Sunday, 16 May 2010

Did you hear that?

I've been a bit quiet of late, mainly due to being quite busy and/or unwell. I had a virus, then a cold, then thought I was getting better so went back to work, and am now worse with flu. So I'm doing all the right things; resting (i.e catching up on TV and movies) drinking hot drinks and taking paracetamol. But I find that if I don't write something I still get a bit antsy. My head is far too fuzzy for any constructive work but I thought I'd chance a little blog. (So please excuse any incoherence)

As the DOUGH script nears completion (as much as any script ever does) we decided to have a read through. The only previous experience I've had of this sort of thing was with THE STORYTELLER at the International Emmys. On that occasion half a dozen Broadway actors brought my words to life... whilst I just sat there in a surreal daze trying to take it all in. So although I don't think either John, Jonathan or myself would claim to have much in the way of acting skills, we gamely set about the task. They took on the two leads and I read all the rest. And it was an incredibly useful exercise.

For one thing, if you read in a natural, evenly paced way, you build up a momentum and you can really see the rhythm of a script in a way you might not have done before. Scene to scene, whole sequences or even just enclosed in one scene, you get an idea of what is flowing and working, and what is not. Also, people tend to read what they think is there on the page, rather than what is. It may be small changes and nuances, but the gut, instinctive line of dialogue tends to be better and more natural than the one you originally wrote.

I plan on having a reading of all my scripts now. All you need is a few friends, get some snacks in, and you'll probably all have a laugh. And you might just learn something about the script you've been slaving over for a few months but that has never been lifted off the page. Yes there is a certain amount of exposure in this. You're laying it all out there, and putting it on the line. But we all know a thick skin is an absolute necessity in this business anyway. So just do it. And if it's crap, don't blame the would be actors. Think about why it didn't sound out loud like it did in your head. If you can be honest with yourself it will make the next draft so much better, so much sharper, and having gone through the reading, you'll be all the more confident about it.

Now hand me those tablets and put the kettle on again, please.

5 comments:

Adaddinsane said...

Vitamin C, dammit.

Lots of it.

Get the 1000mg fizzy ones.

Put a small amount of boiling water in a glass, drop in two fizzy Vit Cs.

This will now foam and pour out a sort of steam making it look like something from an ancient Jekyll and Hyde movie.

Excellent.

When dissolved add cold water - or I prefer fresh orange juice.

Drink.

It will hit you like a slice of lemon inside a gold brick.

Repeat every couple of hours.

You will discover that you can now think, and will feel a lot better.

(The only possible side effect of huge amounts of Vit C is a bit of diarrhoea.)

IANAD or an N.*

(* Doctor or Nutritionist - but I know what works for me and people I know.)

And today's verification word is "thnisme" - definition: What I am not.

Jez Freedman said...

oh I do take Vitamin C - but not the all singing all dancing ones you do. So might give that a try. I take echinacea too. But I think that works best when you begin to feel unwell but have not succumbed yet. I kinda missed the boat this time

Dave said...

Read throughs are great. I do them now on all my scripts (although my one for NYE fell through before I had to submit it)however I remember reading a post by Jane Espenson that you should try and get your hands on the best actors available to you. This is because if you use Doug From The Bookies you may think that parts of your screenplay suck rather than the fact Doug's just a crap actor and can't deliver a line. Although Doug is great at telling you who to bet a monkey on at the ten past three race from Doncaster.

John said...

Thanks for this, Jez. I wanna do a read.through now!! Makes SO much sense.

Jez Freedman said...

you're welcome. it does and it's fun too.

by the way i thought your Coming Up blog was excellent. I'm not entering this year but thought the post was superb