When is my Call Time?
You booked your first role! Whether it's as a speaking role or a background actor, it's very exciting to be on set, to see it all come together! To be a part of the magic of movie-making!
So much to know, bring, do.... but the one question that's most popular for first time bookers is the "When is my call time?" Ok - let's be honest, it's the #1 question for ALL Bookers at some point or other !
To which my response is normally, "I don't have that yet, but when I do, I will let you know!"
Let's take a peek behind the curtain to see what determines the CALL TIME. Once you understand the process, you will be able to understand WHY I don't have the call time at 10pm the night before you are suppose to be on set tomorow!
In a nutshell, the Call time is based on what time we wrap the current shoot day. There must be a certain amount of time between wrap and first call the next day. Therefore, you rarely will get a call time notification SOONER than 12-16 hours before you are suppose to be there (day before!). That's just the way it works - get used to it!
Without getting too specific, because this varies per production, and indie productions seem to push the limits on this ... but there are times that the 2nd AD is just really on top of things, and super organized (and I love them!) and they have a prelim schedule out at "lunch" - which is not necessarily lunch time in the "real world." They call me with tentative times, and I notify you of a specific call time for tomorrow.
So for this example scenario: I notify you at 3pm that your call time is 6am tomorrow. You confirm, we are all happy. Then it comes a flash flood, or the location has an issue, or someone doesn't come in prepared and we have to film 20 takes ..... there are a plethora of reasons that could cause production to run late. And then ... we are behind.... we don't wrap until 9pm, and so the call time for tomorrow is pushed, because we can't call the crew back in at 6am (under normal circumstances). So the time changes.
Or the opposite happens, everyone is super prepared, two take wonders, we speed through our day with no issues, and wrap early.... hey it does happen .... just not often! This could then cause us to have an EARLIER call time tomorrow because we got out early today!
So - you see how that works? It's based on what time we wrap the day/night before.
There are a few exceptions to this "rule" and these would be some of them:
- The location we are shooting "your scene" has a specific time we have to arrive or leave. For example, we have to be out by 3pm because they have a soccer game ... or whatever.... so things like this can cause us to have a firmer call time , because we can't run late.
- Another way I can SOMETIMES get them to give me a firm call time is if it's a large extras day, and extras will be used the entire time, and there is a certain time we can get in to the location. In this case, I can sometimes give you a time in advance and it won't change (too much!)
- Another exception would be an indie project that has just hired me to do a one day extras scene, and they give me all the details up front.
But all other situations and circumstances, you can just count on not knowing until the night before. So get everything together, mark it on your calendar, and be ready to go. Checking your email often for any updates.
Good rule of thumb - plan for early, and expect to stay late. A "full day" in movie lingo means 12 hours. We don't have bankers hours, and we are not 9-5'ers. But the more you do it, the more you will understand the process and some days will be short and sweet and others will be long and stenuous. The diversity is exciting, and the short days outweigh the long days in the grand scheme of things. But all in all - you are doing this because you are passionate about the biz. And when you are passionate about it, time flies .... the achy feet don't matter, and you have 7 alarms by your bedside to make sure you wake up in time!