Jan. 1, 2021

How to make your call-sheet stand out from the crowd

How to make your call-sheet stand out from the crowd

πŸ’―πŸ’―πŸ’― "Whether this is a paid or collaborative photoshoot, the quality of communication you provide to your team is going to have a big role in your project's success or failure."

A call-sheet is a pivotal part of your photo shoot process.  It alerts your entire team of the details you set so that you don't have to spend time answering questions during the creative process.  In this episode, I'll break down the following 4 categories I put on a call sheet:

  1. Logistical information
  2. Creative information
  3. Safety information
  4. Intellectual Property information

By doing this, you can provide your creative team a clearer understanding of the project, setting a tone of greater professionalism and care.


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So let's get right to it, folks. Today's episode is going to be about call sheets. So I'm going to be talking about how to build a call sheet for your production team. What does it actually mean? And why is this information important, so that you can build a successful photoshoot. So let's define call sheet right off the bat, I define a call sheet as a simple document, usually in a PDF form. But it doesn't have to be I suppose that's going to provide your team the pertinent information heading into the shoot. What separates us information from let's say phone calls or texts or emails is that it can be accessed easier and passed along. So you have to assume that somebody might be passing this information to somebody else. That's important to note because nobody wants to afford somebody else, an email thread that goes back and forth 20 times to get the information that they need. They want something that's easy, that's accessible, that's right at the fingertips. Whether this is a paid or collaborative photoshoot, the quality of communication you provide to your team is going to have a big role in your project's success or failure. The reason I say this, is that because I have found over time, that when you have a lack of clarity, a lack of direction, when you have an excess of logistical confusion, especially on the day of a shoot, it kills creativity. That's not just a photographer, that's also your assistants who might be a second set of eyes. It might be your wardrobe stylist, your model, your makeup artist, your digital tech, everybody on your team has a creative voice. So I recommend focusing on nailing some of the pre-production details so that you don't have to deal with them as they come up on the day of the shoot. ruining all the creativity. Now, oftentimes, call sheets are most typically known for being one page to keep things simple. There's nothing wrong with that. And in fact, there's a beauty behind having something as simple as one page, I'm going to explain why I keep my call sheets to about three to four pages because I like to describe mine more akin to like an employee handbook, where all the information that you could possibly need is going to be in one concise PDF. Now the overall length of the call sheet is really less important than the content itself, of course. So let's break down the important factors to list on your call sheet so that if you decide to go one page, or four pages, or 10 pages, you have all the information that you need. So I like to break my call sheet down into four basic categories of information. And I provide this to my team. The first category is logistical information, obviously, that's going to be the time the location and the contacts, they need to know that the second category and shouldn't be forgotten is the creative information. What is the field? What is the look what's the intended inspiration behind this project? Number three, the third category deals with health and safety information, what precautions are in place to provide safety for the crew. And then lastly, I like to provide intellectual property information. So what publishing rights will I grant the team after the shoot?

So let's dive into logistical information that you're going to need to provide number one is the date of the shoot. Number two is the location of the shoot. Now in terms of location, I highly recommend linking a Google Maps link to the address so that when people click on it, it pops right up. And also include any recommendations on parking. Is there metered parking is our parking lot. Is there free parking, how far is the venue from the parking, things of that nature? Number three, a weather forecast. Especially if you're going to be shooting outdoors. You don't have to be accurate weather people usually aren't. So it's okay. But if you can provide a rough estimate that will go a long way for the shooting schedule. This is the meat and potatoes here, what time you want people to arrive versus what time do you want to start shooting. Those are different things. As an example, if you have one makeup artist and three models, having the same call time for each model may simply be wasting their time. Some of them are just gonna be sitting around. So be cognizant of how you want to stagger your talent and your crew. The more people you have coming to set, the more you'll have to consider. Five, your cast and crew contact list. So this is where you list everyone's phone numbers, their emails, maybe even their social media handles. The reason why I like to have everybody accessible

Especially with each other is that let's just say for example your stylist or wardrobe stylist needs measurements last minute from one of your subjects, you happen to be doing something else and aren't able to connect the two people, it'd be far easier for them to connect directly as opposed to going through you. So now that we've covered logistical information, let's talk about the creative information. Now, presumably, you've already had discussions with a few of the people on your team already. I mean, how else would you have gotten them on board for this project. But this is another redundancy that I find an opportunity to reinforce what your creative vision is, in the best way that I found to illustrate the creative vision that I'm leaning towards, is through a mood board. And in that mood board, I may actually have more categories broken down. So it's not just going to be based on lighting inspiration. Some of it might be body language, or poses, or makeup or wardrobe, or location. So by doing so, and listing it, everybody understands where my vision is headed. Now, one last little caveat, I will say is that depending on who this job is for will dictate whether or not you produce the mood board at all. If it's a personal project, chances are nobody else is going to do this. If it's a paid job, if you're doing an ad campaign for a clothing company, there's a very good chance that they might provide the mood board for you because they have their specific shot list. So just keep that in mind as you go forward. Okay, so moving on. Now, we've talked about the logistical information, we've talked about the creative information that you're gonna provide. Let's talk about health and safety just for a minute. It's very hard to gauge in today's climate, how long we're going to be dealing with social distancing and wearing masks. Is this going to be a five-year window? Is it going to be done in one year, I have no clue. But it isn't coming upon me, as the group leader, as the photographer organizing this, to make sure that everybody feels comfortable and safe. And to address the issues of COVID-19. Before anyone has to ask, what you determine is the best for you and your shoot is going to be different from what I decide and what other people decide. So you just have to think about this. But the common questions generally are going to be, will this be a mask mandatory? Or will it be a mask free zone?

How about his hand sanitizer going to be brought for the crew? Or does it need to be brought by each individual? or will there be COVID testing requirements prior to shooting? If you can answer these questions well before the day of the shoot, then you won't have to deal with them on the day of the shoot. Therefore, you have provided your service to the team have a safe place to work. So now that we've wrapped up those three other categories, let's talk about the last category of information that I like to provide. It's about intellectual property. Now, typically speaking, image rights aren't necessary to have on a call sheet, that's usually something that you put on a model release as well as a license after the fact. The reason why I like to put this on the call sheet, is it sets the tone, it lets people know upfront what they can and can't do when publishing the images. It also gives you a buffer period in which they have an ability to respond to the terms of your projected contract. So if you're going to say, Hey, listen, you can't use the images for X, Y, and Z. And they say, you know what I really need to use these images for why would you be able to negotiate. Instead of having a potentially contentious relationship and conversation after the fact, you can have this cordially before the shoot. And then you can hash out any areas where you might want to negotiate. This makes it again, a great experience not only for yourself but for the people that you're shooting with. So those are the four basic information buckets I address on my call sheet. Now, I'm going to add one little bonus feature here that I think will really improve your photoshoot experience. And that is in the form of an FAQ page on your call sheet. FAQs For the uninitiated stands for frequently asked questions. And the reason this method works so well is that it anticipates the potential questions or concerns from the people involved. So if you can address these things, it will cut down the time you spent on answering follow up questions if you didn't have this form. As an example, before I started implementing FAQs, after each shoot, I maybe send two to four images per look to each team member. And invariably, almost every time came these questions coming back. Can I get more shots? Can I have all of them? Can I see the entire take? Can I choose the images you retouch Can I get it in black and white? The list goes on and on. And so suffice it to say I started adding these questions into my FAQ list and entered them upfront so they didn't have to deal with them after the fact. This is not only huge for your sanity, but it's also going to create a better experience for your team. So I recommend to anybody that's producing a call sheet to really anticipate what questions might arise. Think about what your makeup artists might have questions about what your stylist might have questions about, what about your assistants, your

models. Is there a creative director onboard? If you can continually make everyone's life easier, and you can anticipate their needs, anticipate their wants? Well, before they even have the thought of asking about it, you will have provided a tremendous service. Beyond that, you will have provided a great experience a joyous experience on this shoot, and you will have set yourself up as the unquestioned expert. There's a quote that I love from marketing strategist, Jay Abraham, and it goes like this. If you can define the problem better than your target customer, they will automatically assume you have the solution and apply this thought process to all of your collaborations to all of your clients. Think about the questions that they might have the concerns they might have, keep improving your communication, walk your team hand in hand through this process like nobody else, and become the standard to which everyone else is compared to.

That's going to wrap it up for this episode. Thank you to all you entrepreneurs out there for tuning into this show. If you enjoyed the content, please subscribe on your favorite podcasting service and share this episode with other creatives just like you have a great day folks. Keep on creating. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai