From time to time when you are standing in, you will work in a scene that contains kissing.

Are stand-ins expected to kiss if the scene they’re standing in on contains kissing?  Here are some thoughts on the topic of standing in during a kissing scene.

Don’t Actually Kiss

To date, I’ve never stood in on a kissing scene wherein I was actually professionally required to kiss the other stand-in.

I would say based on my experience that kissing is never really expected of stand-ins, and there are effective workarounds for setting up a shot and lighting it that do not require stand-ins to actually kiss each other.

I would advise never to kiss another stand-in unless you’ve been hired explicitly for that job. Instead, I would recommend employing a workaround for kissing when you’re standing in.

Workarounds for Kissing

Depending on the shot for the kissing scene, stand-ins may do a number of things to represent kissing without actually kissing:

  • Get close.  Stand-ins may simply position their bodies or heads close to each other, which may be enough for lighting and setting up the kissing shot.
  • Touch cheeks without kissing. If a scene requires cheek kissing, simply touching cheeks is enough to represent cheek kissing. Touching cheeks may also be an effective way to represent kissing on the lips.
  • Touch noses. Touching noses may allow for better lighting and shooting of the kiss without actually kissing.
  • Touch foreheads. Again, touching foreheads may represent kissing well without actually forcing a kiss.

The position of the actors during marking rehearsal may dictate which workaround (or another workaround) is best for representing the kiss as a stand-in.  If in doubt, ask the camera department what suffices for setting up the moment of the kiss.

Work out with the Other Stand-In What You’ll Do

In general, never actually kiss the other stand-in in a kissing scene. Even better, work out with your fellow stand-in exactly how you’ll field the kiss before you stand in in the scene so that there’s no confusion that the the kiss will not actually be executed.

Keep in mind, though, that production may need you in a different head position than the non-kiss you agree on doing with the other stand-in.  If production actually calls for a kiss, do not do it — instead, ask if you can do something else instead. In my opinion, only if you mutually agree to kiss without feeling pressured to do so should you and your fellow stand-in kiss in a setup or rehearsal. If one of you feels pressured into agreeing to kiss, the kiss should not be done.

Make Sure You Have Fresh Breath

Few things are worse than standing in close to someone with halitosis.  Before you stand in on a kissing scene, make sure you brush your teeth and tongue and otherwise freshen your breath.  On days when you’re standing in in a kissing scene, be conscious of the foods you eat that may sour your breath.  Coffee, garlic, medication, etc., may spoil your breath and make it hard to freshen before the scene.

Also, if you have some, offer breath freshener to your fellow stand-in. Chewing gum may freshen breath, but it’s generally ill-advised to chew while you are standing in as it is distracting on camera.

In Case of Issues

If you find yourself in a compromising position with respect to kissing, hold strong to your principles with respect to kissing in scenes when working as a stand-in.  If you feel you have crossed a line or been forced over a line, consider speaking to an AD or even a union representative about the issue. While standing in sometimes puts the stand-in in some uncomfortable positions in front of a crew, avoid agreeing to do something you know you do not want to do.

How have you handled kissing as a stand-in? Have you ever truly kissed as a stand-in? Any interesting stories about kissing as a stand-in? Share your stories and insights below!