As the new year approaches, there may be value in looking back over the past year to reflect on the experiences you’ve collected in working as a stand-in.
It may also be a time to ask yourself what you would like to do in the future with respect to stand-in work.
Here are some ideas to reflect on and consider upon the new year.
If you worked a lot as a stand-in, it may be interesting to look at your earnings this past year of stand-in work. How did you do?
If you made a lot of money from stand-in work, you may be surprised just how lucrative stand-in work can be for you. If you’re a union stand-in in SAG-AFTRA, you may even find that you earned enough to make you eligible for pension and health insurance benefits.
Or, if stand-in work was not lucrative for you, you might want to see whether is an appropriate line of work to pursue to finance your life. If it doesn’t, do you want to continue doing it? If so, how do you increase your stand-in work in the year ahead to improve your bank account?
Answering these questions may help you get a better snapshot of how standing in fits in with your life.
If you work a lot as a stand-in, you may have made incredible professional connections. Whom did you meet and work with in the past year?
If you developed great professional relationships as a stand-in, you may want to ask yourself how in the new year you can leverage those relationships for future work. Write a shortlist of people you know you could contact to put out feelers for stand-in work. Also, write out a list of actors for whom you’ve stood in not just to get the breadth of your work but also so that they’re top of mind should they come to town for another project in the future.
Alternately, if you made a lot of professional contacts as a stand-in, did your meeting people as a stand-in interfere with other interests of yours — such as an interest in stunt work or principal acting work? Consider whether stand-in work over the past year may have worked against your interest in, say, stunts or traditional acting, and whether you should keep doing it in the new year.
Stand-in work can be grueling, especially if you work 60-80 hours a week as a stand-in, five days a week over the course of months. This may mean that your health or personal life took a toll this year.
Over the past year, did you lose touch with friends? Make new friends? How did you balance or maintain romantic relationships in your life?
Also, did you stay healthy? Did you lose your fitness levels, or maintain them? How often did you get sick, if at all?
If the new year looks to be another busy year of stand-in work for you, and if you weren’t able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it may be time to consider what kinds of choices you can enact in the new year to improve your lifestyle.
That said, if you foresee a break, it might be then when you focus on self-improvement to prepare you for when your new season of stand-in work begins.
Working in film and television can be magical — so magical, that you can become anesthetized to some of the awesome experiences you are involved in, time and again.
What really cool experiences did you have at work as a stand-in over the past year? Write down some of them so that they don’t become lost memories. Work back over your calendar to see what experiences you might recall.
Did you have an inspiring conversation with another actor? Did you get direction from a famed director? Did you work under extraordinary circumstances? Were you upgraded from stand-in to principal? Did you have a notably miserable experience? Or did you have a victory fighting for yourself as a stand-in?
You may find that remembering these anecdotes now helps you to recall them in the future. And recalling them in the future may lead to common ground between you and another industry professional, which could also lead to future work.
Your Stand-In Goals
Of course, the new year brings with it the desire to set new goals. If you want to continue to work as a stand-in in the new year, what kind of work do you want to land?
Do you want to work as the lead stand-in on a television series that works for nine months? Or are you happier with stand-in work on a series that needs you two to three days a week over three months? Does it matter to you whether you work jobs that only contribute to SAG Pension & Health? Or would you prefer to only work jobs that contribute to AFTRA Health & Retirement? Do you want to stand in for a particular actor? Do you want to work under a particular director?
The better you are able to answer questions about your stand-in goals, the more open you will be to them should the opportunities present themselves to you in the new year. Furthermore, the more clear you will be should a stand-in opportunity open up for you that is not aligned with your interests.
Write down some of your stand-in goals and put the list of goals in a place where you can easily see or access it. When you can see or access your goals easily when opportunities present themselves, you can more clearly make decisions about them and whether to accept the stand-in work or to turn it down.
What to Work On
You may be a very good stand-in — and you still may have things to work on as a stand-in. What are some of the common things you had trouble with as a stand-in in the past year? What can you do in the new year to improve your stand-in work?
There could be any number of things to work on. For example, you might suffer horribly in winter exteriors because you don’t have the proper gear. For the new year, you might focus on building up your stand-in gear so that you can take on winter exteriors with much less suffering.
Or perhaps you have trouble with remembering the little actions of your actor during a blocking rehearsal, and you find productions regularly get upset with you for not knowing your actor’s actions. What can you do to improve your ability to remember these actions? The better able you are to address this trouble, then you may find yourself enjoying stand-in work a lot more.
Stand-in work is rewarding for some and tiring for others. Looking back on your year of stand-in work may help you decide whether it is right for you to consider doing it in the new year. If you find it isn’t right, then you can more quickly decide to move to something else rather than suffer through another year of the work. Or if you find it is right for you, you can look for other opportunities and ways to up your game to make stand-in work even more fulfilling for you.
What other considerations do you make about stand-in work? What keeps you going or what makes you want to quit it? Share your thoughts below!