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What is a Call Sheet?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A call sheet is chart issued to the cast and crew of a theatrical or film production, listing the production schedule. Typically, in addition to including a schedule, the call sheet also includes a list of contact information for other members of the cast and crew. These sheets are often issued at the beginning of the week, because schedules change frequently, and trying to plan further ahead can become quite complicated. As a general rule, when these documents are assembled, the scheduler assumes that everyone is available at any time, unless specifically informed otherwise.

The information on a call sheet can be difficult to interpret at a glance, especially for people who are not familiar with the industry. Typically, the production schedule is listed by “call time,” as in the time at which people are expected. Call times vary, depending on whether someone is in the cast or the crew, and what is scheduled for the day. In addition to listing call times, the sheet also includes the location of the call, and makes a note about what is being planned, so that people know what to expect.

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Call sheets usually include information about how to reach the call location, and they may include notes about parking, whether or not meals are provided, and so forth. Many companies encourage people to carpool to distant locations, and sometimes transportation will be provided, in which case the document will indicate that everyone is meeting up at a parking lot at a specific time, and proceeding to the location. Safety notes, clothing recommendations, and other errata may also be included on a call sheet, under the assumption that because everyone needs to read the sheet, this information will reach everyone involved with the production.

A master call sheet, including the full schedule for the day, will be maintained in an office. These sheets list all the locations being used by first and second units, along with the schedules of office staff and other support staff. Looking at a master call sheet would be too confusing, so copies of isolated sections of the schedule are often produced produced separately for cast and crew. Usually people are also encouraged to call a message line the night before to confirm their call time.

People are expected to read their call sheets and show up on time. If people have questions or scheduling conflicts arise, the scheduling coordinator must be contacted to discuss the issue. As a general rule, last-minute conflicts are viewed as a major problem, because the scheduling for a production relies on the coordination of so many people that one's person's absence or lateness can put a serious wrinkle into the production planning.

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anon346746
Post 6

I am thrilled to be receiving my first call sheet next week for my daughter. I had no clue what a call sheet was - I thought I had to call people, but that made no sense, since they are paying us! Thanks for the information and I understand now that things can change last minute! Can't wait for the shoot!

anon290775
Post 5

I am sorry for my little diatribe. Call sheets are good. They're wonderful. Just don't use them as god's law. Anything can and will happen, so really be prepared, like days, weeks and until the final cut, be prepared. --Mike

anon290774
Post 4

I just found this page and had a great laugh. I started work at The Burbank Studios in 1977. It was a cloud developed by Warner Brothers when

Columbia moved on the lot.

My job as messenger was to collect the daily call sheets, take them to the print shop and get them to the departments. We had all the Warner TV shows: "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Wonder Woman," along with

Columbia's "Police Story" and "Fantasy Island," etc. We also had Lorimar's "The Waltons" and "Eight is Enough," not to mention various feature films.

I worked there until 1983 and all call sheets ever got me was a pain in the butt. The only call I never had any trouble with was the first sheet I ever picked up for a movie called "Philo Bedeo." You might know it as "Every Which Way but Loose."

helene55
Post 3

@BambooForest, call sheets definitely make the lives of the people coordinating productions much easier. And having master copies posted also makes it possible to know break times and call times even if actors have lost call their call sheets.

BambooForest
Post 2

In many theatrical productions I have been involved in, the call sheet has been coordinated by the stage manager and assistant stage manager. In theatre, there is also a master of the play call sheet that gets posted in a central location next to a check-in sheet for everyone, cast and crew, to sign in.

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