Say that you’re standing in today and your calltime is 7am. You already know that in general “on time is late” for stand-ins, so you know to arrive for your day of work before your calltime.
Say that your calltime is around the same time the crew is in. What are some of the things you can get done before your calltime?
Collect Your Voucher
One of the first things you’ll likely want to do before your calltime is collect your voucher. This is not only so that you can get paid, but also so that you can collect your color cover. You will usually get your voucher from the background P.A. when you check in in holding.
If you’re told to report to set rather than holding, you might not get your voucher until later from the background P.A. In such a case, when you see the background P.A. later in the day, ask for your voucher. Else, you can collect your voucher from the background P.A. when you wrap.
On many sets, when you collect your voucher, you will also be handed sides. Sides are the scenes being shot today. On the cover of the sides is the callsheet, indicating a lot of information about the shoot today. Quickly study the callsheet on the cover of the sides to determine the name of the actor and character for whom you’re standing in as well as the location of set where you need to be.
If sides aren’t available from the background P.A., usually an A.D. on set will have sides to give you. Just ask, say, the 2nd 2nd A.D. It is very important that you have sides so that you know about the scene(s) in which you are involved, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Get Color Cover
Once you have your voucher, you can head to the wardrobe department to collect color cover. Color cover is clothing that is similar to the clothing worn by your actor in your scene(s). Make sure to at least have your name on your voucher–you trade your voucher for your color cover.
In some cases–such as when you are unable to collect your voucher–the wardrobe department might accept your union card in place of your voucher. Still other times the wardrobe department might require nothing from you in exchange for your color cover. Do your best in providing them what they need from you.
You might be responsible for several different items of color cover. Arriving before your calltime gives you an opportunity to find a place to set your extra color cover.
Set up “Stand-In Paradise”
When you arrive before your calltime, you can figure out a place near set to set your belongings.
Likely you will be entitled to a chair when on set, though sometimes you may have to be patient in getting a chair. Getting to set early may allow you some time to scavenge a chair to use and set up “Stand-In Paradise”–what I like to call the area near set where stand-ins’ chairs and belongings are.
When you’re called around the time crew is called, you may have time before your calltime to get breakfast. If you have a specific breakfast item in mind, keep in mind that other crew members are ordering items and you may need extra time to get your custom-made burrito, breakfast sandwich, etc.
If you see on the callsheet or hear from the background P.A. that you will be “NDB’d,” this means you will have a 15-minute period of time for breakfast. (“NDB” stands for “non-deductible breakfast” and helps to bring your lunchtime roughly in sync with the crew’s lunchtime.) If you’re being NDB’d, you might skip out on getting breakfast before your calltime so that you can get other things done.
Scope Out the Location
When you’re at a new location, it can be helpful to find the set before your calltime. If you’re called to holding, sometimes set will be a considerable walk from holding. Arriving early can help you figure out how close set is as well as manage how much of the above you can realistically get done before your calltime.
Scope Out the Bathrooms
Since it may be hard to find time to step off set to hit the bathroom, knowing where the bathrooms are can help you estimate how quickly you can get in and out of the bathroom when you’re working.
Knowing where the bathrooms are (or aren’t!) may also help you regulate how much you hydrate yourself in the morning. If a bathroom is far away from set, it might be a good idea to watch your liquid intake.
So, How Much Time Before Your Calltime Should You Arrive?
If you did all of the above in a studio where holding, set, the wardrobe department, and breakfast are close, you could get all of the above done in a few minutes. If you’re at a location where things are sprawled out, all of the above could take 15-30 minutes.
Given that “on time is late,” generally aim to arrive 15-45 minutes before your calltime when you’re standing in. 45 minutes before your calltime probably is at the level of overachievement, but in most cases it will allow you plenty of time to get the above done and enjoy your morning. Giving yourself 15 minutes may make you a bit crazed if you try to get all of the above done, but it may also be just enough time.
What things do you try to get done before your calltime? Are there other things you try to get done before your calltime? We’d like to hear. Post your response below!