This is a post about what the term “stand-in” means … and what different names you might have for stand-ins.

In film and television, stand-ins are people who are used behind the scenes in order to set up shots. They are helpful for setting up and focusing lights as well as training camera operators on shots.

Stand-ins help take some of the waiting off of the principal actors on a production, allowing them to get into wardrobe, have their hair and makeup done, or relax before they have to shoot the scene.

Different Uses of the Term “Stand-In”

In union film and television, the term “stand-in” has a pretty specific meaning in that it refers to a particular kind of worker.

SAG-AFTRA‘s collective bargaining agreements distinguish between “stand-ins,” “photo doubles,” “body doubles,” and “stunt performers,” all of whom are conflated in popular writing about the entertainment industry. In truth, each of those terms refers to quite different levels of pay as well as different responsibilities when working on a set.

So, the term “stand-in” has a pretty specific meaning in film and television. But in life, the term “stand-in” has a more general meaning, referring to anyone who steps in, usually on a temporary basis, for another person. For example, in sports, you might hear of a stand-in coach or a stand-in goalie, which is respectively a coach or goalie who is subbing for the regular coach or goalie.

One Other Name for TV/Film Stand-Ins

It’s true that in film and television, a stand-in does not have to be called a “stand-in.” In an article from Variety from 1944, the writer uses the term “focus object” to refer to a stand-in:

Article about the Elmer Awards from Variety (154:1)

Article about the Elmer Awards from Variety (154:1)

What Else Would You Call a Stand-In?

What if you had the opportunity to rename the job of the film and television stand-in? What would you call it?

Give it some thought, or share your gut reaction.

What else would you call a TV/film stand-in? Post your alternate names for the job below!