Blocking is the movement of an actor from one place to another place in a scene. The places where the actor starts and ends up are designated on a film or television set with tape or some similar designation. These designations are called “marks.”
The stand-in’s most noticeable job on set — and perhaps most important — is to stand on his or her actor’s mark. But what if your actor walks in a scene and you have to rehearse those movements? How do you hit the second mark in a second team rehearsal?
This post gives you some tips for hitting your mark when you are standing in.
Height & Stride
If you are close to the height of the actor for whom you’re standing in, there’s a good chance your strides will be about the same.
This means that as you step from one mark to another mark, it may take about the same amount of steps to get there. In other words, you may end up at a second mark at the end of stride rather than in the middle of one. So you may not have to think too much about getting to a mark when you are close in height to your actor.
But if you are of quite a different height than your first-teamer, then it may not be so natural to land on your actor’s mark. That’s when some other tips for hitting your mark may come in handy.
Briefly Look Down ahead of the Mark
As the stand-in, the shot is not all about your performance. This means that should you look down briefly to look for your mark, doing so doesn’t mean as much as it does for your first-team actor, who may have to more effortlessly and inconspicuously land on the mark.
So take a peek: Look ahead for your mark in order to land on it. You can do this obviously by glancing quickly for it, or your can do this less obviously by making sure it is in your field of vision even if you are not explicitly looking for it.
While it’s important for your actor to hit the mark and to give a solid performance in doing so, for you as a stand-in, it’s only important for you to hit the mark. Sacrifice your performance if necessary.
Look for Landmarks to Gauge Your Mark
The marks on the ground for your actor may be close to a set piece. If the set piece is tall enough, you might be able to navigate yourself to your mark by steering toward the set piece, and landing on your mark as a result.
Keep in mind that some set pieces are movable or even removable. So, if you score your blocking relative to landmarks, you may be in for a surprise when they move slightly or are completely removed. Some set pieces are on wheels, which makes them obviously movable. But even walls can be taken away on some sets!
Small shift in set pieces can take you away from your marks, so use caution in hitting your mark by way of navigating toward landmarks.
Howcast put out a video gauged toward actors that offers tips on hitting marks — tips that may also be of use to stand-ins. Check it out:
Hitting marks is very important for setting up shots in TV and film. So when you are standing in, make hitting your marks a priority over any kind of performance in rehearsals. Leave the acting to the actors and you’ll do just as you should on most stand-in jobs.
Have any other tips for hitting your marks when you are standing in? Post your ideas below!