The callsheet (or “call sheet”) is the densely packed sheet of paper given out at the end of a production day which provides information about the next shooting day. If you receive the callsheet at the beginning of the day, it has information about what the current day will look like. While not obviously confidential, the callsheet is more or less confidential, or at very least it shouldn’t be distributed to people who do not work on the production.
As a stand-in, you are usually only privy to the callsheet when you get your sides, where it is attached to the front of them as a cover. Often the page is shrunken down to very small print, but if you can read it and interpret it, you’ll have a sense of what’s going to happen in the current day of shooting.
Obviously, it is better to know what is planned for the shoot day than to be left in the dark. Scoring a callsheet in advance of the production day is even better — but stand-ins don’t regularly get access to callsheets at the end of a shoot day. Here are some methods for scoring callsheets in advance of a shoot day.
If you are standing in for one day on a project, there may be no practical way for you to score a callsheet in advance of that shoot day. In such a case, having the callsheet on the front of the sides you get on the day of shooting may have to suffice.
If you want to get some kind of advance information about the production, ask casting. When being cast to stand in, you might ask the casting director for a little bit of insight into the shoot day. The CD may or may not have an idea (and should not be taken as an authority on the shoot day as things can change rapidly on a set or in a production schedule). That may be all the information you need on most days before working.
Asking a Stand-In Friend
However, having the callsheet the night before the shoot day does help, even if you are only standing in as a day-player. If you are friendly with a regular stand-in on a project, you might ask that stand-in to text or email the callsheet to you when it is released. (It is usually distributed at wrap.)
A regular stand-in’s providing you with a callsheet should be assumed merely a courtesy, and it is generally recommended not to be too demanding of this stand-in for information because of the focus and energy that stand-in’s job likely demands. It might be good to simply let the stand-in know you are working the next day, and to see if the callsheet will be volunteered to you. Some regular stand-ins who know trusted friends will use the information confidentially may happily provide it. Other stand-ins may prefer not to be the source or channel of that information.
Getting One at Wrap
Say that you are working either as a background actor or a stand-in one day on a project, and you’re going to be back the next day as a stand-in. In such a case, you might be able to grab a callsheet at wrap.
At wrap, production assistants (PAs) will walk around or station themselves in places to distribute callsheets. If you are working regularly on a project, a PA will be inclined to hand you a callsheet if you ask. If you are working only for a couple days on a project, the PA may be disinclined to hand you a callsheet. However, you may always ask if you can have one, explaining that you’re standing in the next day on the production.
That said, sometimes not asking for permission for a callsheet and just presuming you’re entitled to one works even better at scoring one. PAs sometimes have bosses who may say who gets a callsheet or not, but many PAs are friendly and if they can spare one for you — especially if you’re working tomorrow on the project — they understand the value of having one in order to do your job.
Asking the Production Department
Your immediate boss on set usually is the background PA. If you work regularly as a stand-in on a project, you might ask the BG PA to see if you could get on the email distribution list for callsheets. The BG PA may be able to ask the appropriate personnel if your email address could be added. That way, at wrap, you’ll get the callsheet emailed to you — which is very helpful on those days when you are wrapped before production wraps and aren’t around to grab the callsheet.
But if you have a relationship with a 2nd 2nd AD or even the 2nd AD, those people may be better production people to ask in order to get your name on the email distribution list. It probably is not a high priority to have stand-ins getting emailed callsheets, but some productions may see it in their best interests to have stand-ins roped into the email lists that provide information on the production.
It might end up you get added to other email distribution lists including ones that have the preliminary information (usually out at some point after lunch), one-liners (which lay out the shooting schedule over an episode or entire film), and other production announcements.
Asking the Office
If you are in proximity of the production office or if you can call the production office, that may be another means for getting access to a callsheet. Explaining to someone in the production office that you’re a stand-in on the project and would like to see about getting callsheets emailed to you, that person may take your email address and add you to the email distribution list.
Of course, it is not unheard-of to score callsheets from on-set trashcans or dropped callsheets on the floor!
Callsheets are also often located along with the sides for the day in a box or package somewhere on set, often near a PA. If you can learn to identify that box, you may find some callsheets — but likely at the point the callsheets are in this box, you are in the new shoot day and you are holding sides with the callsheet on them.
Having a callsheet may be in your disinterest to have on some sets, which might see stand-ins having this information as a fireable offence. It is probably best not to be too obvious in flashing a callsheet until you have a sense of whether that possession is okay.
Also, you should not let the times you see listed on the callsheet dictate your call time for the next day — unless you have an arrangement with the production. Instead, you should let casting direct you about your call time for the next day.
If you happen to notice a discrepancy between the call time casting gives you and the call time listed on the callsheet, you may want to get in touch with casting to clarify the discrepancy to make sure casting is not in error. Sometimes call-time information does change after the release of the callsheet, and you might not be aware of it.
Do you have any other recommendations for getting callsheets? If so, share below!