While Stand-In Central provides a ton of information on how to do the job of the TV/film stand-in, and while it provides a comprehensive handbook on standing in called The Stand-In Handbook, we thought it might be fun to distill the job of standing in even further in case you’re suddenly pulled to stand in and can’t review the website’s simple overview of the job.
So, say you’re very suddenly pulled from working as a background actor and ushered to set. Also say that there has already been a rehearsal of the scene so you don’t know what’s really going on, and you don’t know your actor from Adam or Eve.
What are the very basics of standing in? Here are our thoughts.
Find Your Mark(s)!
First of all, when you are pulled to stand in, you are now part of what is called “second team.” Whenever you hear second team called for, get to set as quickly as possible!
When you arrive on set, ask the 2nd 2nd AD or even another stand-in which are your marks. Your marks are usually colored pieces of tape or some other demarcation on the floor often in the shape of a T. These marks dictate where your feet should go. Put your toes against the underside of the T’s top (parallel with the trunk of the letter) and you’re good to go. This is called “toeing the mark.”
Stand on the first mark, which might have a “1” written on it. Many times you’ll have a single mark, which is bonus if you’re pulled without seeing rehearsal. If you see additional marks, it might be helpful to ask the 2nd 2nd AD or another stand-in what your “blocking” is — that is, what movements you do at what time in the scene.
Review Your Sides!
You’ve likely been given “sides” for the scene. Sides are the script for the scene. Figure out which is your character and familiarize yourself with the scene and its lines. Rarely will you say lines, but on some projects it’s common to say the lines.
However, familiarize yourself with the scene by keeping your head up! The director of photography (“the DP”) and the camera crew may be looking at you closely and probably need your face visible and head up as they place lights and set up the camera. Keep aware of their instructions as you familiarize yourself with the scene.
Move on Action, Not Background Action!
If you’re asked to do a rehearsal, you might be accustomed to moving on the cue “Background action!” Hold back when you’re standing in and avoid moving until you hear “Action!”
When you hear “Action!,” do the blocking. It might be helpful to go through the blocking slowly rather than quickly. Also, it might be a good idea if you have more than one mark, to wait for the camera crew to cue you to move to your next mark — especially if you didn’t see the rehearsal.
When You’re Dismissed, Stay Close!
When you’re dismissed by an AD from the set, you leave set, but stay close to set. A good pointer is to congregate where the stand-ins congregate when they’re off set. Another good pointer is to go where the monitors are, though hang back a bit as there are a lot of important crew members who also need to see the monitors.
Overall, stay in earshot of set. If you need to step off to go to the restroom, always tell a PA or AD. The best time to do this usually is when you are just about to roll on the first take. If the production tends to shoot quickly and if the restroom is a little far, you might need to try to go to the restroom sooner than this. Feel out the best time to go and quickly get back to set. More than likely, you’ll be back on set soon enough for the next camera setup!
That’s about It!
There is plenty more to standing in, which you can find in the “What Is A Stand-In?” section of this website. But these tips should get you through a sudden stand-in gig!
Do you have any other pointers in a simple crash course for standing in? Post your tips below!