One of the most exciting moments in any actor’s life is booking a film. This is the moment that years of training and dreams come to fruition; however, there are likely aspects about the actual process of acting in a film that have never been discussed or thought about. One of these is the initial reading of the script.
The initial reading is when all lead actors, the director and other important crew members sit and read through the script. This exciting moment can be marred if you do not follow proper protocol.
I remember my very first initial reading. I was excited, nervous and anxious about the forthcoming three hours. While I knew that we would read through the script, I was never taught the “rules” of this type of setting. While the first script reading is typically informal and relaxed, there are certain tips you should follow. Below I have cultivated my top tips regarding the initial read-through.
This is a common tendency for young actors. They are at the read through and believe that this is still an audition. While you should put an adequate amount of emotion behind your words, do not think that you have over-act your performance. The goal of the initial read-through is to become familiar with not only the script, but also your fellow actors.
Don’t Act Out Descriptive Copy
Many scripts offer copy blocks where actions of the character are placed. While it may be tempting to actually “act out” the scene with movements, this is not necessary and can distract from the goal of the read-through, which is to work with the words, not your movement.
Know When to be in Character
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at an initial read-through only to hold back my laughter as an actor remains in character throughout the entire read-through. While this is an excellent quality (it shows dedication), it is not necessary. A wise acting coach once told me, “Only become ‘alive’ when it is your turn to speak.”
If you have a character that has a lot of nonverbal activity within a scene, ask the director if he wants you to actually perform some of this movement. Sometimes the director will request you stay still while other times you may be requested to perform portions of the actions if it is vital for the scene. If you have a question about whether or not you should actually act out your non-verbal action cues, simply ask the director.