Updated: Feb 9
When we write or work on scripts for promotional films for businesses, schools and charities we find that clients will often be nervous about working from a script. Being able to perform a 3 minute script to camera whilst still varying the pitch, pace and pausing appropriately is a real skill.
For many years we have been breaking up scripts into each component sentence and occasionally even break longer sentences down further. This then allows those who are on screen to deliver each sentence in a more natural and interesting way.
As long as we pay attention to how we begin and end the sentences then when we get into the edit phase of production, we can splice each of the sentences together and layer some of the cut away shots, or B roll, over the top. Before long we have an entire film which sounds like it was delivered perfectly.
Working this way the on screen talent is more relaxed and confident making for a much more interesting film. Each sentence becomes an individual piece that they just need to deliver. If there is a mistake or fluff or verbal filler, then we only have to focus on capturing the current sentence.
We would often advise that giving the script a read before we get to filming will give the opportunity to make sure the script doesn’t have any parts which can be difficult or feel clumsy to say out loud. And can greatly reduce little mistakes, making the process sleeker and more efficient.
Occasionally we are asked whether the script can in fact just be created by asking a subject questions. This can be a risky way to make a film for both the film maker and the client, you never truly know what will be said, or if the way it is said may miss the message entirely. Also we tend to find there is a lot more vocal filler, pauses or problems – which can frustrate the on screen talent. One last problem that can arise from this style is that when in edit you may need other sentences to give context to the answer, meaning that you may in fact need extra time to make the point. Or you might not have the time to make the point fully or the subject didn’t answer in a way that you can use each sentence.
For both of these styles it is very important for us to be able to capture a real variety of shots, to make sure we have lots of options to cut away to in between the sentences. Even more so in the question base scenario as you never know when you would need to cut away, or patch something in edit.
As a third option if a long script needs to be delivered in its entirety and there are very little options to cut away to, then we do have a teleprompter and can make sure that the talent can then read the script to camera. We generally find that after practicing a few times they will be able to bring the script to life and read it in a more interesting and engaging way.
So the answer to the original question is no. When working off a script our crew can read each sentence one at a time or the subject could work from the teleprompter or you could just ask questions. In any case we will often capture the content several times for safety (in case there is a car, or door slam or some stray sound in the background).