When a production goes to shoot a scene, there is a predictable sequence of events that unfolds most of the time. First, the director will rehearse with the actors. That rehearsal will involve only the director and the actors, and maybe the DP along with a few select crew members. This is called a “private rehearsal.”
Then, when the scene is worked out and the actors’ blocking set, the rehearsal will be opened up to the rest of the crew. This rehearsal is called the “marking rehearsal.” During the marking rehearsal, a camera assistant will lay marks down on the ground to denote positions the actors hit during the marking rehearsal.
Stand-Ins and Marking Rehearsals
Marking rehearsals are for department heads and for second team to watch. As a stand-in, you are a member of second team, and if the actor for whom you’re standing in is in the scene, you should be at the marking rehearsal.
However, some stand-ins — especially if they are new to set and don’t know a lot of the crew — get shy and hold back on getting into a place to see the marking rehearsal or their actor’s blocking. This can present a problem.
You Deserve to Be at Marking Rehearsal!
If you are holding back during a marking rehearsal from getting into a position to see, you need to change that. It is appropriate and important during a marking rehearsal to assert yourself enough to get in a good position to see your actor’s blocking.
Your job involves hitting your actor’s marks and doing your actor’s blocking. If you can’t see your actor in the marking rehearsal, you can’t do an important part of your job. You then rely on other crew members to share insights in your actor’s blocking — which is a drain on the other crew members’ energy.
Positioning Yourself in Order to See Marking Rehearsal
Are you tall? Is everyone else in the crew tall? You might try crouching down during marking rehearsal to watch.
Or maybe everyone else in the crew is short? If so, you might try moving back a bit so shorter crew members can see — but still make sure that you can see because it’s very important that you can.
Or are you short? You shouldn’t be in the back of taller crew members during marking rehearsal. You especially should get in front so that you can see!
Pay attention to the crew members you position yourself around. While it might not be a bad idea to position yourself near the DP during a marking rehearsal, it would be a bad idea to position yourself directly in front of the DP during marking rehearsal. Similarly with the director! Be mindful of the importance of crew members when you position yourself to watch the marking rehearsal, but still assert your need to be there.
Of course, there are exceptions. At times, production will not want or need you at the marking rehearsal. The location may be too tight, the scene may involve no blocking, or the actors may be involved in something too intimate to share with all crew.
In general, it’s best to present yourself during a marking rehearsal and have production release you if they don’t need you to see the scene. So, show up always, and let them shoo you away if they don’t need you.
Ultimately, as a stand-in, you deserve to be at marking rehearsal, and the belief that you deserve to be there needs to be unflappable. You are just as justified as other crew members to be at the marking rehearsal.
Have some added advice to stand-ins at marking rehearsal? Share your advice below!