This morning, I was pushed into our mock store and given the task of assisting in the direction of the training scripts I wrote a couple weeks ago. I got to feed lines, read off-screen dialogue to get scenes moving, check off scenes and setup folks for the next shot, and track what we were filming and what still needed to be done.
It was a humbling and educational experience. The best part was watching people change and morph the scripts as we went in response to the constraints of the shots/resources and based on their actual experience (“She’s not going to say return. She’s going to say “check.””).
It was really clear just then why the dialogue in film scripts is kept so minimal, too. They start waxing on for long paragraphs – particularly when you’re not working with pro actors – and people get lost, out of breath, start to sound like Babylon 5 monologuers. I think it really is true: you can have great dialogue and crap actors or bad dialogue and great actors, but not both at once.
The stuff that was short and choppy, that was written with just the right store-appropriate lingo and that the support folks got to have fun with? Yeah, that came out the best.
I learned a lot.
I love my job.