Working as a Stand-In is completely different than working as a Background Actor. For one, Stand-Ins do all their work behind the scenes and are never seen on camera. Many people seek out Stand-In jobs for the chance to work more closely with actors and crew members. Before heading to set, know what you should and shouldn’t do as a Stand-In.
As with any job you’re cast for, it’s important to show up on time and ready to work. For Stand-Ins, your call time is the time you are expected to be on set and working. When you leave for set, factor in traffic, parking, and check-in time to ensure you’re ready to hit your mark on your call time.
When a Casting Director gives you your details, they’ll tell you how to get your call time changes. Be sure to check for changes before you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, and before you leave for set.
Part of your responsibility as a Stand-In is to relay blocking information to the actor you’re standing in for. When working on a single camera project, you will be given sides (miniaturized script pages being filmed that day) to take notes on. For multi-cam projects, you will be given the episode’s script. Bring something to write with and be prepared to take notes on where to move, when to move, and prop directions in a scene.
When working as a Stand-In, you may rehearse several scenes in a row that take place in the same location. It can be easy to confuse the details of what scene you’re working on, so the more detailed notes you take, the easier it will be to accurately relay information to the actor.
Remember, the notes you take aren’t just for the principal actors, but for yourself as well. Details like the kind of shoes your character is wearing or how their hair is styled for a scene can affect camera and lighting set-ups. These are the small details that you’ll need to remember so the crew can get the set-ups they need.
Always know who you’re standing in for before you start rehearsals. If you’re new to set or standing in for an actor who is new to set, ask one of the Assistant Directors to introduce you. It’s also a good idea to learn the names of the crew members, especially the director of photography, camera operator, and assistant cameras, since you’ll be working with them often.
We all know time is precious, and this is especially true on productions. The cast and crew have a lot they need to get done in a day; help them out by being professional and ready to work. Schedules can change and scenes can be shifted around, so be aware of when you need to be on set and where you are in the script.
Even when it seems like there’s downtime, the crew is always prepping for the next shot, actors may be rehearsing their lines, and writers may be collaborating with directors. Do what you can to keep the day running smoothly by not being too loud or distracting to those around you.
A big part of working as a Stand-In is being present when you’re needed. Always be alert and ready to work when the Assistant Director calls for you. If you do need to step away from set, be sure to let an Assistant Director or production assistant know. If they’re busy, at least tell one of your fellow Stand-Ins so someone knows where you are. Production should never have to look for you.
When Casting Directors are casting Stand-Ins for their projects, they may ask you to submit a Stand-In resume. Your resume should include the show you worked on, how long you worked on that show, the actor you stood in for, and whether it was single or multi-cam. Keep a copy of your resume handy so you’re prepared to submit when you see a new job post.
Now that you what to do on set, you’re ready to be cast as a Stand-In. Central Casting casts different types of Stand-Ins for movies, TV shows, and other productions. Want advice from the experts? Check out Assistant Director Michele Azenzer Bear’s 5 Multi-Cam Stand-In Tips.