How to develop a character for film through effective script analysis
The script is the medium between idea and reality. It is the first concrete contact the creative team and the actors have with the screenwriter’s story. It is the base of the production, it serves as a guide, a map, that provides all the necessary information to bring the story to life. In this article, I will focus on the relationship between actor and script.
I’m a true believer that knowledge is freedom. The more an actor knows about the character and the circumstances of the story, the easier it will be to improvise under the character’s perspective. To have that freedom, on stage or screen, the actor knows that to embody that persona it requires time, study, and a lot of work.
One of the aspects of an actor’s work is to investigate and unravel all the information given by the screenwriter through the text about the character, embody that information and bring that character to life. So, the time you spend with the text is precious. The question is: what do you ask the script to get the right information to create the character?
Stanislavski was a Russian actor and a fantastic theatre maker. He was the first one to look into the craft of acting with the attention it deserves. His system inspired many wonderful theatre and filmmakers around the world, especially the artists in America, such as Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Stanford Meisner and many more. Stanislavski’s System is also known as the “science of acting”. Through life and human observation the aim on his system was to bring to the stage truthful, complex and human characters, not only a “representation” of what the character is.
That observation, as well as in life, would happen also in the rehearsal room, on the “round-the-table analysis” work, related to Stanislavski’s first phase. This work was mainly dedicated to the analysis and investigation of the script in a deep and detailed way in order to bring the screenwriter’s story and characters to life.
To help actors immerse themselves in the world of the story and help them connect with the screenwriter’s script in a resourceful way, Stanislavski came up with 7 questions to investigate the character. In a general way the seven questions he came up with were related to: character’s life and relationships, the place and time the story happens, the objectives and super objectives, tactics, and obstacles to overcome.
Some of the elements worked on a Script Analysis session are: scene structure (event, beats and climax), character’s journey (through-line-of-action), character analysis, character’s relationships, back story, biography, research, dialogue/lines, subtext, ‘actioning’ the text, given circumstances.
Each script is a whole new world to be discovered and an opportunity to understand life from different points of view. So, taking the “Script Analysis” process slowly, attentively and really giving yourself time to look into the details of the story can be a wonderful adventure when building a character.
The next question is: how to put all that information into action? Well, that’s a story for another article!
About the Author
Verônica Sarno plays Violet in the upcoming Shell Out Production Anonymous film. A Brazilian actress who trained at the Drama Centre London, Escola Superior de Artes Célia Helena (Brazil) and the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute (Russia) where the base of her training was the Stanislavski system. Her background is in theatre, but she was drawn into the world of cinema since she moved to the UK. She has worked in film and theatre productions in Brazil and England, including the award winning two-year national tour Brazilian version of Spur of the Moment by Anya Reiss, Before the Sun Rises at Theatre 503 and the features Insanity and Haraam, which is currently available on Amazon Prime (UK). As well as an actress, Verônica also works as a voice over artist, and an acting and voice teacher.
You can find out more about Veronica’s classes in Script Analysis by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by heading to her Instagram account @vsarno