Film Production is an intense experience. At times it's a war and war can get expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice to find some free solutions?
Editors Note: No Film School communicated with Prodigium Pictures about G-Casper and it's free services specifically asking them to write about the product and its functionality. This is not a paid promotion or advertisement. G-Casper is open-source and those behind it welcome comments and insights into ways to improve upon it.
The planning and organization involved in film and television production put tremendous stress on production teams. The invention of call sheets, spreadsheets, and other production infrastructure has made things easier.
But as with everything, there is always room for improvement. Especially at a price.
Call Sheets of today are nearly identical to the call sheets made in the 1980s. Some companies are still charging thousands to create these older stale models.
Today we're going to introduce you to the Call Sheet for the modern era.
The Call Sheet You Need Right Now... and Deserve!
The first significant step in updating Call Sheets and Production Management Software was made by the ThinkCrew team when they released a supercharged Excel spreadsheet called “Casper” in 2013 here on No Film School. Since 2013, nobody has touched it - we know this because we met with Michael R. Williams, one of the pioneering creators of the free call sheet.
Built out of the trials and tribulations of a multi-million dollar feature, our award-winning production company Prodigium Pictures has spent one year creating a streamlined, cloud-based, Google Sheet version of Casper, titled “G-Casper.”
And it is entirely free and open-source.
You can start using it NOW on all your projects. Read on to find out more about what you can do with your new free call sheet software.
What are G-Casper Call Sheets?
The brainchild of Prodigium Co-Founder and Producer Tobias Deml, and with significant help from development assistant, Joey Sperber, as well as interns Jonah Gercke and Vivian Li, G-Casper builds on Excel-based Casper.
But it goes far beyond that. It adds over 30 new automation features, 20 new error trackers, and a brand new look to enable a streamlined system fit for modern film production.
Why use G-Casper?
Production management architecture has been around since the early days of film. From hierarchies to paperwork, people have needed a way to make sure things are organized.
G-Casper places everything in one single google sheet with tabs that streamlines everything and talk to each other via algorithms.
For those of us who have done that it's a bit stressful.
As technology has progressed, more modern ways of keeping things together have popped up. Like Google Drive and Google sheets where everyone can share and work on the same documents simultaneously in real time.
This is crucial as pre-production and production are time sensitive and costly. It's about time this service was available to filmmakers, and it was available for free.
Instead of everyone relying on different templates, forms, and porting techniques for call sheets, crew sheets, schedules, etc. G-Casper places everything in one single google sheet with tabs that streamlines everything and talk to each other via algorithms.
This makes the organization and setting up process much faster, more accessible, and easier to understand.
Everyone in the film industry already knows what a call sheet is - it’s the standard day to day scheduling document. G-Casper takes that concept and implements it for all basic templates in the ecosystem of production management.
In pre-production, this is a blessing, but during shooting amidst crazy big set days with hundreds of people, this can be a life-saver.
Let’s take a look at G-Casper’s Automation
There is live synchronization between call sheets, cast and crew lists, production reports, and Exhibit G’s.
For instance, if you type in a crew name, they appear as a drop-down item on the back of the call sheet. Same with the breakdown sheet; you add a scene in the breakdown tab, and it becomes available as a drop-down scene number on the call sheet.
This saves a tremendous amount of time, especially if your 2nd AD has to bang out the call sheets by day’s end. The bug-tracking with pop-ups especially helps, as many details can be missed in the middle of a chaotic set day.
The importing of brilliant Casper engineering to Google Sheets and syncing everything together by Tobias has modernized the architecture entirely.
In the ever-increasing pace of film production and automation, many UPMs, POCs, and ADs often use Google Sheets and google drive in order to synchronize their work.
There is live synchronization between call sheets, cast and crew lists, production reports and Exhibit G’s
G-Casper brings the call sheet functionality to that ecosystem. There are auto-counts for food restrictions, auto-coloring for Day/Night and INT/EXT scenes, automatic weather and sun data, and even a function that decolorizes the call sheet so that you can save ink/toner on set.
How does G-Casper work on set?
As a film producer myself and managing partner at Prodigium, I was the first beta tester for the software. I used G-Casper on a few complex shorts and commercials, and I could already recognize its power.
My coordinators and ADs agreed. Shifting most of the manual input to pre-production, combined with the automation of G-Casper drastically reduced time in the workflow, allowing my team to focus on other production logistics and having less stress.
The bug trackers alerted me on email errors, whether an actor was accidentally called on a day where they were not needed, or when the information was in the wrong place. And because it was all in one place in a constellation of tabs, everything was extremely easy to oversee.
With so much paperwork and documents that exist already, there is a strong organizational need to keep everything in one place. It’s easy for production heads to look at this central sheet in order to make executive decisions.
The real test of G-Casper was using it mid-production in the thick of an intense day.
Using G-Casper under stress
I was in New York, shooting underneath sleet and snow conditions at night outdoors and we needed to rapidly get the call sheet out. The 2nd AD and I quickly bounced information into the call sheet using the drop-down menus, checked the crucial information and scenes for the next day on the breakdown sheets one tab away, and sent it out in time. Throughout the rest of the shoot, G-Casper proved to be a useful and efficient tool for the rest of the crew and kept things smooth.
As cameras, post-production tools and other gear have frequent technological updates, we can’t let the organizational systems that hold it altogether lag behind in 1980s tech - so we felt the need to update it.
Like Casper, G-Casper is open source and entirely free - and we can update it further - so we call on ADs, UPMs and tech fans in the film world who use it: If you have ideas for improvements or built your own extensions, we’re happy to test them and implement them once they’re stable.
At Prodigium, we do a lot of production services and co-productions, so this is why G-Casper was right in our wheelhouse. We’ve also built an entire family of other production management tools that add to G-Casper in a complete ecosystem.
That production management architecture includes payroll tracking, location management, crew, and cast management, importing of Movie Magic Budgets into actuals trackers and cost reporting tools - even a dashboard for producers to see how the cash flow and investor tranches are panning out in sync with everything else.
If you work with Prodigium to execute on a feature, TV or commercial project as your production services partner, we come with that proprietary production management architecture included.
If you want to try G-Casper for free today, check our link here.
Good luck, fellow producing soldiers!