The first readers in today's script reading of John Alsop's adaptation of the Audtralian novel An Imaginary Life. From left: Ricky Davao, Jason Lopez, Jackie Uy and Derek Tan.

I've been in DLSU for three years, and within that time frame I have attended three screenplay readings. Among those three, I've been a bit reader for two. Things come out of it, whatever way you look at it. I may not have such a good voice for delivering lines with utmost conviction, but hey, I still get the perks.

John Alsop was back today for the reading of his screenplay, an adaptation of the novel An Imaginary Life. Nine of us from film writing class were called to read some lines. I was one of them - I got Jackie's text message yesterday afternoon while having lunch. At least all nine of us got the news early enough, since nobody was late for the 09.00 call time. And then we were waiting at the wrong place - a last-minute change, and Jackie asking me to go to M209 to see if Sir Doy's waiting for us halfway across the campus, meant that we were to meet two floors down, at the Fellows room. Sir Doy was first, then I was, then the rest of the bit readers, then Ricky Davao, then Miss Sangil, then Jessica Sta. Domingo.

Perk number one: you meet those big names. In the first screenplay reading I was in, there was Sev Sarmienta and Tommy Abuel doing lines from a script Isabel Enriquez-Kenny brought. In the second screenplay reading I was in - really in - there was scriptwriter Michiko Yamamoto (who Jason met a few days before, during the Cinemalaya opening) and main readers Nathan Lopez, of Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, and Elijah Castillo, of Pepot Artista and Pisay. Today, there's Ricky Davao, who was at the first organized reading (which I wasn't able to attend), as well as film director Sockie Fernandez, who did Gulong. But there really weren't actual conversations, but more of gestures especially when we were standing in front of the audience, reading off the script. Simply said, nobody was really that starstruck. I guess we really are used to it now.

Our only run-through of the script came thirty minutes before the actual event. My role was that of an old man who's got a language all his own. That's three lines - four if you include my other role as a wolf. Well, we're used to reading a few lines here and there anyway. Jackie had one line. Jason had one line. Sars had one line. Sara had two-thirds of the script!

Perk number two: it feels weird. It is a perk, really. All of my lines weren't in English, but at least I become another man in his fifties with an illicit affair. Sara became a ten-year-old boy. Jason became a Roman soldier. Misha was married to Ricky, and Jackie was the fruit of their... stop it right there, Niko. But you do get the idea. It didn't really matter, because it's just a line, and nobody really had to do a deal of voice acting, but I think that's the point. It's merely a line.

Contrast that with us waiting for Sir Doy to arrive. We were sillier than usual, watching some midterm projects that can confuse a film noir with a Western. I was feeling clanky merely because of a bout with sound sensitivity. Derek was telling a lot of stories. Misha was (achingly) ultra-sociable, and then got too much from Derek. Jason was sprawled on the floor. Jed was being usually formal. (What's unusual about it if it's the case?) Get us on the first row of seats at Y408, and we're taking photos and reading scripts. Automatically professional, in a sense. And then all that reverts to normal when we're invited back to the Fellows room.

Perk number three: free lunch. Yes, it does exist. John was surprised, but I wasn't. After every screenplay reading there's be a small gathering for those who participated, and if people weren't enough, they'd drag us in. That's how I somehow managed to sneak a question to Isabel Enriquez-Kenny. But in the next two readings I've been in, there's a more legitimate reason to do so - I am a reader! It can get surprising, though, to see who gets in - the second one had Karla and Piyar, plus lots of photos with Elijah. Today, Malia and Kat were also eating sauced-up chicken and garlic pasta with us.

It's actually a simple way to get things confusing. One reserves a seat, but there can only be so many seats inside the Fellows room. Two readers and two guests - students, at least - didn't eat in a table. I ended up sitting beside Ricky Davao himself, silently chuckling at the discussions among the prominent film people about the Australian way of making a screenplay and the Filipino way of not making a screenplay. I was just slurping what remained of the fruit cocktail.

Generally such experiences leave you disoriented. Maybe it was the case today. I arrived a little lost, and left in the same state, but not after getting entranced in our characters and the general mood of being participants in something bigger than we're used to. Cuyeg was surprised to hear that we were with Ricky (and that Jessica's a pretty one), and then we photocopied the signed concept proposal. The rain stopped and I had a jacket. And, earlier, I thought Misha came to class with lipstick on, only to realize that it's a strawberry lollipop she's having.

Annoyed reactions aside, if it was "for me" then I'd be more disoriented.

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