Each director has her own method of preparing her actors for filming. In fictional productions, however, three types of rehearsals have been established, to which most methods can be attributed.
Read-Through (or Table Read)
In a read-through (or table read), all actors read the script together. Director's instructions are provided by a third party, such as a director's assistant. The director does not read himself, so he can concentrate on his impression while listening. In the process of making a movie or series, the reading is the only time when all the actors are gathered together in a room, giving you a very immediate sense of the emotional dynamics and tone of the story. The impression is therefore quite different to a script reading. A reading rehearsal is also valuable because a similar overall impression only occurs again much later in the rough cut. It is not uncommon for a script to be adapted again based on impressions from a reading rehearsal.
A second common rehearsal method is a role discussion, in which the director discusses the role of each actor individually. The goal of a role discussion is a general agreement about how a role is created and why the character behaves a certain way in each scene. For this purpose, the director and actors work through the script chronologically and discuss all the scenes in which the character appears. Usually, a role discussion will give rise to many new aspects and ideas, and not infrequently training or research will be agreed during this type of rehearsal.
A third method is combination rehearsing. In these, the relationships of the figures to each other is worked out. Typically, they take place in combinations like “mother/daughter”, “wife/lover” or “boss/employee" - meaning emotionally meaningful relationships within the story. Which relationships these might be is at the discretion of the director. In combination rehearsals, all scenes relevant to the characters' relationship and their development are discussed. They also provide the framework for physical rehearsals where the director stages one or more scenes in the room.
The three types of samples share the common goal of achieving clarity and consistency over the content of a script. If this is successful, the directing on the set can focus entirely on the staging of the scene as well as how everything appears on screen. The conversation between the director and actors is no longer about what is being implemented, only about how it will be implemented.