I have been asked to do a “camera test” for a stand-in position on Thursday and I need some advice or maybe an article to read that may help. I’ve never done stand-in work before but I have been working as a background actor. What should I expect when I do the test? Is there a preferred way to wear hair and makeup? Any advice will be helpful since I have no clue what to do.
Response from Ben Hauck
So good to hear from you. Thanks for writing Stand-In Central!
If you’re doing a camera test, beforehand you might also have an “interview.” Or the camera test may double as a sort of “interview.” Not “interview” in the sense of day-job kinds of interviews. Basically, production looks at you, maybe works with you, and figures out if they’d like to use you again or for the beginning or entirety of the project.
To date, I’ve done a couple of camera tests. At each camera test, production was mostly just setting up the camera and filming different outfits on the actors, though they also seemed to test out some unique kinds of shots in one of the camera tests I did. As far as direction I received, I was simply told an eyeline off camera at which to look and to basically stand in place. I think the only actions I did were walk forward, if that.
Just before one camera test was an interview; four guys were there and the DP chose me. For the other camera test, I was the only one there, and the presumption was that if I worked well at the camera test, I’d work the rest of the project (which I did).
We have a little bit of guidance already on the website with respect to “interviewing.” Here’s a link to those posts, both of which should give you some help. Sara DeRosa wrote an excellent article on hair for women, and that may help you figure out how to do it:
Of course, you can also search around the website by clicking on the button between the red and blue sections on the website. I try to keep headlines pretty descriptive, so some other posts may catch your attention.
For now, I hope that helps!
Response from Sara DeRosa
Hi Andrea! Congratulations on your camera test opportunity!
I have been to several stand-in interviews and some camera tests. There is a little bit of a difference between getting called for an “interview” and getting called for a “camera test.”
When you are called for an interview, there are usually several people there who are up for the same stand-in position as you. They usually line up the group of people all at once and go from there. Sometimes the DP will take a look at all of you, looking for height, hair color/style/length, and sometimes specific facial bone structure. Or you may just meet the assistant director who will ask you questions about your experience. I know you mentioned that you don’t have experience, and I would suggest to you that you should be honest about that if asked. Experience is not necessarily the most important factor. The casting director thinks you would be good for the job, so have confidence in that.
For a camera test, production will be putting potential stand-ins in front of the camera, and you will paid for a full day of work. Be prepared to stay the whole day if they need you. Sometimes they call in a few women to interview first, then choose only one to stay for the camera test to actually work. The others who are not chosen will be paid an interview rate (one quarter of the full-day rate). But sometimes they pre-select stand-ins to test out, and it is possible that you are the only person they called to come in for the camera test. Don’t be afraid to ask the casting director questions when casting calls you. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask for a little more information so that you know if you should be available for a potential longer-term job.
As far as hair and makeup goes, I try to match the actress that I am going in for. If she has a signature style that she tends to stick to (like Jennifer Aniston — hair straight and parted down the middle), I will go in looking like that. If it is an actress who has lots of different styles, just stay more neutral — no hair styles that are too “done up.” Wear a hair elastic on your wrist or put clips in your pocket so you can put up your hair right then and there if production wishes to see that. For makeup, you should wear some, even if you normally don’t — at least some foundation to even out your skin tone. Again, think neutral — no bright eyeshadows or lipsticks.
For clothing, I would suggest wearing jeans and a plain, solid-colored top in a neutral color. Nothing bright, nothing busy. You should wear flat shoes, because you were likely called in to match the actress’s height. But you should bring a pair of comfortable heels with you, too. The actress might wear heels throughout the shoot, and production may want to see you in heels as well for height purposes.
I hope this helps you with your camera test, Andrea! Check out information on the site about the technical aspects of standing in, and you’ll be well prepared for whatever comes your way. Thanks for writing in, and good luck!
Do you have additional advice for camera tests? If so, post below!