By | 2016-04-26T17:11:41+00:00 April 27th, 2016|Challenges, Concepts, Lessons, Principles, Terminology, Tips|2 Comments

If you’ve ever worked as a stand-in, you full well know that sometimes it feels as if you don’t know whether you’re doing a good job or a bad one.

You might call this feeling “stand-insecurity.” Here are some ways to address stand-insecurity in order to help you relax about doing the job.

Stand-Insecurity #1: Explaining Too Much

Insecure stand-ins may feel the need to over-explain to the camera crew or assistant directors.

When asked a question about their actor’s blocking, insecure stand-ins may explain their actor’s blocking not so much out of serving the camera crew but more as a means to establish their professionalism as a stand-in. As a result, they tend to share too much or give too complicated a response to a simple blocking question.

To address explaining too much, insecure stand-ins can relax by challenging themselves to provide simple answers to questions from crew. Sometimes the better answer to crew questions is “I don’t know” rather than a long rambling answer, guessing what the actor did in rehearsal.

Stand-Insecurity #2: Overcommitting to Character

It may be hard to gauge how much acting is being asked of you during a second-team rehearsal. “Do I read the lines?” “Do I perform the lines?” “Do I provide my own characterization?”

Insecure stand-ins, of course, may undercommit to character — which may be the more professional thing to do. But more problematic are those stand-ins who overcommit to character, thinking that their stand-in work will be lauded as a result.

Instead, in general, if you have to read the lines, at very least read the lines. And if you know the general characterization the actor did, mimic that performance within reason.

There is no need to break down to tears or take a long, dramatic pause during a monologue if your actor did that in marking rehearsal. Doing so does not serve your stand-in work, but rather wastes production time.

Stand-Insecurity #3: Getting Too Close

Similarly, the insecure stand-in who overcommits to character may feel the need to enact more intimate blocking the actor did during marking rehearsal.

For example, such a stand-in may feel the need, in a sex scene, to go through the same intimate actions the actor did when doing a second-team rehearsal.

Most of the time, this overcommitment to stand-in work is not wanted and even uncalled for. If you are standing in and your actor has to kiss or touch another actor in an intimate way, do not do this to the other stand-in. If you are pressed to do this by production, seek permission from the other stand-in before doing so because the other stand-in may object.

The above also applies to scenes that represent physical violence. If your actor slaps or hits another actor in the scene, do not do this to the other stand-in. Avoid doing it at all — or else, do a very slow motion portrayal of it with no contact. If production needs a full-speed second-team rehearsal, oftentimes a stunt performer will stand in for the rehearsal instead.


These are just three expressions of “stand-insecurity.” If you follow the principles outlined above, you can feel more secure as a stand-in when you are in potentially awkward or challenging positions on set.

What is another “stand-insecurity” that you can think of? How have you overcome your own “stand-insecurity”? Share your thoughts below!



About the Author:

Ben Hauck (Editor, Stand-In Central) has stood in on a number of projects shot in the NYC area. In addition to day-playing, he has stood in on major projects for John Oliver (Last Week Tonight), Jason Bateman (The Longest Week, Disconnect, and The Switch), Jason Sudeikis (Sleeping with Other People), Seth Rogen (The Night Before), and Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie and American Odyssey). Ben is an actor and improviser, author of the 2012 book Long-Form Improv (Allworth Press), and host of The Acting Income Podcast. http://benhauck.com


  1. Sara DeRosa April 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I would say another stand-insecurity is assuming your fellow stand-ins are not experienced and do not know what they are doing. If you have been standing on a project regularly, you may feel you are in a leadership role. And when new stand-ins come in for the day, you may feel you need to give them instructions about standing in. This is very frustrating for seasoned stand-ins, and it can be insulting to them if someone assumes they do not know how to do their job. My advice would be to introduce yourself and give tips about what may be particular to your set, such as reading the lines or not or getting color cover or not. But give “new” stand-ins to your set a chance – let them show you they are having trouble with the job before thinking about instructing them.

  2. Ben Hauck, Editor May 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I much agree with what you’re saying about introducing a set to a stand-in who hasn’t worked on the project, and giving that stand-in a chance “to sink or swim” — as well as to call out for help if needed.

    When I’ve been the sole regular stand-in on a project, I would usually give stand-ins new to the set a friendly overview of how things typically work on the set (“we don’t usually do lines,” “people are pretty nice,” etc.). I also point out the key players (the stand-in’s principal actor, the AD team, the director and DP, et al.). If I don’t know the stand-in, I might ask if that person has stood in before. If yes, I leave it at that. If no, I might give a few quick pointers. All done in a friendly, helpful manner that usually is much appreciated by the newcomer.

    Even if the person says “yes, I’ve stood in before,” sometimes that person really hasn’t stood in before, or has stood in but on a less-demanding job. In those cases, I might keep an eye out if the stand-in needs help.

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