What is art? Ask a roomful of people and you will get as many answers as there are people. Some may mention Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and argue that realism is the truest form of art. The goal being to make the hues and brushstrokes blend together and basically go unnoticed. Others may argue that it is postmodern art, where every possible medium and material can be used to express the artist’s ideas and anti-logic. To me, video is one of the truest forms of art and therefore creativity.
Many people think of art and creativity as the same thing. In many senses, they are. Along the same vein, many people think of creativity and free-flowing randomness as the same thing. They are not. Truly creative art takes a great deal of planning before and during the process to create the desired outcome. It doesn’t “just happen”.
Great video is no different. It’s not something that’s just shot on the fly with the hopes of capturing what the client envisioned. Benjamin Franklin advised young tradesmen, “Remember that time is money.” It is. My clients don’t want to waste their time or their money. They want to know that both are being used effectively. An incredible video doesn’t just come together haphazardly. Hence, the Call Sheet. It is a key tool that I use to make sure everyone is on the same page.
The Call Sheet in Action
Recently we had a client with a tight production schedule involving two locations, three cameras, and two different lighting setups. After filming at the first location, we later moved to a live event. Live event schedules are determined by the event itself. There is no space for error. Set up and teardown had to occur at precise times. My guys needed to know where to be and when to be there. They needed to know what they would be doing every moment. The team had to be coordinated so that the schedule, and ultimately the video, would work. We had one shot.
Part of our intentional pre-production work was to create a call sheet to make sure we were all coordinated. With such a tight production time frame, there would be no time or room to ask questions, make extra decisions, or make mistakes. All of that had to be discussed and decided beforehand.
As part of the callsheet, the event room diagram came in very handy. The live event location manager helped assemble one so my guys knew the exact set up plan before ever arriving onsite. Questions were clarified prior to the live event day.
In building the call sheet, it took a lot of phone calls and emails to make sure everything was taken care of during pre-production. Planning ahead allowed everything to run smoothly during the event itself. By having such an organized and specific plan, we were able to provide our client with the professional results they desired and deserved.
The Heart of The Call Sheet
Are there times when a production is small enough that a call sheet seems excessive? Yes, a full-blown call sheet can be too much for some shoots. However, I believe that planning well and doing things right the first time is important across all aspects of production. No one wants to waste time or money to do something a second time. Explicit plans are created to effectively use both financial and timing budgets. Most people don’t think about the planning that goes on behind the scenes, but these plans are what allow the client’s vision to become a video reality. There’s always a plan. It’s what allows the creativity to flow.