The end of the year is approaching. In the past year, you may have stood in a little or a lot. You may have stood in for a few actors or for many. You may have picked up a thing or two, or things may have basically stayed the same for you.
Your experiences not only shape you — they are also marketable. If you’re more in touch with your experiences, when an opportunity to stand in presents itself, you may book the gig over other equally talented stand-ins.
Now is a great time to review your year of standing in and ask yourself what you want to achieve in your next year of standing in.
What Did You Do This Year?
Look back over your year of standing in and ask yourself what kinds of experiences you’ve had.
- Did you stand in long-term on a project?
- Did you stand in on a television show? a film? something else?
- Did you stand in for an A-list actor? famous person or celebrity? lead character? innumerable day players? (List them!)
- Did you work as a utility stand-in?
- Did you work as a photo-double?
- Did you work under an important director or on a notable project?
- Did you find yourself working in unusual situations, like reading lines off camera, standing in in water, playing basketball while standing in, … something else?
Your answers to the above questions may mean you have some very marketable stand-in experience. That is, not every stand-in can pull off these skills, and if you have before, you may be able to book future jobs based on your demonstrated competence.
Whom Do You Know Now?
Over the year you’ve met people and built relationships. Many of them are largely working relationships and some of them may be something more. Regardless of their nature, those relationships may leverage your getting future work.
Crew members you meet and get to know move on to new and different projects. The crew member you knew from that past job may show up on a new job that comes to town. Your relationship with that crew member may make it easier to get a job on that project — even if for just a day or two.
Take some time to review some of the people with whom you’ve worked over the past year, and ask yourself if you know where that crew member might be. Notable crew members to the stand-in are assistant directors (aka ADs), background PAs, background casting directors, and even DPs. All of these people can play a significant role in your getting onto a project, especially if you have a prior relationship with that person.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
Why do you stand in? Do you stand in because you find the experience “really cool”? Is it still “really cool” to you, or something else? Or are you trying to build industry contacts? Or are you trying to fulfill the necessary requirements for pension and health insurance? Do you just need money?
Knowing what you want to achieve when standing in will help you figure out what projects you want to focus on (television or film? SAG contract or AFTRA?) as well as what time of year you want to focus on them (when does your base earnings period end for health insurance qualification? should you stop pursuing projects once you’ve qualified for a pension credit?). Perhaps you want to stay working all year as a stand-in. Or perhaps you don’t, happy instead with one long-term gig. Or perhaps you’re happy with sporadic work amid an active audition life. Your call!
What’s Your Strategy in the New Year?
With the above knowledge, do you need to make changes in how you went about seeking work in the prior year? Do you need to try different strategies for landing stand-in work in the new year?
That is, will your current pursuits of stand-in work lead you to your stand-in goals, or will you need to make some changes?
Perhaps this year was a matter of taking whatever stand-in work you could get, but this coming year will be more a matter of using your experience and reputation to landing less sporadic, more consistent stand-in work. Or perhaps you want to leverage your experience for landing a spot on second team for a blockbuster film coming to town. Or perhaps you want to be more selective in the new year?
It’s really your call, and with the answers to the above questions, you will be armed with an approach in the face of the many temptations — stand-in and otherwise — that will confront you in the coming year.
Lastly, Have Your Updated Your Stand-In Résumé Lately?
If you happen to have a stand-in résumé, the end of the year might be the best time to update your stand-in résumé because projects are often on a short hiatus then and production all around typically slows down.
What do you do as a stand-in at the end of the year or the beginning of a new one? What are some things you’ve changed in the past and implemented in the year ahead? We’d like to hear! Post your stories below!