I have two screenplays (horror and sci–fi) I want to take to market. Before I do so, however, I want to make sure they are the best they can be. Part of my plan is to use table reads – the perfect opportunity to discover some unspeakable dialogue or clunky exposition. I want to record the read on audio.
I’ve never done a table read. So, what I’m looking for are the protocols / best practice:
1) I can’t pay anyone, so what should I offer as basics (food, drink etc.)?
2) Other than the usual registering of the scripts, are there any legal issues? Should I ask everyone participating to sign a waiver saying they have no legal claim on the table read performance and recording, and/or a NDA? Any examples of relevant pro formas that do the job without being intimidating?
3) Scripts – distributed as hard copies or as electronic copies? Should I expect actors to print out their scripts or print them for them?
4) How should I cast for the roles? Invite people to contact me, send them a script sample, and listen to them over the phone? (For a table read it’s the voice that counts, not the physical appearance of the actor.) Or is there a better way? Skype? Something else? What would you prefer? Should I post a list of roles and ask actors to ‘pitch’ for one or the other?
5) I think I should start the read by asking everyone present to give their name, the name of the character they are playing, and a one-line description of the character, starting with the leads. Good idea?
6) Should scripts be marked up in any way? Or will actors do that themselves?
7) Should I ‘direct’ the read? Stop the proceedings and ask an actor to read in a certain way? Or let it flow?
8) Pre-read briefing for all actors around the table (for tone, style, etc.). Good idea?
9) Anything else I’ve missed?
And now it gets weird. Anyone ever done a VIRTUAL table-read, with everyone sitting at home?
The reason I ask is because I live in the middle of nowhere, in a country where few speak English.
I’m therefore wondering if the technology would allow me to do a virtual table read, with actors from around the world sitting in the comfort of their own homes. Anyone ever done anything like that?
Any thoughts you have will be greatly appreciated. firstname.lastname@example.org