Perhaps you just book a stand-in gig and you’re told you’re going to be “utility.”

What exactly is a utility stand-in?  Well, glad you asked!

What a Utility Stand-In Is

Most stand-ins match their actor’s height, hair color, and skin tone.  However, some productions don’t need their stand-ins to match their actors that closely.  In fact, these same productions may just need a few stand-ins to cover the number of actors shooting that day so that production has people to light and use for camera rehearsals during setups.

These stand-ins are utility stand-ins.  If you are booked to work as a utility stand-in, take this to mean that you will probably be standing in for more than one actor.  In some cases, you might be booked as a utility stand-in for your height, since there may be a few actors working in your height range.  Other times it might simply be that you’re booked as a utility stand-in for your gender since there may be a few male or female actors working and your appearance doesn’t really matter.  In still other times, you  might simply get the job for no other reason than someone chose you or you just kept getting booked, and you stood in for whomever.

The Challenges of Working as a Utility Stand-In

While utility stand-in jobs are rarely as demanding as more dedicated stand-in jobs (because usually these jobs don’t ask as much of their stand-ins), utility stand-in jobs can sometimes be a little more difficult than dedicated stand-in jobs.

A utility stand-in will need to be familiar with more characters than just a single character or scene.  You will need to be aware of which scenes your actors are working and be ready for different ways the actors work in marking rehearsal.  You may need to be a more careful study of your actors and figure out your physical differences (like height) in case the camera department is curious in setting up the shot.  You may also need to juggle different sets of color cover.  If you are working background on top of working as a utility stand-in, then you may have your job cut out for you!

The Fun of Working as a Utility Stand-In

As a utility stand-in, you are much like the “Swiss Army knife” of stand-ins, able to fill any camera setup need.  You may also get to do wildly different things in standing in for different characters that a more dedicated stand-in might not experience.  With that, if you’re a working regularly as a utility stand-in on a particular set, you may get to meet a number of working actors as they cycle into the production.  Working as a utility stand-in keeps things interesting.

Have you had any great experiences working as a utility stand-in?  What tips do you have for stand-ins booked for utility work?  If you have comments, share below!