Screenwriters & Actors

Hai guys ♥

Today I heard a segment of Frozen Lake read aloud by actors & I feel like I’ve grown more as a writer in those moments of listening than I have actually writing.

My university arranged for its screenwriters to hear their work read aloud by actors this morning.
This wasn’t the first time my university arranged a session like this for me and my fellow classmates.
Last year, in my second year of university, my screenwriting lecturer told us to write a two page scene to be read out by actors.

I crammed in as much as I could on those two pages – believing that if I put as much information down as I could it would be a better scene… somehow?

I was still very new to screenwriting at this stage and I ended up writing the short script very much like an extract from a book.

The actors read it out.
They looked to me. Shook their heads.
& said: waaaaaay too much description.

Lesson learnt.

This time we were allowed to hand over five pages and they had to be from the script we were submitting, in my case: Frozen Lake.

It was difficult to choose which ones.
I had a 100 page script and I had to pick only five pages?
The actors would read it cold too. No back-stories, no previous knowledge, nada.
So we had to try and pick a five page/five minute section that could stand alone.

My script is quite dialogue heavy so I decided to pick a five minute scene where the dialogue was unbroken and there was minimal action.

Very different reaction from last time.
The dialogue flowed nicely together.
The characters and their traits came across.
It was easy to follow, even with the lack of description.

But…

There was still one thing that the actors felt was amiss.

“Let me act.”

Let you act?

When writing a screenplay I always avoided using camera angles.
I never wanted to step on the D.O.P or director’s toes.
I also avoided using cuts as much as I could.
I never wanted to step on the editor’s toes.

So why had I thought it was okay to step on the actor’s toes?

Maya scowls.
Afon blinks.
Maya turns her head away.
Afon shrugs.

This was just my way of subconsciously controlling the actors.
Whoever plays Maya and Afon when I film Frozen Lake will know who these characters are, they will know how they will react in certain situations.
I didn’t have to state it. The actors can do it themselves.

I wasn’t the only writer in the room who fell into this pit.
Nearly every writer who’s work was read out was told this by the actors.

We as writers must respect actors and give them their own breathing room.
Allow them to be creative and use their craft to bring your characters to life.
Don’t restrict them with forced actions that take away the naturalness of dialogue, action and character.
Unless the action is essential to the story or has some meaning, chances are you don’t need it.

Don’t be a director.
Don’t be a D.O.P.
Don’t be an editor.
Don’t be an actor.
Be a writer ★

Film is a collaborative art.
It needs everyone’s individual creativity and role in order to work.

It’s not my film, it’s our film.

 

 

 

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