I am knackered! Honestly, I'm not sure why, but sitting there listening to people read my script out loud was really tiring. Maybe I was so nervous beforehand that I used up that much energy, or maybe those two lines I delivered really took it out of me, but whatever the reason, I just want to lie down in a darkened room with a bottle of whiskey and listen to Dark Side of the Moon.
Tiredness aside though, this afternoon's read through of More Than This, the film script I've been working on for a while now, went really well. Everyone went for it, getting into their roles and delivering their lines wonderfully. It was good to hear others interpretations of my characters without me giving them any direction beforehand. It's changed how I hear a couple of the characters in my head, for the better, while two in particular were read out exactly as I had imagined them, which is also a good thing. As a matter of fact, if I do manage to get this thing made in the near future, I'm seriously considering offering a couple of those parts to the people who read them this afternoon.
Just before I go any further, I want to give a massive shout out to my readers. First of all, Bernt, who came along saying he didn't want to read a part, so I made him read the directions, meaning he had more to read out than anyone else! Poor guy. I should buy him a drink. As for the characters, Ricky, Carew, Lowri, Ana, Andy and Alex, thank you guys so much. I owe you all big time for this one. And also, thanks to Nicki, who came along and didn't read, but was a useful gauge for how an audience might react.
I know what you want to know though. Did anyone cock up any lines? Yes. Within the first couple of pages. Sigh. And the fool who choked first? That'd be me. I had two lines. I wrote them. I screwed up the first one. There's a reason I haven't acted for years!
During the read through itself, the first thing which I noticed was also the thing I was possibly most worried about. The guys seemed to find it funny. This was such a relief to me. More Than This is supposed to be a comedy, but I hadn't found it funny for a while. I figured this may simply be because I was too close to it, but I also had that nagging doubt that, maybe, it just wasn't funny. But no, everyone laughed at it, and everyone enjoyed it. Sure, some of that comes with the delivery, but a lot of it does come from the words, and it seems that I wrote some humorous words. Phew.
Another thing I was worried about going in was the dialogue. I was worried some of it was quite clunky, and wouldn't flow naturally. And some of it was, but not nearly as much as I expected. In fact, and while they didn't know it, this was one of the nicest compliments I've ever been paid, the guys loved the dialogue. I pride myself on my ability to write dialogue. I think I'm good at getting an ear for how characters should sound and what they would say, while also getting it to flow and sound natural. The thing is, you know what they say about pride. I was genuinely terrified that maybe it was just me that thought that. Sure, both Drew and Joe have complimented some of the dialogue I wrote for Stiffs, but what if that was a fluke? What if I wasn't nearly as good as I thought? So to get that validation from the guys was huge for me, not just in my confidence in More Than This as a script, but in my own abilities as a writer. Yes, like I said, some of the dialogue doesn't quite work yet, but it's not a final draft. There's more to come. And anyway, I think part of that is related to the next point...
The characters. The central trio, in particular, seemed to go down pretty well, in terms of their overall characters and arcs within the story, such as they are. Some of the other minor characters also seemed popular, which was gratifying. It's always good to know you can create memorable characters that people like. That said, there are two characters who are pretty key to the film as a whole, both of whom need developing. One of these, I already knew about. He's in there as little more than a plot point at the moment, and as he's written currently, there's something about him which doesn't make much sense (yes, I'm trying to write this spoiler free). But that just confirmed something I was already aware of. The other one, I wasn't so aware of going into the reading, but when it was pointed out to me afterwards, I really had to agree. Both these characters need some work, and arguably, it's some of their dialogue which is the weakest in the script. I reckon if I can work these characters out in the next draft, then the dialogue may come with them.
The swearing? Staying in. In fact, I may add more. The massively geeky references? Going nowhere. People loved them. There was also a suggestion regarding a certain act of violence in the script which I, personally, loved. So that'll be going in.
This has been a really postive and incredibly useful experience. I've been given a lot of stuff I can use for More Than This version 5.0, and I'm looking forward to cracking on with it. My episodes of Supermarket Matters for Mark and co-writing Stiffs with Drew and Joe are the priorities for now, because these have more or less definite deadlines, and leave others reliant on me turning work in. I love writing these projects, and think I'm also not doing a half bad job on them. But much as I love them, More Than This is something else to me. It's something entirely my own and, for a number of reasons, it's also a deeply personal script, and to know I'm on the right track with it is immensely gratifying. I'm gonna try and do little bits on the next draft here and there, but the big push will probably come in the new year, with an eye to maybe shooting it (and I can't stress how much emphasis I need to put on that maybe) in the spring/summer of 2011.
And ya know what? Beyond the feedback and validation, it was actually just fun to sit down with some people and read a script.
Once again, thank you guys. So, wanna do it again for the next draft?