If It Weren’t Called a “Stand-In,” What Would You Call Your Job?

By | 2017-03-09T07:29:41+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Challenges, Humor, In Culture, Lessons|2 Comments

This is a post about what the term “stand-in” means … and what different names you might have for stand-ins.

In film and television, stand-ins are people who are used behind the scenes in order to set up shots. They are helpful for setting up and focusing lights as well as training camera operators on shots.

Stand-ins help take some of the waiting off of the principal actors on a production, allowing them to get into wardrobe, have their hair and makeup done, or relax before they have to shoot the scene.

Different Uses of the Term “Stand-In”

In union film and television, the term “stand-in” has a pretty specific meaning in that it refers to a particular kind of worker.

SAG-AFTRA‘s collective bargaining agreements distinguish between “stand-ins,” “photo doubles,” “body doubles,” and “stunt performers,” all of whom are conflated in popular writing about the entertainment industry. In truth, each of those terms refers to quite different levels of pay as well as different responsibilities when working on a set.

So, the term “stand-in” has a pretty specific meaning in film and television. But in life, the term “stand-in” has a more general meaning, referring to anyone who steps in, usually on a temporary basis, for another person. For example, in sports, you might hear of a stand-in coach or a stand-in goalie, which is respectively a coach or goalie who is subbing for the regular coach or goalie.

One Other Name for TV/Film Stand-Ins

It’s true that in film and television, a stand-in does not have to be called a “stand-in.” In an article from Variety from 1944, the writer uses the term “focus object” to refer to a stand-in:

Article about the Elmer Awards from Variety (154:1)

Article about the Elmer Awards from Variety (154:1)

What Else Would You Call a Stand-In?

What if you had the opportunity to rename the job of the film and television stand-in? What would you call it?

Give it some thought, or share your gut reaction.

What else would you call a TV/film stand-in? Post your alternate names for the job 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 March 23, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I think being called a “stand-in” works on sets and it works in terms of SAG-AFTRA contracts when differentiating between stand-ins, photo-doubles, body doubles, and stunt doubles. But when I tell someone outside of the industry that I work behind the scenes in film and TV as a stand-in, most people don’t know what that means. So I’ll often refer to myself at first as a “double”. People seem to have a better sense of what my job might be when I use the word double. Sometimes they ask if I’m a stunt double, but then I’ll explain that I’m called a stand-in and I tell them what a stand-in does. I can’t think of a totally new term I would pick, but I will continue to use the word “stand-in” on set and “double” outside of the industry.

  2. Ben Hauck, Editor March 23, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Wow! What a great idea! The implication being that there are a number of different kinds of doubles. I never thought about it that way!

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