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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Script read through

I am probably going to do a script read through of Circumference, my feature length script, soon. As I mentioned before I feel that the impact of the recession means that, with an appropriate rewrite, this story could be better than ever.

We may shoot it soon, we shall see what cash can be scraped together. But whatever happens I am keen to do this read through to make the script the very best it can be.

So, what is a read through?

Also called a 'script read' the name describes itself quite well, Get together some people, preferably actors, and read the script aloud. This is different to a 'rehearsal' in that you won't be using the real cast, probably. A full rehearsal with the final cast is much more about taking the final script and directing it into a performance that is needed for the film. We are at a stage before that. The 'read through' is about trying to get from one draft to an almost final draft.

I've not done one before however. With shorts you don't normally need to bother. Shorts are generally about a single incident and only have a single main plot. On the whole it doesn't seem a good investment of time and money to get a few people in one place to read 10 pages aloud.

With a feature however it probably is. First of all you have 100 pages to work through. Much more worth it. Dialogue read out loud is often different to dialogue written down. Hearing it NOT as it sounds in your own head can reveal all sorts of things. NOW is the time to get it right. If it sounds wrong then consider it now, change it now, while there is time - rather than panic on the set - or even in the edit suite. But by going through, in one day, the whole script then it also becomes about checking and working on longer term character issues, emotional development, rationales and deciding if the balance of the main plot and the sub-plot is right. You get a taste of the whole story in one go - something that won't happen again until the first off-line edit.

My plan for my read through is this:

1 - Outline the characters to the actors and explain how I have broken the script down into 8 parts.
2 - Before each of the 8 parts outline the character development and plot points within it. Where is it going, why and how.
3 - Read through all the scenes in that part in one go.
4 - The actors to outline how their characters would feel at that end point. Do they say what I think they should say?
5 - Go back through the most awkward scenes and improv together some other dialogue if necessary - trying different lines that help the characters to reach those emotional points in the most efficient and entertaining way.
6 - Repeat for all 8 parts. Then finish.
7 - Reflect overall on the pace. What where the low points where it dragged? Did it go over the same ground too often? Where did it feel exactly right?

That is my track. If others have a different way they would recommend then please leave a comment. I'm open to try different ways.

As mentioned before on the blog companies like iScript do a varition on this by reading out your script and sending you an mp3. But this, I feel, lacks the two way element. You can't do step 5. However it is much easier to manage if you are writer and don't plan or want to be a director.

The picture is The Rehearsal by Frederick M. Spiegle from here.

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