Certain cast and crew members may need to report to different locations at different times. This is the main chunk of the sheet.

Daily Schedule

An overview of the shooting schedule also takes up another portion of the document. Scene breakdowns, meal breaks, and company moves are usually indicated here. 

This applies to all kinds of productions. Photoshoot call sheets and even documentary call sheets all have schedules. If you want to learn more on how to create shooting schedules, click here.

Walkie Talkie Channels

Most call sheets have this, but not all. If you’re on a smaller production you may not see this.

Even though film call sheets and photoshoot call sheets are similar, photoshoots are usually smaller. I personally have been on many photoshoots that did not include this. Feel free to use our photoshoot call sheet template and film call sheet templates.

But as long as you have walkies on set, ideally you should inform the crew of the channels. Read more on walkie lingo

Additional Notes

Always leave space for any other notes you might have. These notes could be anything from noting extra time for special equipment, to special shuttle transportation during a company move. 

There is quite a bit to remember when building one, so StudioBinder has decided to make your life easy with its call sheet template.

Even if you forget everything I just told you, (hopefully you won’t), don’t worry! The template lays it all out. Your only job is to type in your specific information.

Call sheet terminology

Call sheet abbreviations

Like with everything in film, call sheets can contain lingo that seems like total gibberish to anyone who hasn’t been on set before. Let’s go through a few of the most common abbreviations you may run into. 

  • SW: Start Work. This indicates that it is an actor’s first day on the project’s set.

  • W: Work. An actor is working and it is neither their first nor last day.

  • WF: Work Finish. This marks an actor’s last day on set.

  • SWF: Start Work Finish. This is used when it is an actor’s only day on set (both their first and last day).

  • O/C: On Call. This is used for members of the shoot who are working on the project that day, but don’t need to be on set.

  • N/C: No Call. This is put next to a member who is not working that day.

  • PU: Pick Up. This is paired with a time when an actor should expect to be picked up and driven to set.

  • H/M/W: Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe. A few related abbreviations: HMU for Hair and Makeup, MUA for Makeup Artist, and WD for Wardrobe.

  • BG: Background. This is used to describe actors who are in a scene, but not the focus.

  • D/N: Day/Night. This is when the scene takes place. Remember: a scene may take place at a certain time, but shoot at a completely different time of day (like day for night).

  • I/E: Interior/Exterior. This refers to if the scene is shot inside or outside.

Remember, the clearer you are in the call sheet, the more chances you have for a smooth shoot day. 

This article was for the purpose of educating those less familiar with the document in question. Now if you want a deeper dive into how to make a call sheet for tv and film, read our next article.

Up Next

Make your own call sheet

We’ve been hinting at the StudioBinder Call Sheet Builder; now it’s time to use it. If you have a shoot coming up, look no further. The app’s intuitive lay-out will let you hit the ground running and focus on what’s important.

Up Next: Call Sheet Builder →

Create, send, and track call sheets in a snap.

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