No matter what your role is (boom, recordist, dialogue editor, sound editor, rerecording mixer etc) on a film (short, long or otherwise) do you read the script before starting?
As a sound editor/designer for film and broadcast, I make sure I do everything I can to get a script in my hands, no matter how early in the process it is. Before meeting about the film, I make sure to have read the script more than twice, and make notations all over it - ideas about the sound and how we can treat and add to the scenes through sound. Additionally, if I'm working with a vet director, I will often view a few of his/her films prior to our first meeting, if not only to be able to bring up some specifics about the soundtrack in comparison to the script we're discussing.
I had a director decide to work with me because of all the sound editors he spoke with, only one actually read through and was ready to share ideas about the film (me). The others were initially only concerned with budget and time, and brought no creative ideas to the table at that point.
That film turned out to have made the final 10 cut for an Oscar nomination (but unfortunately did not make the final cut). That film put me on a stage at Skywalker working with Gary Rizzo and Richard Hymns. That film put me in the Stag Theater watching our film next to Gary Rydstrom and behind Gwen Whittle.
I'm not bragging. I'm saying that I went the extra mile and it paid off in ways I would have never dreamed of.
If we don't make a big deal about getting a script and meeting with the director prior to working together, then I think we're often overlooked as a creative part of the process. We all have worked with people who don't want/need the creative input, or simply regard sound as a supporting creative role. Make a big deal of yourself and the work you do. Doesn't matter if you play a role in production or post-production. Make a big deal.
If I get a copy of the script, I read it, always! Not to read it would be inpolite, and it is the best way to prepare you for the work ahead.
If I am only working as supervising sound editor / sound designer / re-recording mixer, and the film is already in editing, I am not always presented with a copy of the script, but with a rough cut of the film instead. In this case I am not asking for the script, but normally I am contacted before they shoot the film, and so I get to read the script.
Sometimes, when you're operating the boom mic and there's only one used in a dialogue, It's highly recommended that you read it so you know how u'll need to move it. So you find out when actor 1 line's over so that you can turn it and capture the actor 2's line. At least in Brazil, where the independent production's budget is always low, you MUST be aware of that kind of stuff. We usually have only one mic here. About me, I had my 3 meals today, don't worry. LOL :)
Yes, I always read the script...at least once. On the day of the shoot I like to have it handy, though usually you get given "Sides"...the pages out of the script scheduled to be shot that day, which I refer to prior to shooting a scene. I sort of memorize lines roughly and try to be there for every rehearsal the actors and director may have. It helps you prepare your boom movements, which mics to use, decide on the ambient sounds you may wish to capture and stuff like that. It also tells you (as a boom swinger) just how long some scenes are going to be and you can prepare yourself for them! :)
Speaking from a purely post production point of view I always prefer to read a script beforehand. I think it helps in a variety of ways, some aesthetic and some practical. It enables me to source difficult or specific sounds before production has started for example.
I also find it helps get a feel for a film/series, especially in animation where the editing is often more an assembly and probably wont be straying too far from the script.
If nothing else it can help start a dialogue between you and the Director/Producer which we all know is best to start as early as possible to ensure you're all on the same page from the off.
I find the script essential and sometimes where available the story board (especially if i'm working on an animation project)
At present on the project i'm working on, without the script I'd be a bit lost as i'm editing the dialogue as well as designing and until I have been working on the film for a couple more weeks it helps immerse myself with the characters. It also helps me communicate more with the director in terms of specific sound design placements as we can talk the same language in terms of reference points and we're on the same page..
Before starting I was lucky to obtain the script and read it thoroughly before starting, kinda gives you a head start.
I only recently started reading scripts -- thanks to my wild notion of writing my own movies simply so I can do sound for them -- and I wish it was mentioned earlier. Scripts are invaluable.
On an unrelated note, I just started building mind-maps of things I can record at my work and at my house, so I plan on going through scripts and doing this per-scene, as well.
For me it depends on what the state of the film is. Often when directors or producers get in touch with me for sound editing, they'll already be editing or even picture locked. In this situation, I don't ask for the script - the film has already been shaped in editorial and is not the same film that the script envisioned.
If a project is brought to me in its pre-production stages, I will read the script carefully in order to understand what will be required from the sound department. If I'm handling production sound, there will inevitably be things that I find I'll need to prepare for - fight scenes, "live" performances that I'll insist to the director should be performed to playback, etc.
If I'm still only doing post sound work, it's useful to read the script in pre-production to decide out what major elements of the soundtrack will be need to be recorded in post and what has to be captured during production. Recently, I was working on a short film that was funded by Toyota Japan and featured the Toyota Mark-X, a car that physically does not exist in Los Angeles (where I'm based). I stressed to the director how important it would be that the production sound crew record great production tracks and wild sound FX for the car, and things worked out pretty well in the end.