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
I’ve recently delivered the fourth and final draft of my first commissioned movie script. It’s a ten-minute animation
called DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, and deals with the titular character’s resistance to Hitler from within Germany.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was perhaps the world’s most unlikely dissident – a conservative and highly intellectual
theologian from a comfortable upper-middle-class German family. If the Nazis had not come to power Dietrich
would have spent his life as a respected but obscure university professor in Berlin. As it was he resisted Hitler for
an amazing twelve years, firstly by attempting to prevent the Nazification of the German Protestant church, and
eventually playing a minor part in Operation Valkyrie, the German plot to assassinate Hitler. He ended his life in a
concentration camp just weeks before the end of the war.
To tell the story I’ve used a mix of history and humour, with a James Bond joke, a Terry Gilliam reference and even Adolf Hitler going door-to-door with a collecting tin: “I wonder if you’d consider supporting the Nazi party? Our
policies are the extermination of the Jews and the Gypsies, the subjugation of the whole of Europe and the
enslavement of lesser races. No? Perhaps you’d take a leaflet?…”
Writing the script was a powerful experience, mining Dietrich’s amazing life for episodes that could be used
visually and to show the humanitarian principles he stood for. I’ll confess to in being tears sometimes, especially as I was writing the last pages.
The script was commissioned by The Lives of the Dissidents project – my deep thanks to Patrick Lavery there for
this opportunity. Pending funding, the film will go into production in 2015.
It’s called RIDERS ON THE STORM. It’s a sci-fi destruction thriller themed round an alien invasion and the er…
somewhat unusual resistance deployed by we Earthlings. And the feature-length screenplay is one of the quarter
This high-profile Hollywood scriptwriting competition describes itself thus: “Our exclusive panel of industry judges
are looking for scripts in all areas of horror, thriller, and suspense… All finalists will be listed in a special section of The Blood List and be exposed to top industry execs.”
I’m quite pleased about this.
The full list can be found here. I’m under ‘G’.