Camera Blocking Basics for Stand-Ins

JUNE 1, 2020
Director Paris Barclay camera blocking with DP Daryn Okada
Director Paris Barclay and Director of Photography Daryn Okada on the set of Station 19 (ABC)

Are you interested in working as a Stand-In with Central Casting? There’s a lot to know, especially if you’ve never been hired as one before. To give you an idea of what the job entails, we’ll dive into one of a Stand-In’s key responsibilities: camera blocking.

What is camera blocking?

A lot of thought and preparation goes into filming a scene from a movie or TV show. Imagine a courtroom where a lawyer picks up a piece of evidence and shows it to the jury. Did the lawyer open a file to grab the evidence? Did they walk it over to the jury or just hold it up from their table? While some of this information may be written in the script, it all comes together on set during camera blocking.

Blocking is how a character moves during a scene, interacts with other characters, and uses props. Determining camera blocking helps a production run smoothly and quickly, but it can also direct the audience’s attention, inform the viewer how to feel, and accentuate meaning in a scene. Stand-Ins are often used during the camera blocking process, freeing the principal actor for other responsibilities.

Stand-Ins and camera blocking

Productions can vary on how they use Stand-Ins depending on the director, director of photography, Assistant Director, or principal actor preference, but there are general responsibilities based on if it’s single or multi-camera.

Single camera productions (films, TV dramas, some TV comedies) are more likely to cast Stand-Ins who match the principal actor in height, build, hair color, and complexion and are mainly used for lighting and camera set-ups. Principal actors may run through the scene in rehearsal, while the Stand-In watches so they can recreate the movements.

Multi-camera (sitcom) Stand-Ins can be more involved in camera blocking as they run through the entire episode in place of the principal actor to determine camera shots, dialogue, and movement. Multi-cam Stand-Ins don’t necessarily need to match a principal actor and instead are often hired for their professionalism and experience.

No matter what type of production you’re working on, it’s your job as a Central Casting Stand-In to take detailed notes. You’ll either be given a full episode script or sides for a scene and you should write down all camera blocking information so you can recreate the principal actor’s movements, explain where and when they move in a scene, and relay any changes.

Create a Stand-In resume

One of the tools our Casting Directors use when booking Stand-Ins is a Stand-In resume. If you’re looking for ways to be productive until production resumes, try making or updating your resume. You can format the document like a standard resume and include the name of the project you worked on, how long you worked, the name of the actor you stood in for (or if you were utility), and whether the production was single or multi-camera. It’s okay if you don’t have a lot of experience, add what you have and be sure to update your resume each time you work as a Stand-In.

Casting Directors recommend keeping a digital copy of this document handy, so you’re ready to send it when an opportunity comes up. You never know when production needs someone with your look or sizes and wouldn’t want to miss out on a job because you couldn’t find your resume in time.

Want to know more about working as a Stand-In with Central Casting? Read through our articles 5 Things All Stand-Ins Should Know and Do’s and Don’ts for Working as a Stand-In so you’ll know what to expect when production resumes.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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