How to Read a Film Call Sheet
A film call sheet can be challenging to understand and decipher for those of us that are not active in the film industry. However, much of the terminology and the abbreviations used throughout the sheet are industry standard. Therefore, if you learn how to read a film call sheet once, you can read just about any call sheet in the industry. Follow along to learn more.
The top corner of the call sheet includes the contact details that generally consist of the production company logo, the location of the production company office, their VIP contacts and any important telephone numbers for top-level crew.
Title and General Crew Call
The production title and the general crew call time is placed near the top of the call sheet so that you can easily find it and see. If there are any special announcements, those are also included in this area of the call sheet.
Date, Day of Days and Weather
Today’s date, the day of the shoot that we are on and the expected weather for the day are included next. Weather will show the high and low temps, whether there is rain forecast and what time the sun will rise and set.
Set Address & Detail
The set address section will define the location of the shoot and any parking details that must be understood to ensure proper travel and parking. This area of the call sheet will also include information about local hospitals in case of accident, illness or emergency while shooting.
The call sheet will include the daily shoot schedule that is sorted by scene to include the following vital information:
- The scene number
- The scene title or heading from the script
- Any notes about props, stunts or other scene details
- Whether the scene is a day or night shoot
- Who is performing based on character ID
- The location of the scene in the storyline
- The page count for the scene
This section will also outline the total page count for the day to give an idea of how long the days shoot will be.
The call sheet will also include a talent list that is outlined by name, character ID, character name, status and appropriate call time.
The status of talent includes several film call sheet abbreviations such as:
- SW which means starts work
- W which means works
- WF which means work finish
- SWF which means start work finish same day
- H which means hold
Understanding talent status is very important when reading a film call sheet.
The next section of the call sheet is the film background and extra talent details. This will appear similar to the talent list. Details will outline the type of extra, the scene they are in, and the call time.
The department notes section of the call sheet will outline any references to key props for the set, wardrobe and other information such as lighting or audio needs.
The crew list outlines the various crew positions in attendance that day, their name and call time. Contact details may also be included in this section.
The advanced schedule outlines the preliminary shoot schedule for the following day. These details can change but generally are someway prepared in advance and available to help with planning.
Call sheets also include notes regarding the walkie channels that can be used for various departments. These details can vary with each production and are best outlined in the call sheet.