Recently when standing in on a film, I found myself in a tricky situation.
My name is Ben. I was standing in for a character named Rich, played by an actor named Jason.
I worked in scenes with another stand-in named Erin. She was standing in for a boy. Her character was named Ben.
So, when I heard things like, “Move to your right, Ben,” I did not know if the camera crew was telling me to move or the other stand-in to move. I would move or Erin would move, or sometimes both of us would move, when only one Ben was needed to move. The experience was a touch flustering as the camera crew set up the shot.
In the same film, I worked in scenes with another stand-in whose character was named Jason. While the issue never arose, it could have: “Move to your right, Jason” could have referred either to the other stand-in or to me (since my actor’s name was Jason).
Given this experience, I realized the value of having a unique nickname on hand for when your name matches another’s name when you’re standing in.
Struggling with Nicks and Names
On this particular project, the name problem was further compounded by having two other Bens who worked for the production. I thought I might go by “Benjamin” … until the first production Ben introduced himself to me as “Benjamin.” By this time, I just got used to the occasional confusion and didn’t come up with a nickname. But, boy, would it have been helpful at the start if I came up with something?
Since my last name (Hauck) isn’t as easy to remember as my first name, using my last name as my nickname wasn’t a great option. Perhaps I could have gone by (cringe) “Benji” or (uck) “Benny,” but these ideas (fortunately) didn’t come to me.
A nickname I figured would only be helpful if it a) were memorable, and b) were marketable. That is, my nickname had more value if (hypothetically) someone could request me from casting by the name. “Benji” meets a) but probably doesn’t meet b). “Hauck” meets b) but probably doesn’t meet a). Ah, the rub!
Finding a Nickname
You’re probably lucky if you have a unique nickname on hand. If so, this might be a good time to whip it out or have it on the ready.
However, if you don’t have a nickname, now might be the chance to think of one. Tomorrow, you might be on set with three stand-ins with your same name, in a scene in which one of the characters also has the same name! (Imagine trying to block that scene–or don’t.)
In choosing a nickname, having it be marketable (i.e., related to your branding, i.e., related to your professional name) helps should the production want to bring you back, especially after some time has passed. If production calls casting asking for “that Benji guy,” casting might not be able to figure out who you are to call you back in. But if production calls asking for “that Hauck guy,” there’s a better chance of your being found and brought back.
Then again, it might not matter! A funny situation, though, and one to think about if you have a common name.
What is some advice you have for choosing on-set nicknames? Would it be better of a camera crew gave you a nickname? Have you had any funny experiences with actor, stand-in, and character names on set? If so, share below!