10 tips to sending a call sheet email

When sending a Call Sheet email there are several important things to consider to make sure everything is clear and concise.

#1. Make sure the Email subject is clear.  – TV Show Title: – Ep. 716 Day 6 – Call Sheet (3.29)

#2. BCC recipients or use an email distro program such as Setkeeper, Croogloo, Scenechronize etc when sending the message.

#3. Consider creating a google doc that is shared between a few of your production crew to tweak and approve. You could share the document between the 2nd AD, POC, APOC, Prod Secretary, UPM, LP, Location Coordinator etc

#4. List at the top of the email what attachments are included in the email. If you have the ability attach digital sides…

#5. List the dates and times in a clear format.

#6. Consider highlighting certain items in yellow/red etc to draw attention to their importance.

#7. List the crew parking address at the top of the addresses so people will put that info into their GPS first. In some instances you may not want to list the set location and keep it on the Call Sheet only.

#8. Include the 2nd AD contact info

#9. Take the time to bold and unbold certain sections to make it easier to read.

#10. Keep the email brief.

 

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Setting up accounting solutions for a low budget movie

Whenever I’m hired as a Line Producer on a low budget movie under $1M I try and do most of the accounting myself and utilize the help of my production team to maintain the books.  I’m not against having an accountant…it’s just that I want to try and put as much money on screen as possible.

Here are a few tools I like to use:

Quickbooks Online

This is the main accounting platform I use for most low budget films. At the beginning of the project I sign up for the pro account with 5 users and upload a COA “Chart of Accounts” to the platform. Anytime expenses come in I’m able to easily code them using the category feature. The great thing about using Quickbooks is that it is such a universal program you don’t necessarily need a film accountant to run it. If at anytime you do run into issues you can always hire a virtual accountant that is well versed in this program.   I typically train a few of my office team members to help reconcile transactions and then I focus on the larger transactions such as wires etc. It’s possible to send ACH payments to vendors, run cost reports, balance sheets and more.

Wrapbook

I have found this platform to be the easiest-to-use film payroll platform for smaller projects. Adding cast or crew to the portal is super simple and it even connects to quickbooks. Most payroll companies require a back and forth with a payroll master that can take days….whereas with Wrapbook you can run payroll in less than an hour once everything is reviewed.

PEX

PEX is a simple p-card solution you can use to control spending with numerous cards and variable spending limits. PEX also integrates seamlessly with Quickbooks which is another plus. You can typically get approved with PEX in a matter of days and they are great about sending cards quickly. With the PEX app most of your crew should be able to reconcile transactions by taking pictures of receipts within a matter of minutes.

Conduiit

Conduiit is an online accounting solution that will help your team track check requests, wires and pos for approval. I’ve used this platform on numerous shows and it really helps me to stay organized and focused on what’s missing.

*Conduiit will be able to integrate with Quickbooks in the coming weeks.

Creating shared values with your film crew

Prior to working in the film industry I worked for several non-profits for years at a time. During that time I worked closely with several of the employees who quickly became friends and I was able to see how they worked and what their quirks were. There were even many times that we would do team-bonding events and learn about each others strengths/weaknesses and sometimes personality profiles.

The secret to really sharing the same values was having the time to get to know each other and learn how everyone likes to work.

In the film industry one problem is the often short-term approach to working together. Whether its a commercial, music video, feature or pilot… Crew members are often forced to quickly adapt to new people and new ways of doing things in their approach to work. Sometimes this type of immersion works and sometimes personalities will clash. It’s not a bad thing to work with new people and discover new ways of doing things, however at the end of the day there can be challenges with new personalities when a culture is never established early on.

One thing that I am determined to do this year is to try and establish shared values early on whether with a dept of three or an entire crew. Your values may change based on the type/size of the project or the people involved.

Below I have listed a few of the values I aim to bring with me on the next project.

#1. Accomplish this week’s tasks like you were going to eat an elephant. 

Don’t get overwhelmed. List the tasks you need to do and do everything one thing at a time.

#2. Imagine if this cast member was Tom Cruise….

If you were dealing with Tom Cruise would you point to the dressing room or trailer and say Tom its over there or would you walk with him and hold the door? Even if your actors are not famous or celebrities…how can you treat them in a way that makes them feel special.

#3. Pay people like they have $100 in the bank. 

Whether or not people have $100 in the bank is not the issue. Imagine that that there is a crew member or extra that needs that paycheck to pay their rent or car payment or whatever…. Now sometimes there are delays in payments because of an ACH or payroll issue…but having this value among your accounting team is important to instill.

#4. Master the art of sending clear, concise and creative emails. 

Take the time to craft emails so they look professional and are informative. Look for typos, errors and info that may not need to be included. Lengthy emails can be too cumbersome to be read and may be a waist of time.

#5. Focus on what is urgent important today that only you can do.

When you are faced with 100 tasks its vital that you and your team divide and conquer. You don’t want to spin your wheels doing everything when you have people on your team to focus on the tasks that they can specialize in.

#6. Relentlessly follow up with that unanswered question until it’s answered. 

Occasionally there will be a question that someone poses via email/text etc. Don’t let it go unanswered. Get back to them and try and find the answer with an appropriate amount of time.

#7. Remember that someones lack of preparation on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours. 

This famous saying is so important to remember because emergencies will come to us everyday…but we can’t always drop everything we are doing to attend to the emergency.

#8. Telling a great story sometimes mean you go over schedule or budget.

Yes I like staying on schedule and under budget, however at the end of the day no one will care if the project is lousy. Look for ways to tell a better story and be willing to adjust the schedule/budget in favor of the story.

#9. Create sacred space to share issues.

Whenever there are issues between crew members or cast its important to pull people aside and talk through the issues calmly. Avoid yelling in front of the entire crew or making a scene….this never ends well

****NOTE****

You can use one or more of these shared values at the beginning of your production. Feel free to make up your own and mix them together. Write them on a wall or whiteboard somewhere. Don’t feel like you have to lecture the entire crew with a set of shared values. Maybe share a few of them with someone in your dept or ask a team member what values they want to instill in the crew.

7 gifts filmmakers will love

As the Holiday season approaches the question may arise of what should I buy that person I love that is a filmmaker?  Below I have outlined 10 of the best gifts that filmmakers will be excited about in their everyday life that they will cherish at work.

  1. Watches. The Apple Watch Ultra or the Apple Watch Series 8 will make great stocking stuffers for any filmmaker. These newer apple watches have better health sensors are more durable and heck the ultra watch looks like a real spy device from a Bond movie.
  2. Software. Scriptation is a digital subscription that allows filmmakers to mark up scripts, transfer notes and more. They are having a black Friday sale and this would be a great gift without breaking the bank. Normally you would pay $79.99 annually but with this link you can save $30.
    Visit http://scriptation.com/sale on an iOS device.
  3. Call Sheet Holder. You can’t go wrong with the traditional Gold Fold. This product has been a staple for Assistant Directors for years. Even though I like to use a tablet I still carry my leather Gold Fold because I’m less likely to break it or have it stolen when I’m walking around on set. This is the perfect device to carry call sheets, schedules, sides and write down important notes on the day.
  4. Books.  There are several great reads out there that will inspire and equip that filmmaker you know. Check out the following books:
    Best Seat in the House: An Assistant Director Behind the Scenes of Feature Films
    Running the Show: The Essential Guide to Being a First Assistant Director
    How to Survive On Set: The Production Assistant’s Guidebook
  5. Tablets. The reMarkable and iPad are both great tablets for note taking, meetings and location/tech scouts. I love using the reMarkable for the majority of my notes while the iPad can come in handy when marking up overheads or looking at story boards for the next day’s scenes.
  6. Belt Bags. A Belt Bag might just be the missing device your filmmaker needs while on set. This everywhere bag from Lululemon can hold your phone, keys and you can carry around your waist or over your shoulder.
  7. Walkie Accessories. Who doesn’t need a walkie caddie, Tubeez, or FilmPro Elite Surveillance to spruce up their kit? Use the code BEST50 for everything 50% everything at https://onsetheadsets.com/shop/

Best Film & TV Software Management Apps – Free Webinar

I’m excited to be moderating a fun and interactive live demo on Thursday Nov 17th, 2022 at 1pm PST that will showcase some of the best software companies that support the Film and TV industry. This will be a great opportunity to learn about new and upcoming technical solutions for production.

The Lineup

Setkeeper – Nik Bars / Business Development

Distro, sides, crew onboarding and more..

Scriptation – Laura Noxon / Product Development Manager

Mark up scripts, transfer notes

RABS – Josh Weinberg / Founder

Digital Background Vouchers

Assemble – Nate Watkin / Founder

Calendar & Task List, Asset Management & File Sharing

Conduiit – Shawn Hamilton / Founder

Accounting approval system and workflow

Wraptime – Mirko Urania / Founder

Digital Out Sheets, Crew List & Health Check

When: 

Thursday Nov 17th, 2022
1PM PST | 3PM CST | 4PM EST

*Demo will last 1HR total

Register:

Click HERE

Want to learn to direct?

A former mentor/friend of mine Joth Riggs has recently launched a new course [www.directingyourmovie.com] for those who want to step into Directing.

This course gives you the confidence to handle everything from development to pre-production, production and post production.  Everything you’ll need to Direct Your Movie from Script to Screen.

While some courses on directing gloss over the specifics or only discuss directing “in theory”, this course gets into the nuts and bolts of every step of the directing process.

*You can also check out the Podcast episode I did with Joth a few years ago HERE.

Are you getting “Elk in the barn” when it comes to locations?

Elk in the Barn is a metaphor that is used by my podcast guest John Francis Collins. He’s referring to doing the hard work of getting things done when it comes to locations.  Want to know more…check out the episode!

John Francis Collins is a veteran Location Scout, Manager and ALM who has worked on countless movies and tv shows. A few of the projects that John has worked on include Emancipation, The Expendables, 12 years of slave, one night in Miami, Your Honor and Mississippi grind.

The Calm Before the Storm

You know the feeling. It could be the weekend or the week before prep or the day before shooting. You are about to embark on a new mission that will push you, stretch you, exhaust you and lead you to learn new people and ways of doing things.

The Calm Before the Storm is the idea that you are preparing for battle. The next week or months will not be easy. They could be faced with a number of things….so it’s important to take advantage of this calmness.

It’s like preparing for a hurricane. You know it’s going to hit…you just don’t know how bad. Will it be a level 1 or level 5? Will there be flooding, loss of power or will it just be heavy rains for a time period? In preparing for a hurricane you would make sure to have enough food/water at reserve, potentially board up windows and check in on friends or family members.

While the Storm of production is often not as physically destructive as a hurricane/tornado or earth quake… the emotional stress and toll can sometimes feel like you have just been through one.

How do you prepare for the storm?

Anytime I know I may embark on a new project I like to make sure as much as my life is in order because I know the next two+ months will be solely focused on this project.

  1. Refill any medicines.
  2. Change your car’s oil, clean it and fill it with gas.
  3. Do a deep clean of your house/apt.
  4. Go shopping for clothes if you might be traveling to a climate that you aren’t fully ready for.
  5. Hang out with friends/family you won’t be able to see for a while.
  6. Get TSA Pre-check if traveling and want to reduce stress at the airport.
  7. Do something fun you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while.
  8. Go grocery shopping and stock your pantry. If traveling consider a food subscription service or an amazon fresh order.
  9. Turn off your phone for an hour or part of the day to meditate/think and not be bothered.
  10. Read a book, watch a movie, see a concert…something to get inspired.
  11. Call/text a friend and share the news of your new mission.
  12. Charge your devices, pay your bills, water the plants…anything that you might forget.

Obviously this list could be expanded to include a variety of things. The important thing to focus on is getting your shit together because it will be almost impossible to take care of personal things on day three of production.

How to make sides in 30 seconds or less

Yes its possible! You can make sides in 30 seconds or less.

Imagine it’s 9:30PM on a Thursday and you’ve had a long day on set as the 2nd AD. You are about to wrap and are trying to get the call sheet sent out as soon as wrap is called so that everyone can go to sleep with the info for tomorrow. The UPM has asked that digital sides be sent out with the call sheet so you know that if anything changes it will be paramount that these sides are made quickly by whoever does them. The 1st AD has just informed you that yes indeed they are pushing a scene and adding a pickup. The sides need to be made or re-done quickly.

7 Steps to making sides in 30 seconds or less

  1. Choose a software that can make digital sides. Two of my favorite platforms for this purpose are Croogloo and Setkeeper. Both platforms are incredible for script distro, watermarking, creating sides and more…
  2. Upload your script to the platform. Once you decide on a platform you will need to upload a CLEAN version of the script to either platform. I prefer to go into final draft, select all, clear asterisks and save the version as a clean version. Seeing asterisks on sides is oftentimes unnecessary and can make it difficult to read.
  3. Decide what scenes will be in the sides. Usually the sides are listed on the shooting schedule or one-liner, or the advance on the call sheet. Most times there will be a small change or addition that only the 1st AD and 2nd AD know about. Its best to always check with the 2nd AD before making the sides.
  4. Select the sides in the program. Login to your software and jump into the side making section. Once you are there you can choose the scenes you want to make and the order you want to list them in. I typically prefer to list them in script order because it can be confusing to look for scene 1 at the end of the sides.
  5. Decide what format you need the arrows and shading. Within these programs you can decide whether or not to gray out the previous scenes or what type of arrows to use. Graying out can be helpful, however if you have a tight budget it can make the toner waist a lot of ink.
  6. Attach the front of the Call Sheet. This can be helpful so you don’t have to do this later.
  7. Download the sides as a pdf. You will be given the option to put one or two to page. In general I like to download one to a page because I can print two to a page in printer settings (if using a mac) pretty easily. Once you have downloaded the sides you can either attach the front of the Call Sheet or print them as is and then attach the front when its ready. The easiest way to attach the front of the call sheet is to drag the pdf into pdf viewer and then click save.