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Old 03-17-2015, 07:15 PM   #16
Sweetie
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You can't get to where Sweetie mentioned until the fairly FINAL script is in place. That meeting IS NOT the place to be writing the script. What Sweetie mentioned is what happens when you have a final script. They had worked out wardrobe and set locations. Yes, there will be minor changes as he mentions. And it is great to have everyone meet. But everyone is fairly clear to the story and only adding enhancements. It's not a time to 'flesh out your scripts'.
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The time of talent and crew IS valuable.
I had assumed that the script would have been mostly locked down. If you have a large budget locking the script down isn't as important.

As for time being valuable, this is the reason for the table read(s). It's one of the most efficient methods where multiple people can ask questions, work out characters, interactions and sometimes it's the first time big plot holes (from those who aren't as close to the script as the director, producer and writer) can be revealed.

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Not all actors are good at improvisation.
But this is not an effective tool to make movies since we had no way to go back and re-create it for multiple angle takes. We acted within the moment and it was unscripted.
This depends highly on the directors style. Some love it, others hate it. I love improvisation and improvement ideas during pre-production as it can spark great ideas and cause changes that can make productions stronger.

For me, on set, improvisation is death. For me, particular ideas have a time and a place. When on set, you're often fighting the clock and unexpected changes hurt that. In my opinion, alterations should be saved for problem solving. Combining improvisations on top of problem solving can cause unexpected problems down the line. It doesn't mean that I don't like to hear good ideas on the day, though if you're on the final coverage for the scene, an idea of "Hey, we should try the scene like this" won't go down too well.

Some directors thrive in uncontrolled, chaotic environments.

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I think I'll go with what Sweetie suggested, doing a combination of a table read and a rehearsal.
Please don't take that as my suggestion. It was not a suggestion of mine. It was my observation that what you were describing seemed like a combination of those two separate phases of pre-production.

While combining phases together may seem like an efficient use of time, more often than not, altering methods that have been developed over time may have unexpected results. Imagine the look on APE's face if a producer declares that we'll be doing post audio at the SAME TIME as we're doing the visual rough cut so we can be more efficient.

A table read has a specific purpose and focus for all involved, as does rehearsals and blocking. The purposes and focuses are different.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
Please don't take that as my suggestion. It was not a suggestion of mine. It was my observation that what you were describing seemed like a combination of those two separate phases of pre-production.

While combining phases together may seem like an efficient use of time, more often than not, altering methods that have been developed over time may have unexpected results. Imagine the look on APE's face if a producer declares that we'll be doing post audio at the SAME TIME as we're doing the visual rough cut so we can be more efficient.

A table read has a specific purpose and focus for all involved, as does rehearsals and blocking. The purposes and focuses are different.
OK, it wasn't your suggestion, and I note what you said. So should I do a table read, then rehearsal? Please remember that my goal, for now, is to make short films, then see where I go from there.

This link on rehearsals seem pretty good, especially with low-budget productions.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:39 PM   #18
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Is this process what you want for the short film or your TV series or something completely different?

What I suggest is sitting down with your director and working out what they need to get the best end result. The requirements may be altered slightly depending on their needs and/or the needs of the material.

What is the purpose of the short? How important is the end result to you etc.

Personally, I'd start with the table read. It's an effective method to figure out if there are holes that you aren't aware of or questions that need to be researched. It can also give you time to digest ideas that are given. Those changes may or may not be good.

If you've made a significant number of changes (more than cosmetic) have another table read.

Then get into rehearsals where the director works with actors to develop their characters and their performance.

About half way through the rehearsal process, get into the blocking.

Late in the rehearsals, get the camera/dop in to see the blocking so they can get an idea of what they'll need to shoot.

Within all this, you have fittings, camera tests, audio tests, make up tests and so on. If the wardrobe is ready, you may also invite sound to the late rehearsals so they can start planning solutions to sound issues.

This won't work for every production. It's often you A). won't have the schedule to allow this and B). don't have time to lay out the location layouts on the floor and C). You may not already have locations locked. The trick is to to the best with what you have.

Some directors and actors don't like to over rehearse and others will insist on rehearsals until it's perfect. Some directors won't block until they reach the set. This is why it's essential to sit down with your director to work out what they need for their process. You may be designing a method that just doesn't work for that person.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:18 PM   #19
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That article is quite good. For a feature film with a decent budget
that method may work for some directors and actors. Not really
practical for a short.

The table read and the rehearsal precess are two, very different
things. There are even different types of table reads. Where you
are Mogul a table read would be great so you can hear how your
words sound as they are interpreted by actors. Then you can go
back and do the necessary rewrites. You don't need a rehearsal
at this stage. It fine to shoot the table read if you like.

Then when you have hired a director and the cast and have set your
shooting days you may want to have a rehearsal day. As Sweetie
says it really depends on the director and the actors. A short usually
doesn't need (nor can afford) a day of rehearsals. Even half a day.
In most cases the scene will be rehearsed, blocked and lit in the day
of the shoot.

Of course if you as the Mogul want to pay for a rehearsal day that is
your prerogative.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:40 PM   #20
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The short films are to build my experience as an Aspiring Mogul, and also to get to know people in the business.

These will form the basis for my web series, and, perhaps, one day, the basis for a series of low-budget movies. And then, we'll see. That's my life's goal.

If there are different types of table reads, then maybe just going through the motions while reading the script may give me an idea, because, remember, I have not shot a frame of film in my life.

Thanks, Rik and Sweetie, for your input - I really appreciate your help.
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Old 03-17-2015, 11:11 PM   #21
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If there are different types of table reads, then maybe just going through the motions while reading the script may give me an idea
As mentioned before, each step in the process has different benefits and focuses, depending on who is going through the process. The table read for the actors is different than it is for say a producer and or the writer (if the writer sits in on the read).

For the actors it's an opportunity to get to know the material and their character better, get familiar and comfortable with the other actors and the director. Let them ask questions if appropriate etc.

The director can have a focus on both getting to know the actors, helping them trust him/her, answering questions or even help to fix issues with the story s/he may not be aware of.

The writer can help give a deeper understanding of the material if appropriate and/or make appropriate changes.

At the short film level, this is unlikely to all be true.
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Old 03-17-2015, 11:51 PM   #22
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As mentioned before, each step in the process has different benefits and focuses, depending on who is going through the process. The table read for the actors is different than it is for say a producer and or the writer (if the writer sits in on the read).
In the present case, it's to help an aspiring mogul get his feet wet, and that would include fleshing out his scripts and getting experience in filming.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:03 AM   #23
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You can either learn by doing or learn by learning.

One thing that film making has taught me. It's a combination of the two that gives the best results. Learn something, try it out. Fail. Learn from that failure. Improve. Repeat. Stories are hard to get right. Really hard. There are so many moving parts.

It's not really relevant to the current thread though.

Rehearsals and table reads are there to help a production, not to help teach a mogul.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:27 AM   #24
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AspiringMogul, I think you're getting the same message from all of us. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish when you say 'fleshing out the script'.
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Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
I had assumed that the script would have been mostly locked down.

As for time being valuable, this is the reason for the table read(s). It's one of the most efficient methods where multiple people can ask questions, work out characters, interactions and sometimes it's the first time big plot holes (from those who aren't as close to the script as the director, producer and writer) can be revealed.
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The table read and the rehearsal precess are two, very different things. There are even different types of table reads. Where you are Mogul a table read would be great so you can hear how your words sound as they are interpreted by actors. Then you can go back and do the necessary rewrites. You don't need a rehearsal at this stage. It fine to shoot the table read if you like.

Then when you have hired a director and the cast and have set your shooting days you may want to have a rehearsal day.
If you only have an idea for scenes but no script, you really don't have a 'table read'. It's an improv session to get ideas how to write the script. In this case, you probably wouldn't need to film it since the purpose is to generate ideas. You won't be doing any actual blocking. However, you probably should do an audio recording to capture dialogues.

If you have a tentative script, you can do a table read with friends. As mentioned, it's a good way to work out plot holes, develop characters, etc. It's best to bring the director on as soon as possible. You have an entire sci-fi world with characters that need to be fleshed out. This is really more like a writer's group issue initially. You are generating background, dialogue and characters. You could do this with the actual actors though it's easier to not bring too many chefs into the kitchen.

When you have a script you're prepared to actually film (a 'final script' though it's likely to be revised), then you need your director to work with your cast and crew. This is where the 'table read' tends to blur into a 'rehearsal'. The productions with table reads have gone much smoother on set. But again, re-emphasizing Sweetie's and my point, pre-production scene changes are less chaotic than on-the-set changes. When the script is constantly changing, it forces the director and actors into uncomfortable positions. I was in that situation on set where three actors had three different versions of the script. Dialogues and actions had been changed. It delayed production.

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Originally Posted by Aspiring Mogul View Post
The short films are to build my experience ... [and] form the basis for my web series, and, perhaps, one day, the basis for a series of low-budget movies. And then, we'll see. That's my life's goal.

If there are different types of table reads, then maybe just going through the motions while reading the script may give me an idea, because, remember, I have not shot a frame of film in my life.
At least at this juncture if you're unsure about the scenes, a table read with friends will help generate some ideas. Once the script is more solid, the reading with the actors will give you a better feel of what the film will be like. Starting into a project without a script in hand is risky. It doesn't have to be treated as if written in stone, but it needs to be solid enough that it can be used for budget, scheduling and story. That's production mogul 101.

It's an interesting discussion but a bit tangential for screenwriting. You may get additional feedback in the Pre-Production forum. As I understood your question, "Can I use a 'table read' to write the script for scenes?" That's essentially a chicken-or-egg question. Technically you 'table read' a finalized script but you can brainstorm or improv scenes ("acting out scripts") that can be translated into a scripted format.

As Sweetie suggests, try it. See what works. Fleshing out the script via improv can be novel. Though frankly, I think it would work better to bring on a collaborator or writer/director to develop the story in a more directed rather than haphazard fashion. It would save time. Trying to schedule a table read with multiple people can be vexing given schedule conflicts. Whereas working with one person is far simpler. Remember, time is precious, theirs and yours! Good luck.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:48 AM   #25
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FSF and Sweetie,

The scripts are done, at least for short scenes and/or short films. The standard for a web episode, as I understand it, is from 3-10 minutes, though one internet distributor apparently wanted 15 minutes. In any case, I can several 5 minutes shorts in my sci-fi franchise, and, quite honestly, a time is coming when I want to film, come what may.

I guess the acting out/improvs/quasi-rehearsals are really to see if my scenes work, and to develop my skills as a producer. Of course, I may also want to get a professional screen writer on board, to polish my work.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:48 AM   #26
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If you only have an idea for scenes but no script, you really don't have a 'table read'.
100% agree. I made my comments with the assumption that the script was not only drafted, but developed.

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It's an improv session to get ideas how to write the script.
Improv is rehearsal (NOT table read) can be a good exercise to create a trusting environment where the actors feel safe and comfortable to fail. I cannot see where Improv in the table read is a good idea.

Most actors (not all) don't make strong writers. First drafts are rarely great. Re-writing is where it's at. To me, improv for writing seems to be the worst of both worlds.

I sense we're on the same page here.

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If you have a tentative script, you can do a table read with friends.
I'd suspect a brainstorming session would be better, though probably what you were meaning.

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pre-production scene changes are less chaotic than on-the-set changes
Very important.

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When the script is constantly changing, it forces the director and actors into uncomfortable positions.
Oh man, I have a story for you. There was some sort of test shoot, trial, audition... I really don't know what you'd call it. I've never seen it before or since... Took friggin ages. Anyway, cutting a long story short, the two lead actresses were told, quite out of the blue "Ok, now you two kiss each other". The director found himself without a cast and crew virtually immediately. Improv for the win

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That's production mogul 101.
I think there is room to move on this subject, though it doesn't always turn into the best product. There is value in flexibility. I do prefer your method.
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:41 AM   #27
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I guess the acting out/improvs/quasi-rehearsals are really to see if my scenes work, and to develop my skills as a producer.
I'm going to suggest something. Take it or leave it. I think you really need to go out there and shoot something. For now, it doesn't really matter what. Get out there and shoot something. Go through the process of shooting, editing and so on. It doesn't have to be good. Hell. Expect it to stink, but strive for it to be good.

I think you need to get some experience under you belt.

If I remember right, rik offered to come to you and shoot a small thing with you. You'd be well advised to take him up on it. Learn to do and grow. You're never going to know where you need to improve if you don't know where you're currently at.
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:55 AM   #28
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I'm going to suggest something. Take it or leave it. I think you really need to go out there and shoot something. For now, it doesn't really matter what. Get out there and shoot something. Go through the process of shooting, editing and so on. It doesn't have to be good. Hell. Expect it to stink, but strive for it to be good.

I think you need to get some experience under you belt.
I think you're right.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:35 PM   #29
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Sweetie, I believe we are in full agreement. Just to clarify, I think you misunderstood my point when you wrote "Improv is rehearsal (NOT table read) can be a good exercise to create a trusting environment where the actors feel safe and comfortable to fail."

What I was saying is without a script, it's purely improv. If you have no script but only an idea sketch of the scene and characters, it isn't a table read. I think it's rather risky asking actors to take the idea and create an improv based on the elements and then record that to make the script. You can't rehearse what hasn't been created in the first place. So in that sense, improv is not a rehearsal/bonding tool but a script creation tool, which I feel is a very bad idea. That was my point. It shouldn't be "make it up as you go and record it" which is what I interpreted him to mean from his original post to use actors to "flesh out the script" from just an idea.

If a producer says, "This takes place in a bar. Okay, you're going to be mad that she cheated on you. And she's going to be mad because you cheated on her. You don't know it's with your brother's wife. I want to tape this scene a couple ways then decide which I like and write it down. Go at it." That's not a table read nor a rehearsal. It's pure improv or by a stretch, a scene study. Even more problematic, who is technically the author of such a script? The actors? The transcriber? If you aren't paying the actors, it's not a work-for-hire. It becomes a copyright nightmare.

I recognize that 'improv' is one of those words with different degrees of meaning depending on context. I meant it in the sense of creating new, unscripted responses within a defined scene and role without direction (since there's no director on board). Most directors use it more as 'put your own spin on the material as you think your character would react'. There, it is a more constrained freedom to explore how the dialogue is delivered and actions are expressed but still within context of a defined script. And often with guidance. I think we both agree on the need for an approach that allows for some flexibility.

@AspiringMogul
If you have the scripts, just go for it. My suggestion, if you have 2-3 episodes, would be to do a read through of all of them in one go. That will better help you catch plot and continuity issues and give a better sense of the characters. It is surprising how many times an actor catches something like "but I thought my character was just ..." between episodes. Sometimes as a writer, director and producer, you get to close to a script and need that outside eye. Especially if episodes are developed individually over time.

In your case, since you have some scripts, select and meet with the actors to run the lines ('table read') for issues. If there are, do a rewrite and send it out. For a 5-10 minute short, you don't need lots of elaborate back and forth. You should be good to shoot the first episode. What you learn from that can then be funneled back into your next few episodes.

Filming a series entails thinking a little differently than thinking for a narrative in terms of production planning. It sometimes means filming multiple elements from different episodes at the same time. If you think of each episode as standalone, it can sometimes work against your production value if you don't have a controlled studio environment.

My only other suggestion is to plan your shoots to take advantage of spaces that overlap in time in your scripts. So if something happens in episode one on the patio and we pick that up in episode two at the same time (a plot continuation), shoot those two scenes on the same day, even if different episodes. It's nearly impossible to duplicate lighting and other conditions to re-create that sense of continuity on a no/lo budget. Especially for outdoor shots. This is where working through the first three episodes and planning your shoots with an experienced director/dp will save you headaches and make the edited episodes feel more believable. And if you have the good fortune to work with Directorik, that is a great learning opportunity.
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Old 03-18-2015, 02:59 PM   #30
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What I was saying is without a script, it's purely improv.
I'd like to add, in my opinion, a table read without a script is a waste of time. But yes, essentially I agree.
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