As far as I can tell, getting involved in standing in involves a bunch of luck. That’s basically how I see how I ended up working regularly as a stand-in. One day out of nowhere a casting director calls me to submit my picture for regular stand-in work on a film. Some weeks later, I get the call that I got the interview. The day of the interview, I start working, and the next day I get confirmation that I got the job.
As far as I can tell, there is next to nothing you can do to land a stand-in position at a stand-in interview. You are at the mercy of human choice. For all you know, everyone at the stand-in interview may be essentially equal, so picking one person over another may be random. Of course, you might know someone, and knowing someone might be an advantage. But then again, it might not be an advantage. You really don’t know what is wanted. Knowing that, I relax and say to myself, It’s basically outta my hands, and I hope for the best.
For some, getting the interview is a process in and of itself. It may involve submitting yourself after a casting call goes out for someone fitting your stats. Often these calls ask for candidates within a 2-inch height range, along with a specific hair color and maybe a hint of weight range. From there, if you get a call from casting, the casting director will seek your approval to submit your photo (to production, i.e., presumably the assistant director or director). If production wants to bring you in, then the casting director will arrange to have you go in for the interview. This kind of process may be in place for long-term stand-in gigs. For day-playing as a stand-in, usually the process is a matter of submitting yourself then booking the gig.
The stand-in interview is nothing like your standard interview. If anything, it is more like a go-see. There is no sitting down to talk to the director, no submission of résumé and checking of references. Of course, these things can happen, but their occurrence would be atypical. My familiarity with the stand-in interview is the lining up of a handful of candidates, the giving of a once- or twice-over by maybe the director of photography, and then the picking. When I booked my first big stand-in gig, I was up against 3 other affable gents. The DP put the lead actor in the center, flanked by two of us on either side of him. We faced front, turned profile, turned the other profile, and switched places. Then, I think the DP weeded out two, then suddenly the other, leaving me standing. It was as if clouds had parted: I got the gig.
Well, I didn’t exactly “get the gig” until I got the confirmation call from casting the next day. What made me somewhat insecure after being picked was that the stand-in they chose for the female lead overheard that they were not really interested in using her. This seemed strange to me, and while I didn’t think we were in the same boat since she really was quite unlike the female lead, it did rattle me a bit. It left me completely nerveracked by the next afternoon, wondering if I had indeed booked the gig. “You never really know until you know, and even then, you might never really know …”
Why did I get the gig? Maybe it was because I was similar-enough looking to the principal actor. I could say that was the case, but honestly, I don’t really know. The DP probably only really knows, because he’s the one who picked me. For all I know, he liked my dimple.
Stand-in interviews run the gamut. I’ve had a stand-in interview when the director grumpily eliminated all of the candidates because at profile, none of us had the prominent nose the principal actor had. I’ve had a stand-in interview when no one was noticeably reviewed but suddenly one person got the job; presumably someone reviewed us from afar. I’ve also gotten regular stand-in work where I was never interviewed nor ever told I’d booked anything. In that case, one day of stand-in work led to another, and then another, and then another, suggesting to me that I’d booked something regular without actually being told it. In truth, there was a handful of days when logistics had someone else standing in for “my” actor, but generally speaking I seemed to have had the job, only along with some mild insecurity that I really had nuttin’.
The moral of the story is, there’s little to expect when it comes to the stand-in interview, and there’s little you can do. Show up, follow instructions, and hope for the best.
If you have any unique experiences interviewing for a stand-in position, or any advice, feel free to share below.