As developers begin creating apps for the production side of the film business, I’ve seen a focus on call sheet apps before other areas. (A call sheet is a form generated for every day of production with pertinent details about the schedule for the day.) I suppose this makes sense as everyone on the set — cast and crew — interfaces with the call sheet every day.
Last week, I looked at doddle Pro, which added some call sheet functionality to its production directory service. While the implementation was pretty good, I was interested to see what other apps had to offer.
Pocket Call Sheet from Snake Byte Studio does do exactly what it says. It allows you to enter information with your iPhone or iPad, and then it will email the call sheets to everyone listed in the call sheet. Besides a couple of small features, there’s unfortunately not much beyond that at this time.
All contact information must be pulled from your contacts on your iOS device. This makes some sense, since if you’re an Assistant Director or Production Manager, you’ll likely have everyone’s contact info in your Address Book/Contacts anyway. There is currently no way to manually enter in contact information from within the app. (The ability to enter in contacts manually would be good for things like extras and day players, day rentals (equipment, crew, labor, etc.). An extra bonus would be to have these manually entered contacts automatically stored into your contacts.) Once contacts are in, you can manually edit their board number, which is primarily important for cast.
Scene and location information can be entered manually and in the type of detail familiar to professional call sheets. Once call sheets are complete, they can be emailed to everyone on the call sheet and/or people on an “Additional” list — no emailing to departments or individuals that I could tell.
Creation of new call sheets for the same project pulls information from previous call sheets, saving you some re-entry time. The data entry is fine on an iPhone, but feels easier on an iPad.
The Call Sheet
The email it sends out is the classic call sheet form that I’m used to. Production forms should be simple and utilitarian. I don’t really want to see them cluttered with icons and colors and intrusive design. The simple, old-school table format works best for a form that changes every day and from which any person must be able to find information.
The downside is that the app generates a text/html-based email message. It does not generate a document — no PDF, no RTF, no proprietary digitally interactive format. It exists only in the body of the e-mail. This is the biggest thing that would prevent me from using this app over another.
Not only do I hold on to call sheets in my Dropbox for reference, but cast and crew also use call sheets as proof of work. Email is not a proper medium for the final life of the call sheet. It needs to be contained in a properly formatted document.
The Problem of Call Sheet Apps
One thing all call sheet apps suffer from at this point is the fact that you have to enter in all scene info manually. Importing from popular scheduling programs like Movie Magic or Celtx would make all of these call sheet apps MUCH more useful.
Moving production to the digital world is about efficiency. Honestly, if I have to input most of the information by hand, then I’m going to do it on my desktop in a program and document form I’m familiar with. That may not be as portable, but it’s easier and more versatile.
So, it could definitely be considered a bump up from filling out forms in Word or Pages, but I’m hoping future versions offer some more “smart” functions. If someone were asking my recommendation for creating call sheets, at this point, I’d still suggest using a desktop word processor and a standard call sheet template.
Photo Credit: Kristen Hillier