On the job, reading scripts
I read my first script today. Well not technically the first, but my first script as a PROFESSIONAL in the film industry.
It’s an upcoming project for Yellow Brick Films and it is a horror/thriller, the one I was doing research for a few days ago. We’ve already ascertained that this genre is not my strong suit, but reading a script whilst thinking “how will we make this work, where will we find this location, who will play this character” is very different to seeing the end product with the special effects, clever editing, eerie soundtrack and gruesome visuals all rolled frighteningly together with the intent to make me squeal and squirm.
Being such a novice and with only one previous script read under my belt, my friend Richard Gray’s early version of Summer Coda in 2006, I wasn’t really sure how I should approach the task.
- Should I just read and read and read my way through the hundred odd pages of Courier New typfaced script or pace my way through it with loo breaks and coffee pit stops?
- Should I read it onscreen or print it out?
- Should I make notes, comments and suggestions as I read?
- Should I proof read it (I am a pretty talented proof reader and usually struggle to hold back proofing urges all the time, particularly when reading restaurant menus) and pick up the typos?
- Should I read it while munching on popcorn, just to get in the cinema swing of things?
In the end I read it onscreen (common sense and frugality dictated that I wasn’t going to print out 100 pages if I was paying for the ink cartridges). I read it all in one two-hour lounge session on the couch with an already brewed pot of coffee and only small breaks to get some chocolate and respond to a message on Skype from a friend with “Am reading Richie’s script for a horror/thriller right now, otherwise I’d suggest getting on for a chat” and to tell my brother to be quiet because I was working (even though it looked like a big old internet surf session).
My long-held aversion to the Courier New font was overcome. For some reason it did not bother me one iota, far unlike receiving email replies in that font after my messages in clear and simple Arial. I think that font just works for scripts. So I will accept the industry standard font and embrace it … but only for scripts.
I made some notes as I went, marking down the page numbers with my questions such as “Is this mystery character Amanda I haven’t read about before supposed to be Claire, did she have a name change?” and making a couple of brief comments. Not even a page though. I mostly immersed myself into the script, cheering on the bad decisions the characters always make in a horror film. Only once did my concentration waver, and I put that down to a crick in my back caused from un-ergonomic posture on the couch.
So now I’m excited. I’m revved up and ready to make a movie, even if it is one that might scare me half to death at the end, or bludgeon me to a bloody pulp in the process.