Dear Stand-In Central,

I have a question. I stand in regularly on a TV show. Occasionally I trade contact info with people who stand in a day here or there. Sometimes these people text me with questions about the schedule for the next day. The thing is, I don’t always feel comfortable  about giving out this information. Do you have any advice about giving out this info to others? Thanks.

– A Flustered Stand-In

Hi Flustered,

That can be a tricky situation to be in!  Here are a couple perspectives from Stand-In Central on your question.  Thanks for the email, and I hope the responses help you figure out how to field requests for preliminary information in the future.

– The Editor

Response from Sara DeRosa:

Sara DeRosa

As working actors, we are always trying to balance work, auditions, and life in general. Situations may arise where you are asked to stand in on a project for the next day, but you have an audition or another important obligation. Asking a stand-in on the project for information about the advanced schedule can be extremely helpful. You can find out what part of the day you are expected to be called in, and if you will be needed all day or not. Also, you may want to find out where the filming location is that day.

However, schedules on sets are always changing. Even when filming has already begun for the day, the scene order could be switched, or you may be asked to stay to stand in for another actor. Also, the preliminary information that you get for the next day could change before the final callsheet is released at wrap time that day.

When asked for advanced schedule information, I would advise you only to give it out to people  you know well and you can trust with the information. Locations and advanced storylines are private information. Some sets are so protective about this information that they only give sides and advanced schedules to a select few crew members, or you are asked to sign out these documents and are required to return them at wrap time.   If you don’t feel comfortable giving out this information for any reason, simply don’t do it.

Response from Ben Hauck:

Ben Hauck

Giving out preliminary information is no simple matter.  If someone asking you for preliminary information thinks giving it out is “no big deal,” he is mistaken: It can be a very big deal.  There are several factors to consider before giving out preliminary information.

First off, who is asking you for the information is probably the biggest factor for determining whether to give out preliminary information.  If the person is a trusted source who can keep the information confidential, who will appreciate that the information may change, and who will not hold you responsible for decisions that person makes should you make a mistake in relaying the information, you may find in that person someone who knows how to take preliminary information.

However, not all people are like this.  If you don’t know a person well, then you don’t know whether he’ll keep the information private, whether he’ll understand that the schedule could completely flipflop, or whether he’ll be upset with you if you make a mistake in relaying information.  If the person turns out to be one of these problems for you, it could cause you undue stress, stress you could have spared had you not given out the information.

Also, relaying preliminary information to another person can consume both time and attention.  Texting the minute details of the prelim and fielding the numerous questions the other person may have can disrupt your work.  If you have numerous people asking you, the consumption of your time and attention is multiplied.  Remember, it is not your job to give out preliminary information.  If a person wants preliminary information, typically she must refer questions to the casting director.  This is not standard operating procedure, but professionally speaking it is probably the optimal path to take.

Giving out preliminary information may also interfere with the job of the casting director.  Say that you are close with several stand-ins who are not working on a day you are.  Say also that you text them that they won’t be needed tomorrow.  Based on that information, say they go book other work.  Say, then, that the advanced schedule changes and forces the need for the stand-ins who booked other work.  While the casting director may have had them available because the stand-ins were in the dark about the schedule, with your information the casting director now may need to scramble to book new stand-ins.  If it gets back that you had given out this information, you might look bad.  Then again, you might not, but it seems to me that giving out preliminary information to others, though it may benefit them, may circumvent casting.

Considering the above, if you are familiar and friendly with the person requesting information, it is probably safe to give out preliminary information (if it is not confidential information).  Do it when you have the time and avoid making it a priority when you are busy on set.

And if you don’t feel comfortable giving out preliminary information?  Then you can always field a request for information by saying three simple words: “I don’t know.”  Technically, you don’t know: You don’t know what will turn out the next day.  Plans can be so much in fluctuation on a set that making a prediction is next to impossible.  Saying “I don’t know” can be a safe, proper, and professional response to a request for preliminary information, especially when you feel uncomfortable giving it out.

One last note: Protect yourself.  Some people will request preliminary information from you but not provide it to you when you request it.  Other people will regularly request preliminary information, rather than requesting it occasionally.  Again, is it not your job to give out preliminary information.  You may always ignore a request for preliminary information if providing the information has become a nuisance to you.

Do you have advice on how to field requests for preliminary information?  Any stories from experience on the effects of giving out preliminary information?  If so, post them below!