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.
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.