We talk a lot about improving your writing through various writing exercises, but we rarely discuss how the process of being on set can help improve your work as a screenwriter. Here are just a few of the ways:
- Seeing Is Believing – Being on set lets you literally see a translation from script to screen. You’ll get a better overall sense of how a cast and crew adapts what’s on the page to the screen.
- Geography – This can be tricky in writing; how much time do you dedicate to describing a space? Being on set allows you to see how a production design team and director work together to bring that space to life, perhaps adding to what already was in the script. This is great practice, too, for observing locations to get a sense of what’s most important to you when translating your idea to the page.
- Acting! – Observing actors is a great way to help you hone in on how to best express emotion in a scene. As you watch, you’ll get a better sense of how an actor might use an action rather than dialogue to express a beat – or vice versa. This can help you streamline your script and remove unneeded acting redundancies or direction.
- The Director Calls Action – The writer really crafts the main point from which the rest of the movie (or television show) flows. But – the director calls action. You may notice a director working through a scene any number of ways – adjusting blocking, dialogue, and other beats to make sure everything matches what came before. A lot happens on set that may not necessarily be on the page (for better and for worse), and watching it occur can help you hone in on what’s vital to include in your draft.
- Consistency – This is something that tends to get a few passes – in the script, on the set, and in the edit. On set, it’s the script supervisor who oversees moments of inconsistency in a shot or between shots or scenes. It’s great to get a sense of how important that can be to making a production make sense, and how you as a writer can work to make your sluglines clear and your characters’ beats consistent.
These are just some of the things you can learn as a writer from your time on set. What else have you learned from being on set? Tell us on Twitter!