The call sheet is something you should make when you are producing a film. Cast and crew love them because it’s proof of the days they have spend on set. In order to get into the union you need to work a specified number of days on film sets and this is the best way to prove how many days you have worked.
Call sheets are actually really easy to fill out if you have a shooting schedule. The best way to create one is to do it when you are creating the script. We have talked about a bunch of techniques such as the mini movie method. For no budget films this is my favorite because you basically break your film down into 8 shorts and film each one individually. Think about that for a moment. You don’t have money and you want to make a movie. You could do a short in a 48 hours. That is tough but think about it for a second. What if you did one of those 48 hour film challenges and you used one of the 8 mini movies as a short. You could modify it to the specifications of the contest. You film it in 49 hours as per the contest instructions. You end up with a watchable completed short. Then the do reshoots and a re-edit to match it to your film.
It’s not fun to do 48 hour challenges but I would guess your city has a few of them every year. Let’s say your city has four. You could piggy back on the contest getting actors and crew to help out under the guise that no one gets paid because it’s for fun. This would get you half a completed film.
Now let us say you meet some people that you enjoy working with and they like you. It might be easy to get them to meet up for 48 hours do film another short. You could even tell them that you just came up with a sequel for the short you all just worked on. Let’s film next weekend. Boom now you have five sections of the film done.
Another strategy is to film your feature over 8 weekends. And you don’t have to film every weekend. If someone isn’t available or a location isn’t accessible then you could skip a week. Would it matter if the project took three or four months to complete? Is there a rush? And if there is a rush, let me propose the question of why? Would it matter if it was done over the course of a year.
The main reason I love breaking the project down into smaller sections is because it allows for learning. It allows you to replace actors or crew that aren’t working without hurting someone. You film a 48 hour festival and then you aren’t happy. You could re-film making those adjustments. Practice makes perfect. The second time it’s going to be a lot easier.
Bottom line is you can learn from your mistakes. Have something to work through the editing and post production process. Normal film projects get filmed then go to post. When your not experienced or have unexperienced guild members on your crew it helps a ton.
It’s easier to work with smaller parts. It’s easier to cast. It’s easier to schedule. It’s easier to get quality people involved.
Having a working short or part of your film is a tool. You can use the short to raise money. You can use it for crowd funding. You can use it to attract new better quality people to the project. And most importantly you can rewrite and fix issues and problems before wasting more time and effort on a larger project that ends up needing to be re-filmed anyway.
The other option if you have a little money is to film the entire script in one week. You can stretch that week to seven actual filming days instead of five. Think about it this way. 90 page script over 7 days means you need to get 13 pages done per day. Those are going to be long days. You better have money to feed everyone. You better have an editor on set. You better have a continuity person aka script supervisor. And my advice would be to schedule reshoots the following weekend. Or as they refer to them in the industry pickup shots. That would give you a few days to get a rough cut assembled.
When you break down the script. You want to break it down by locations and actors. So if you have an actor who is only in two scenes or three scenes do them all on one day. It’s a smaller commitment for the actor who are notoriously more interested in having fun and glamour that doing hard work.
When you have one or two scenes in one location get them done on the same day so you don’t have to worry about getting access to the location a second day when you probably won’t be welcome back. Also if you don’t own the location they change. I filmed a movie once in a restaurant. We wanted to film a few redos but they went out of business.
Now let me suggest to you when you write your film if you broke down the concept into 8 locations or had each mini movie with different actors then you might need 8 days to film instead of 7. That ends up being more like a 10 day shoot. 10 pages a day translates to a long day and you might be best just going with the longer days and fewer days. Now if you did 8 weekends for each mini movie that translates to 16 filming days. AKA 5 pages per day. That’s very manageable. If your film is 40 scenes each scene is 2.5 pages. Each filming day winds up being two scenes.
So the moral of this story and the best way to design call sheets and create a filming schedule is to do it during the creation process.