A couple of posts ago I talked about my agenda for the script read through. It worked well. So here is a slightly adjusted and updated version of my advice on how to run a good script read through or script reading. In short - how to make the most out of a performed reading.
1 - Cast people for the read through. Get people with an insight into the characters. So cast for this task, rather than for the final film.
2 - Break the script down into smaller parts of about 10-15 pages.
3 - Before each part outline the character development and plot points within it. Where is it going, why and how.
4 - Read through all the scenes in that part in one go. Record it!
5 - Each actor to outline how their character would feel at that end point. Do they say what you think they should say? Remember that you, as director, can worry about the audience. Each actor to offer feedback from their character's perspective.
6 - 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.
7 - Repeat for all 8 parts. Then finish.
8 - 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?
My biggest learning experience was actually around point 1. I got it right this time but t was part by design and part by luck - next time I would definitely plan it from the off. It is about getting the right people. Obvious I know. But who are the right people? To me, now upon the reflection, it is people with a real insight into the world and the characters. People who bring more than just acting ability (although they have that) they bring experiences personal to them and relevant to the story. Obviously you need to make sure that you have a good handle on the themes and direction of the script in order to field any feedback rather than get overwhelmed.
So for Chloe (a character who is a young female classical musician lured by the prospect of fame as a classical pin up) I had Sarah reading the part - who is in a girl band. She brings an insight into having to weigh up the choice of being taken seriously against knowing that provocative poses get you publicity.
For Archie and Howard (2 salesmen fading away in the recession) I had Mark Freestone and Nick Meaney. Mark has worked with me on corporate gigs playing similar roles. Nick has done script readings in Hollywood, is an acting tutor and worked in sales for many years. Both guys offered solutions to problems, rather than just taking feedback.
Reading the narration and offering feedback was Nick Williams who is also an acting advisor and someone with a good angle on characters within stories. He put his finger on several issues in a succinct manner - saying that with a some small set up changes character decisions many pages later would make more sense. He was right.
On reflection having these people there made the most difference. I would recommend trying hard to make sure you get as good a fit.
Photographs by Georgina Hurcombe - recommended if you need some glamourous shots