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wendymarlowe
01-17-2014, 11:32 AM
One of my main characters is a famous actor who is in between movies but will be starting filming soon after my story takes place. I assume he's already got his script and is trying to learn his lines, even before he gets to the "table read" and actually has to show up on the set. My question is, what's a realistic way to have him do this? I want to have a scene where the heroine volunteers to help and she reads opposite him (i.e. the cues in between his own lines), but then I thought it's likely a script for an upcoming big-budget movie might be covered with so many NDAs it would be unrealistic to think he'd be free to let her see even a few pages.

I've found lots of vaguely helpful "advice" online, but no way to tell if any of it is backed by experience or authority. It also sounds like the "learning your lines" process is very different for theater versus TV versus movies - theater has to be word-for-word perfect, while TV may involve changing the lines up until the very last minute. I assume movies are somewhere in between?

ShaunHorton
01-17-2014, 11:37 AM
I attempted acting at one point, didn't get too far, but should have something helpful.

One of the most basic tactics is just going through the script, reading your parts out loud while keeping the rest in your head. That way you get used to saying the words and taking note of the cues.

One thing I've heard suggested is that they use a recorder and record every line that isn't theirs, then play it back and insert their lines in where the breaks in the tape are.

Then, of course, there's just reading it. Over. And over. And over. And over. And over again.

Sunflowerrei
01-17-2014, 11:49 AM
I went to a college with a big theater program. My roommate was a theater major, actually, and I used to run her lines with her every so often. I seem to remember recorders being used to help memorize things, but mostly a lot of notes and highlights and scribbles on the script. Plus, of course, theater has a rehearsal process. She did a couple of student films, too, but there was rehearsal for those as well.

When she was trying to get off-book for an audition or for a show, she'd have me read the other lines in the scene while she would recite her lines. Sometimes we'd go over a particular section over and over again until she had it. Sometimes she'd sit in the corner and recite her scene to herself.

I'm not sure what an actor preparing for a big budget movie would do differently, but if the character has a theater background or training, he might memorize his lines in a more theater way.

blacbird
01-17-2014, 12:32 PM
This unquestionably varies from individual actor to individual actor. I can't imagine there's a rule-book for this.

caw

Bufty
01-17-2014, 03:41 PM
No idea what a 'more theater way' is.

Read and remember is the objective and each person has their own way of achieving that.

The only thing that helps is having a good script in the first place - a good script can be memorised far more quickly than a mediocre one.

Cath
01-17-2014, 03:47 PM
For a movie, and actor needs to be much less precise about their words than if they were doing Shakespeare, for example. The audience doesn't know exactly what was in the script, unless it's already a well-known piece. A big name actor may get away with being a little fast and loose with the dialog, so may not pay so much attention to learning by rote. I have heard of actors who completely rewrote their scenes in some movies (once from the, rather upset, author of the piece).

One of the things he's trying to understand up front is what the character is going through in each scene, what their emotions and motivations might be, so he's going to be analyzing the script, and maybe playing it out in various ways.

Much depends on the character of your actor, what his approach is to the role and the words in the script.

Torgo
01-17-2014, 03:48 PM
Both my parents were actors, and as a child I was often called upon to run lines with my mum. A lot easier to do that way, acting it out a bit. When I was 9 she was in a Sam Shepard play and I was shushed at the press night by the critic from the Mail, as I was unconsciously muttering everyone's lines.

Calla Lily
01-17-2014, 04:43 PM
I did amateur theater for 15 years. What worked for me was a 2-stage process: I'd pace the house with the script in hand, reciting one line. Then add the next, then recite both a few times, then add the next... lather, rinse, repeat in the fashion of "The 12 Days of Christmas."

When I felt about 80% confident with the lines, I'd ask someone to give me my cues. Also lather, rinse, repeat. :)

buirechain
01-17-2014, 05:42 PM
I want to have a scene where the heroine volunteers to help and she reads opposite him (i.e. the cues in between his own lines), but then I thought it's likely a script for an upcoming big-budget movie might be covered with so many NDAs it would be unrealistic to think he'd be free to let her see even a few pages.


If her helping isn't a spur of the moment thing, and depending on her relationship to the actor, it's possible that she could sign an NDA and read it herself. I don't know anything about Hollywood scripts, but I know someone who works for a computer game company with a heavy NDA on their projects. His wife, who has no affiliation to the company except through him, has signed an NDA so they can talk about it (and I think when it came time she did some play testing, I don't have all the details).

wendymarlowe
01-17-2014, 07:27 PM
If her helping isn't a spur of the moment thing, and depending on her relationship to the actor, it's possible that she could sign an NDA and read it herself. I don't know anything about Hollywood scripts, but I know someone who works for a computer game company with a heavy NDA on their projects. His wife, who has no affiliation to the company except through him, has signed an NDA so they can talk about it (and I think when it came time she did some play testing, I don't have all the details).

It is pretty much only decided with a few hours' notice and they haven't known each other very long (it's a contemporary romance novella), but I think I may see if I can swing this. I need something for him to do while she's at work during the days, so having him spend a bunch of time highlighting scripts and wandering around muttering to himself works great :-)

Siri Kirpal
01-18-2014, 12:48 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I understand that movie actors often have their lines posted somewhere where they can see them.

I have a good memory, so learning lines wasn't too difficult. I'd just read them, both silently and out loud.

One of my closest friends from high school is an equity actor. He talked about trying out different ways of saying things...to get a laugh or a tear or whatever.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Torgo
01-18-2014, 12:53 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I understand that movie actors often have their lines posted somewhere where they can see them.



Sat Nam, Siri!

You may be amused by this article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/photo-reveals-marlon-bran_n_2902771.html), with pics of how Marlon Brando remembered his lines on The Godfather.

maryland
01-18-2014, 02:36 PM
A friend was a great amateur actress and she had pages of the script stuck onto mirrors and kitchen cupboard doors!

storygirl99
01-18-2014, 08:47 PM
My husband and I are both professional actors (meaning we are in both unions, but not meaning that we make full time income from acting). Film scripts are easier to memorize than plays because there is far less dialogue in films and because actors have a lot of down time during film shoots and that time is often used going over lines for the next scene--and once the scene is shot it doesn't have to be done over and over. I've never been to a table read of a film (or play for that matter) where the actors had to be off-book. Some film directors like to rehearse and in that case, lines need to be memorized for rehearsal. A famous actor might be allowed to use cue cards (as noted above) or to play fast and loose with dialogue, but I guarantee that if you are not famous you would never ever intentionally ad-lib (unless encouraged to do so by the director) or be allowed to use cue cards on set.

I've had my hands on plenty of film scripts, even for big budget Hollywood movies but haven't had to sign any NDAs for them. I have had to sign NDAs for auditions for commercials though (weird, but advertisers seem more paranoid about this than film people).