When you are standing in, a camera assistant will lay a mark at your feet. Usually it is a “tab” (a single piece of tape) or it is a “tee” (a couple pieces of tape in the form of the letter T). This indicates where your actor stood in the scene, and where you should stand when you are standing in.
Often when you are standing in, you will be asked to reposition yourself. Sometimes that repositioning will be considerable, and sometimes it will be slight.
The question many stand-ins face then is, “Should I re-mark myself?”
While there is no absolute answer for all situations, here is some general advice to consider.
In General, Don’t Re-Mark Yourself
When it comes to marking and re-marking yourself, in general, don’t do it. This is because it is someone else’s job on a TV or film set to mark and re-mark you.
That person is the camera assistant. You can usually distinguish the camera assistant from the rest of the crew as the person who is wearing on a belt a lot of different rolls of tape in various colors.
This person is also frequently working from the floor on his or her knees, laying marks. During a marking rehearsal, the camera assistant (or camera assistants, if there is more than one camera and actor working in a shot) will be laying down tabs where the actors stand, and will later tee these tabs off.
If you are a union stand-in on a set with union crew, think of it this way: The labor on set is divided up. You do the stand-in work. Other crew members do their work. It is part of the camera assistant’s job to lay marks for you and to re-mark you as needed. It’s not the camera assistant’s job to stand in.
In Tough Situations, In General, Ask Permission Before Re-Marking Yourself
If you are standing in in a place that is difficult for a camera assistant to access you — say, you are high up in the air on a platform, or surrounded by a lot of equipment in cramped quarters — it might make sense for you to re-mark yourself after your position changes.
In general, rather than doing that on your own, ask permission from the camera operator or camera assistant whether it is okay for you to re-mark yourself.
If permission is granted, re-mark yourself that one time. Avoid taking that as carte blanche permission to re-mark yourself every time.
Sometimes Marking and Re-Marking Is a “Science”
While it might look like two pieces of tape on the ground, your mark sometimes has a very thought-out design.
For one, each color of mark/tape represents a different actor. Furthermore, some camera assistants will fold down parts of the tape to make it easier to remove or move than if it were not folded. Camera assistants may also “dot” a tee mark to indicate where the tee mark was in the event they have to pull it because it is in the shot. The dot helps to show where the tee mark was originally placed.
If you try to mark or re-mark yourself, you may trouble the camera assistants or make their work look bad to their other crew members. Letting the camera assistants do their own jobs helps them to look good in front of their bosses and let them control the look of their work.
When Re-Marking Might Be Okay
Not all marks are tape. Different floors dictate different kinds of marks. For example, if you are working on grass or sand, you might see different colors of beanbag tees rather than tape.
If you have a very slight move or pivot in place when working around, say, beanbag marks, in general, allow the camera assistant to change the mark accordingly. However, if that move is not seen or hard to perceive, on rare occasions it may be okay to pivot or move the beanbag mark by yourself accordingly.
Do that only rarely — avoid making a policy of that. You generally want the camera assistant to do the work of re-marking you.
Asking to Be Re-Marked
Similarly, it is usually the camera department’s job to order marking and re-marking, so let them ask for you to be re-marked if your mark changes.
However, occasionally, you will be moved to a new position that technically should be re-marked, but then beckoned somewhere else. For example, before you have been re-marked, you might be asked to go to a later mark, or you might be excused by the 1st AD.
If the camera assistant has not re-marked you, it is a good idea to ask or tell the camera crew or the 1st AD about being re-marked. You can ask “Should I get re-marked?” or “Do I need to be re-marked?” You could also simply say, cooperatively, “I need to be re-marked.”
Usually that happens soon after it’s clear you need a new mark.
In general, simply let other crew members do the work in their jurisdiction. So when it comes to marking or re-marking you, don’t do it yourself. Instead, let the appropriate camera assistant handle it. Most of the time these camera assistants are more than happy to oblige.
But if the situation is extraordinary, you might find that re-marking yourself is okay. If you’re not sure whether it would be okay, simply ask someone else, and stay in your place until you are re-marked.
How do you handle the need to be re-marked? Share your advice in the comments below!