Dear Stand-In Central,

Casting postings say “stand-in experience.” I write back that I’ve been background and know my way around a set, but I don’t get picked. How does one gain experience if I can’t get any??

– Steve

Response from Ben Hauck

While patience is a virtue, you might be able to up your odds of getting booked as a stand-in by doing a number of things.

First off, if you are doing background, when you check in on set, tell the background PA that you’re interested in standing in if something is available. Make sure to be friendly to the background PA.  Nothing may come of your friendliness or stand-in interest, but that eagerness to stand in may make a difference in being remembered when a stand-in like you is needed. A job may go to you if you match an actor, plus if there aren’t a number of standout candidates. You’ll stand out more with your expressed interest in standing in.

When you are working background–and more especially if you finally get to stand in–without being annoying, make sure to meet and know the names of the ADs. In particular, know the name of the 2nd 2nd AD.  Do this if the opportunity is there, but if it looks unwelcome or inappropriate, hold off. If you meet the ADs and they get to know you, and trust you, you may find you’re pulled to stand in or even requested, else you may find that your knowing them encourages them to pick you in a future interview should you find yourself on one.

When you are submitting yourself for background roles, make your interest in standing in apparent in the Notes section, even if standing in is not mentioned in the posting. You might find that casting then assigns you to be “pulled” to stand in based on your interest. Putting your interest in the Notes section even when submitting for non-stand-in gigs may improve your chances of getting stand-in gigs in the future. The more you do this, the more casting may start to notice your interest.

It just takes one stand-in gig to say that you have stand-in experience.  When you finally have a little stand-in experience under your belt, start putting in the Notes “stand-in exp” or something to that effect.  With time, you’ll find that you have more opportunities coming to you to stand in.  Your reputation plays a significant role in your being repeatedly called.  Many casting directors use the same stand-ins time and again because they are reliable.  You may end up on casting director shortlists if you repeatedly demonstrate a solid, dependable reputation.

Lastly, stand on top of the responsibilities of a stand-in by reading Stand-In Central, especially the “What Is A Stand-In?” section as well as the Tips & Tricks Blog, which is updated every Wednesday at 10pm Eastern.  Being knowledgeable will help you feel comfortable when you finally get to stand in.

Do you have any tips for gaining experience as a stand-in, especially when you don’t have much?  How did you get stand-in experience?  If you have suggestions, please share them below!