A Stand-In is a person who takes the place of a principal actor for rehearsals, camera blocking, or lighting setups and are part of the second team. Central Casting casts Stand-Ins for movies, TV shows, commercials, and many other forms of media.
There are different kinds of Stand-Ins that serve a variety of purposes on set. Some need to resemble the principal actor as closely as possible, while others just need to have a similar height. No matter what kind of Stand-In you are, you are an integral part of the production.
Utility Stand-Ins are typically used for light and camera rehearsals and may stand in for actors of varying looks, genders, and ethnicities. Matching the height of actors is more important than matching a look. If you're booked in this role, you may be standing in for multiple actors on the same project.
Single Camera Stand-Ins must often match the principal actor in height, build, hair color, and complexion. They are mainly used for lighting and camera setups.
Multi-Camera Stand-Ins establish camera shots, movements of the principal actor, dialogue, and blocking. They will often run through the entire episode in place of the actors so the production team can block out all the movements before filming. Multi-Camera Stand-Ins are often hired for experience and professionalism, and don't necessarily have to match the actor they are standing in for.
It's the age-old dilemma: I can't get the job without experience and I can't get experience without the job. It's true that many Stand-In job postings ask for people with experience, but if you've never stood in before, there are a couple of things you can do to set yourself on the right track.
The first is to take Central Casting University's Stand-In class. You'll learn directly from Assistant Directors who are on set every day and gain valuable experience straight from the source. Check your location's calendar for upcoming class dates.
Another way is to watch what the Stand-Ins do while you're on set as a Background Actor. Being on set is one of the best ways to learn about the industry. Keep an eye on the second teams of various productions you work on to get an idea of their different responsibilities.
Once you do start to gain experience, keep track of it by making a resume. This is an easy way for Casting Directors to see if you are right for the part. Your Stand-In 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.
No matter your role on set, you always want to make sure you're checked in and ready to hit your mark at your call time. You will be responsible for relaying information to the actor you are standing in for, so be sure to take thorough and detailed notes.
Some Stand-Ins are part of the production for multiple seasons. If you want to be asked back, then work hard to make a good impression and always be professional and prepared.
Watch Silicon Valley's Zach Woods talk to Seth Meyers about the Stand-Ins cast by Central Casting Los Angeles.