Call sheets - why you need them for productions

Hey guys, Deacon here!

Just a quick host safety heads up: how many of you are requiring productions to send you their call sheets?

By now, most of you already know what a call sheet is - a list of cast, crew, times and places, but have you ever thought what it means in regards to keeping your space (and by extension, yourselves) safe?

Knowing who will be in your space serves a number of needs. The first is that if anything happens to you, there’s now a suspect list. This is of course the most unlikely, but knowledge is, as they say, ‘power’.

The next is that if you have an incident (bad renter, damage, etc) you can create a blacklist and check all future call sheets against it. We have maintained our blacklist in a growing Google document and it’s filled with models and actors from our own productions who haven’t shown up, clients that have been challenging and renters who has broken rules or been difficult to work with or who have broken rules.

Sometimes it’s little things, like getting an attitude when we go over the rules, and sometimes it’s bigger things, like crew walking on our kitchen island, breaking items or mouthing off to our building’s management team.

Each entry in our secret blacklist (and by all means, keep yours secret) has a name, a date, a production name (if any) and the reason why they’re on that list.

If you have kids, valuables or are in a vulnerable position, you may even want to conduct a cursory background check to ensure that the people who will be in your space are not on the sex offender registry or do not have a history of violence, active warrants, etc.

All of this takes time, so you want to have a call sheet at least 48 hours ahead of time. At a bare minimum (for smaller productions) 24 hours is fine.

Next, you want to get the call sheet off of your hard drive or phone and onto a cloud server, like Google docs, onedrive, dropbox, etc.

What happens when you don’t get a call sheet?

Make sure this never happens and list this as a requirement in your listing. Our space is pretty large and has a lot of shooting options. But we also have two cats, so we keep those cats in either a separate room or in their kitty tent (it’s a massive 7’ tent made just for cats), but all of this takes time and prior consideration. The tent has to be put together, we need the litter, their food, scratching posts and cat beds. If we have no idea where the renters are going to be, then where do we put the cats?

Not only that, but you want to know how your space is being used. If someone books us for a 3 hour rental, but they immediately start moving couches and pulling fragile paintings off the wall, we are going to have a problem with that. Likewise, if they’re going to use the bedroom, we might want a chance to slip on some fresh sheets (or plan to wash the sheets the night before).

In addition, you want to know when their camera wrap time is. If they’ve booked 3 hours, but have a crew of 30 with lots of lighting, there’s a good chance that you might have a potential disaster on your hands.

We’ve had instances where we’ve rented for ‘X’ amount of hours, but the renters were clearly intending on staying for much longer.

Overtime is a luxury that we can’t always afford to give, because of prior obligations, such as other rentals. We’ve had a few who have booked back to back and I’m not really crazy about that, because it’s assuming that everything will go perfect with the first rental, which we know isn’t always the case.

But if you see a call sheet, you can extrapolate how much time the production is REALLY going to take and address any issues beforehand. The best call sheets even have a schedule with the locations and wrap time listed.

You want this. You want to know when they’re going to be cleaning up. You want to avoid a situation where a renter has rented until 8pm, but they’re still filming scenes at 7:35pm and spend 15 minutes literally running through your space throwing things back into place. This is how your valuables get damaged, this is how you end up with insurance claims and missed expectations reports.

I hope that helps a few out and remember that if you have call sheets listed as a requirement to rent your space and you don’t receive one, you have the option of cancelling that production. Or, you can take a gamble and keep it on the books. 70% of the time it’s probably just fine, but when it comes to your personal safety, your reputation, your family and your home/place of business, you might want to go that extra step.

Cheers everyone and I look forward to seeing you at our next event!!

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Thanks so much for sharing this information. It was extremely helpful.

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I always request call sheets and only get them about 50% of the time. Clients even sign off on my terms and that’s one of them and then some don’t supply. Not sure there’s any way to force it. I ask for them 24 hours prior to arrival.

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@Deacon_T
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Thank you for always sharing your experiences and offering great advice/suggestions!
Much appreciated.

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