Table reads are great to learn the cadence of the cast while they speak. This will give you a much better timing per scene as well as overall.
Things to bring:
- Computer or notepad
- Water/drink of choice
Be ready to get asked to read the action notes, but if possible, give this task to the writer. You have enough to do during the table read.
Start your stopwatch at the beginning of each scene, or if a few scenes are continuous, keep it rolling for those and get an overall timing. Chances are, if a few scenes work in unison/continuously, they will most likely be block shot together. Having an overall timing for those scenes will be important for scheduling and overall pacing.
Write the actor’s name next to the characters name as well to start getting familiar with the cast. You’ll be working closely with them for an extended period of time and it’ll be nice to know their names as soon as possible.
If there are a few trip ups during the scene, ask if they can start the scene over to get a better timing. Be nice about this, as some people are self-conscious about their ability to read out loud.
Once the table read is over, total up your time and update your breakdown. Adjust any scene timings you did during your prep, but remember that this is only the timing of the dialogue. Scenes with action will still need more time.