Our countdown goes on, with 66 days of summer to go before the season premiere of Heartland. But today -- once again -- I want to revel in the past. [Click through for more information]
Last week I said that July 18 (yesterday) was the half-decade anniversary of the start of production on Season One, Block One (July 17, 2007). As you know, Heartland has two episodes filmed in a 15-day production block, so today marks the 674th day of production since then... and today we issued the 674th call sheet.
A call sheet is the blueprint for the day of filming and it's issued the day before to everyone.
On our Facebook page I posted part of the very first Heartland call sheet. Many seemed to like it, so I thought I'd do that again with more detail. The two images here are the actual front page of the call sheet, with phone numbers and addresses removed. I've placed numbers in red beside items that are explained.
1 - This info is 2nd Assistant Director Martin Pedersen's added trivia for the cast and crew. It's not necessary -- but it's fun.
2 - Boldly the day is listed. This very first block had 17 days instead of the regular 15, because there were extra scenes to be inserted into the pilot (which was shot earlier). You may be surprised to know that neither Mallory nor Tim were in the original script, they were added later. Also, the current ranch set wasn't used in the pilot, so "establishing shots" of the current ranch were filmed. (Boy, I bet some of you are going to re-watch Episode 101 now!)
3 - This is when everyone is expected to be on the job. Estimated times are set for the entire block, but the actual time depends on how long it took to complete the previous day's work.
4 - Lunch is a set meal half-way through the work day. Although it's called "Lunch," it's a full meal prepared by production caterers who are on set every day to provide two major meals - breakfast at the start of the day and lunch. A well-fed crew is a happy crew!
5 - When the call sheet is drawn up the night before it has the most recent weather forecast, so crew can know if rain-gear, sun block or other things are needed.
6 - This is where contact information for the production office goes. I've removed the telephone and fax numbers as well as the address because you really don't need that.
7 - This is the list of Executive Producers, the Producer and the Production Manager. Like the main cast, these good folks haven't changed through 6 seasons!
8 - This explains where the location is for filming. I made slight adjustments to this, as one of them is a personal residence.
9 - This section details what scenes are being shot on the day.
10 - For example, this would be the 20th scene from the third episode.
11 - D/N means Day/Night. The episodes are not shot in order, so this is a reminder what day of the script is being filmed and whether it is Day or Night. If production is filming exteriors it is fairly obvious but if interior sets are being lit this is good information to have.
12 - Each page of script represents one minute of an episode. For production purposes each page is divided into eighths. This scene would've been 6/8 of a page or should roughly be 45 seconds in length when edited together.
13 - This is the numbered code for the actors. You will see more of this in the next image. Note - the letter "M" after a name means "Minor," meaning the actor is under 18 years old. There are rules governing how many hours a minor can work, and noting this on the call sheet helps in scheduling. An "X" after a number means that it will be the stunt double performing. It would be pretty hard for Ty to "tear along the road" when Graham Wardle did not yet know how to drive a motorcycle. And a "P" after a cast means that a photo double is used. Because there was no acting scenes on the day involving Ashley (#8) a double was used to ride behind Ty. If you use a photo double then the actor doesn't have to be brought in.
14 - A "Target of Opportunity" is a scene that has to be shot and would've been scheduled for a later day, but if the team gets ahead of the schedule then they will shoot extra scenes. On a production time is money, which is why everything is planned out with great care.
15 - This is the total number of pages being shot on the day. Almost five pages on Day 1, so that would translate to just under 5 minutes of completed screen time. It doesn't sound like a lot, but on a major feature film they sometimes will only schedule to get one minute a day!
This image is that part of the call sheet going directly below the earlier image.
15 - Same as above. I put the number in again to better help you picture the call sheet.
16 - This lists the characters used in the day's scenes. This is where you identify which character is represented by which number. NOTE - Ty and Val have different names from what we all know them as. This is because when you create a character you have to get clearance to use a specific name. There are a variety of reasons why a name may not be available. Ty Baldwin and Val Grant were two of these, so the names were soon changed on Heartland to Borden and Stanton.
17 - This lists the actors who play each of the characters.
18 - Lots of codes and abbreviations here. The first column is the status of the person listed. "S" means Starts, "W" means Working and "F" means Finishes. On the first day a performer works the S will appear, while on their last day the "F" appears. All days they work, including the first and last, will have a "W." These are all needed for payroll purposes.
The next column details their start time, which is different from the general crew call. PU/SD means Picked Up or Self Drive. Some cast are picked up by production transport and driven to set, while other actors will drive themselves. The following column has when they are to be in H (Hair) M (Makeup) and W (Wardrobe) and the last column is when they are to be ready to show up on set.
19 - The background performers and Stand-Ins are just that. Performers without lines or without character names do not have to be given a number for their character. These are sometimes known as "extras." The stand-ins are a very important part of production. These are performers who stand in for the actual actors after the blocking of a scene. While the actors are getting changed into their costumes and getting touch ups on their hair and make up the stand-ins remain on set and are there for the camera crew to use when the shot is being composed and set up. Although they're never seen on screen they play a valuable role.
20 - This lists the different departments and details what is needed from each. For example, next to ANIMALS you see that there are three horses needed on the day, and it details which scenes they are needed in. These are the details that the crew has to be made aware of.
21 - Special Notes and Instructions are exactly that. With all the moves that are needed over the course of a block, this brings attention to particular situations that the crew must be made aware of. This is a good place to list those.
22 - This details the walkie-talkie channels used. Sometimes itls quite a distance between set and the circus (the area where the production trailers, trucks and work vehicles are located) and constant communication is needed, so good old fashioned walkie-talkies are used.
At the bottom of the page is a listing of all the cell phone numbers for the assistant directors, the production manager and the locations manager but again -- you really don't need that.
The back of the call sheet identifies every single member of the crew by name, what department they are in and when they are to arrive on set, which is sometimes different from the regular call time. Also on the back will be a scene list for the following day(s) of production.
So that's my primer to you about what a call sheet is, how it works and what it is for. I hope this gives you some idea of how production operates.
I do want to add one thing from the first page that someone on Facebook asked about.
Someone asked what "Full Blue" and "Full Pink" meant, as it referred to each episode. I will make this as short as possible. When a first draft of a script is written it is issued on white pages. Then the director, producers, actors and broadcaster make notes, which the writer(s) then use to make changes to improve the script. The changes are done on pink pages and if there are less than half the pages being changed, then these pages are issued and everyone will insert them into their white script after first removing the white pages for the scenes that have been rewritten. If more than half the pages are being changed then a "full pink" script is issued. If more revisions are needed beyond that
then more colours are added. I hope that answers that question.
Speaking of answers, Monday's Time Killer was tough for some of you. Good! They can't all be easy. If you are looking for the correct answers, check out the comments section under the puzzle and you will see that Allison got most of them right. Rung 10 was ERROL (Errol Flynn was a movie star in the 1940s and Errol Morris is a famous documentary filmmaker), and Rung 33 should read LENIN.
Watch for another Time Killer on Monday.
I hope you found today's blog interesting. Half a decade! That's 5 years with more to come. Not too many productions can brag about that! And remember, without the audience there just ain't no show, so collectively pat yourselves on the backs, because it is you the faithful that keeps this dog barking (so to speak!)
Until next week,
Tick... tick... tick...