Acting : Learning movie script by Brandon Koots

Brandon Koots

Learning movie script

I was wondering. If you are the lead role in a 120 minutes movie, how is the best way to learn the script? All of it in 1 time? Or scene by scene? or how?

Ami Brown

Scene by scene is best, since you are relying on other actors for your queues. But if you have some long monologues, memorize them early on so you are really comfortable when it comes to shooting. There is usually rehearsals as well so help with that. But the night before, you should get the call sheet with the scenes for the next day - this will be helpful so you can get really familiar with the scenes you will be filming. Also I know that most directors will have even a couple practices right before filming too. You don't have to memorize all 120 pages at once. And I would think that would be a bad idea anyway, since things will change and evolve too during rehearsals and even while filming sometimes.

Brandon Koots

thanks a lot Ami! I am not sure I got the role yet. Still in consideration. If I do get it, filming will be July. For 1 month.

Clement Ofoedu

Hi, I concur with the others. Just directed a 116 page feature. Truth is film is rarely shot sequentially. On a stage play, yes you are usually required to learn the complete piece. But not in film. The camera is very close up and personal, therefore be close up on and personal on the lines if that makes sense. I am more impressed at how the actor takes a few lines and makes it special... aka performance in the right sense of the word. You will find also that the reality is your production will rarely shoot more than half a dozen scenes a day, dependant on locations, day clothes changes, stunts , vfx etc.. all these eat into prep time, hence as was mentioned the important thing is to know what scenes are being shot the next day. However all said and done. Read the entire script to understand the story. And ask the director questions to help you deliver the best of the character wanted. I found that various actors come from different methods of acting. However as I always said to my actors.. don't ACT that character.... just BE that character. A camera can spot acting easily. That's not what you want. Make the character you. If it helps stay in character all day. Also don't forget to interact with the world in the scene. I find that some actors are too busy focused on their lines that the mental Autocue shows on their faces. You don't want that either! If you are lucky you may have a director who will give you the 80/20 leeway. That is as long as you have 80% of the dialogue correct, focus on the performance. The whole point of a scene is to help tell a story. If that scene completes that part of the overall jigsaw better than with the scripted words in precision. I would go with the alternate every time. This is one of the reasons that its is really bad to over rehearse your actors as a director as you can loose the magic. Film is visual. people don't see dialogue, they see performance first, which hooks them into the dialogue. I can tell someone is pissed off on screen without them needing to say anything. The key is rehearse, understand the story, and know what scenes are to be shot on the day Hope that helps.. "May blessings be your charriot and good fortune your co-pilot"

Clement Ofoedu

Alle - What I am driving at is Acting is pretence , ie to convince them of that which you are not. So i.e I say become a queen. The first thing you think is what does a queen do, and how does a queen behave. Stage2 is that the actor will try to emulate that behaviour whilst relating their script lines. However unfortunately that pretence is usually quite obvious ( especially in camera). Like being right handed and suddenly trying to become left handed. Regardless of the effort. one is not naturally comfortable in that situation. not for quite a long time. This is not useful for the actor, whom has a limited time to get across the best representation for camera.. I am not talking for a stage audience. The window to the performance will be the camera lens. This is what the audience will ever see post. My reason for saying BE.. is a short form of what was once known as method acting. Where you'd become by identifying with a character and understand their world. Then behave as what that person would be. For a screenplay the character is a sum of a)The persona ( personal traits).. ie sex , age, etc b)The applicable back story (History).. long or short c)the environment the charter is inhabiting. It's like the laws of physics every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Or lets say every action causes a response great or small. As humans we do this automatically without thinking much about it. If a character in a script is a young woman that has been subject to abuse for a long time. The script demands she walks across a road and past a group of teenagers. That maybe all the script says. An actor may just carry out that action. But the initiated would think. where would be my characters eye-contact. How would I hold my head. Would I walk slow or quick.Would I make a subtle arc around the oncoming people. This may present frailty to the audience that may make them think I understand. In the sixth sense did you notice how Haley- Joel- osmet moved ( body language) in the company of others. and how he held his silence. This helped the audience sympathise even more. Therefore when they come into contact with another ' Character' within the scene. They have something to lean on to give a reaction which is the performance we seek ( For camera ), The dialogue drives the story we are trying to tell. but the the performance drives the empathy the audience feels with that character.. good or bad. It matters not. An audience must always feel something for the character that is presented on screen good or bad.. that causes the audience to identify with them. If one feels nothing for that character it becomes frivolous. Some great actors have got a great career from initial small parts, that they were able to present a performance through. We pay Robert D , Tom cruise, Mel S, millions for a film role. This is not for the lines they say only ( many actors can deliver lines) , but for the what they bring to that character. Christopher Walken for example. could sit on a bed in his underpants and sing Mary had a little lamb, and we would watch it. On the first read of the script, the above 3 points i mentioned is what an actor should be scanning for. As was stated the script may change ( and usually does). but those above things rarely change. Once you are locked into that you are in a safe place. This is why top actors can get precious about their character in sequels, saying things like my character would never do that or this. They do not object to the script lines, rather that the new lines are not in sync with the above elements, and is jarring. out of kilt. Sorry I am not trying to be patronizing. Its just perhaps I didn't myself clear The camera is your best and closest friend. You cannot lie to it, bribe it. its impartial, and won't cover for you if you mess-up It sees everything.

Brandon Koots

great info there! Thanks for all of this. It's really important for me to actually be the character. Because he has been through a lot in his life since high school. (It has a book). I already read about getting into character in every scene and stuff. So that's covered. Thanks again!

Clement Ofoedu

No problem Brandon. best of luck friend :-) remember: On closeups - less large movements. more subtle feature movements. (eyes/brow/lips) Moving your head an inch on a closeup is like moving it 2ft on the big screen. The audience eyes will be drawn to the movement, and detract from facial expressions which is your best tools to tell a story. or put it another way. in a scene you say the dialogue twice simultaneously once vocally aka script , and again with the expression package you create for the character during that scene. When both are synced you have a great performance. but when they slip out of sync, we as humans know it doesn't gel . We know something is wrong , but not sure what. So we say pffhtt!.. that actor wasn't so hot. or i didn't enjoy it. This is because we see expressions and emotions every day we are used to it. in real life. these dual feeds of info are perfect. hence its believable. The gateway to your character is the subtlety. emotions on the face etc. Grandiose is for stage. Subtlety is for camera and is king. 70-80% of what good actors do on film is subtlety if not higher. Even action films watch Matt Damon as Jason borne. Its an action film, but without the investment in emotion and subtlety, the films would be a very different experience indeed. On a stage people are leaning in to see more of the character. On film you could be blown up 20x40 ft.. you are already deep in the audiences personal space if you wish to portray power - don't blink! in the closeup shot. Weak people blink. Blinking generally presents weakness the reverse is true Also ask yourself what is the point of each scene. The objective This will guide you in improvising your interactions with the world around you for the scene.

Brandon Koots

thanks for these wonderful tips. I have the ability to not blink for a long time. And I still practice that on myself at home. I have done theater mostly. So it might become a bit difficult to be more subtle on camera. I watch a lot of TV shows also to learn from good actors out there. Maybe I can use something of them in my performance

Imola Gaspar

scene by scene

Zimasa May

so actually you reduce exaggeration

Larenzo Simmons

From my experience it all depends on how the director is shooting it. I normally go by the shoot schedule. For example if certain scenes are going to be scheduled to be shot on Tuesday than those are the scenes I am more focused on & make for certain I have memorized. Than the same concept is practiced for the next scheduled day. But if you can learn as much as you can & always have access to your script cause things are always subject to change & that keeps you ahead of the curve plus you become more comfortable with that character cause you truly become that character! By the way learn the script in its entirety period, it will give you a better feel for your part when you do this by learning the other actors parts will give you a understanding on how to get that chemistry with them! & always remember to get your body movements down, very important. I think this quality & action is underestimated or forgotten sometimes. I hope this helps & I wish you the best

Larenzo Simmons

BTW when doing film always try to stay consistent with the way you have acted the scene out each time it's shot no matter how many times the director shoots it. It makes the job easier on the EDITOR & EDITING! Believe me they will appreciate you for that.

Tyrone Ronald Meyers

Familiar yoursof where the story is going.elf with entire script by reading it it through serveral time or until you get the whole picture of whee the story is going. Then take it scene by scene. Pract ice your lines by using the chinees technigue. Each time you run the lines, speed up the pace until you can deliver them rapidly. Coupled with knowing the other actors lines, your lines will be delivered more naturally and expressive. It works for me. If at all possible, it also helps if you have time, to rehearse with other actor if it's a one on one. You will find your chemistr will develope. If you don't have the time, try the mirror method. I wouldn't deliver them the same way all the time. Most seasoned actors will deliver them differently every time therefore allowing the director along with the editor, to pick the best with the best expression. Good luck young man.

Jackie Penn

Very good question Brandon. I hope you get very positive and useful suggestions to your question. But, know that many of us learn the script (story) in different ways. So, you should take the suggestions and find what works best for you. Like Mr. Meyers above, I choose to read the script in its entirety, analyze the script and learn the story first. Once I know what the characters are trying to accomplish in each scene (what they are fighting for) then I go back and find what the characters are fighting for in the whole story. After I find what my character is fighting for in the story I stick to that objective so my audience is not confused what it is I'm trying to accomplish. I focus on the prime objective of the character, for the most part. I find it easier for me to learn the lines after I understand the story. What's trying to be accomplished in the story. And be sure you understand the genre of the story. Is it a comedy, dark comedy, farce, drama, melo drama...dramedy? Understanding this helps me stay true to the story. After understanding the story the lines become easy for me. We wish you well, And if you have any more questions or need better explanation or suggestions, just ask.

Brandon Koots

Thanks for your comment. I Think indeed it's best for me to try all these different methods and then choose the best one. Or combine them to make my own. Thanks!!

Brandon Koots

Good about this film is that there's a book. Which is basically a script on it's own. If I read that deeper to fully understand the character. Then I think I will be much more prepared for when I receive the actual script

Brandon Koots

hahahha. I think that helps me too. That's the way I remember my lines when I do theater plays. Really helps. should try it out here too

Rebecca Caldwell

Alle, I agree;listen to the other actor/character and know your own character and lines will sound natural. Pre-shaping can kill a scene because you're too busy waiting to say your line instead of having a conversation. I think Howard Fine's technique is great for a beginner trying to understand character personalisation. I was only recently introduced to it, but it's already helped heaps!

Mike Colonna

After watching years and years of Soaps, because my wife loves "Days of Our Lives," I was amazed at the pace actors move from line to line, expressions, inflections, moving while reciting their lines, w/most scenes taped in one take. Remember back in the day, rehearsal halls between studio one and two at NBC Burbank, the cast of "Days" would run through a rehearsal then on to studio 1 where the producer expected a great performance. Still happens on daytime soaps. Always wondered what the "trick" was to memorization, or was it a natural or photographic mindset that produces that professional performance day after day? I have trouble memorizing phone number and names.

Michelle Jeanmard

Chunk it!!! I learn mine in chunks. Start at the top of a scene and learn it. Then add to it scene by scene.

Brandon Koots

I fear I may get nervous and mess up the lines. I am really good at improvising. But I am not sure the director would want me to say my own things.

Brandon Koots

Thanks Alle! And btw, I DO improvise on live theater

Cheyn Cole

I would do it scene by scene. If its a film, you can learn it as you shoot it.

Brandon Koots

I was learning a scene of Sheldon. It went faster than I thought!

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