Maybe it’s something you do as a bit of a habit or tick. Say, when standing still, you can’t really stand still, and you feel the need to move a little. Sway a little.
While swaying when you are standing in on a TV or film shoot my seem innocuous enough, most of the time, swaying may be an issue for a stand-in, especially if you are not aware you do it or can’t control it.
Why does swaying matter?
Swaying Makes It Harder to Set up a Shot
If you are a swayer when you stand in, you make it hard for the DP to light you and especially for the camera department to line up a shot.
The DP will be trying to light you, and the shadows on your face may be interesting for the DP to see. But if you are swaying, you may be changing those shadows on your face or where the light falls on you. It would be better to stay still so the DP knows where the light hits you and where the shadows fall.
The camera department will probably have more issue with you swaying on a tighter shot than one from far away, but generally speaking swaying will not help the camera department either. Not only might it possibly be hard to focus on you, but you also might sway in and out of the shot, and you might make it hard to understand what will be behind you in the shot.
Stand-In Work Is Important!
As you can probably tell, standing in is not simply standing on a mark, not doing anything significant.
To the contrary, on some jobs, some days, and some shots, the work of the stand-in is very important!
So zoning out, not paying attention, getting distracted, and even swaying can all have real consequences on production time, the setup of the shot, and the energy of the crew.
How to Stop Swaying?
Paying attention to your surroundings when you are standing in probably will make some difference if you are a swayer. Listening intently for your name and any instructions will keep you alert. Swaying can be a sign that you are not listening, not in tune with your environment, or are in a different headspace than the setup of a shot.
If you are wearing shoes that promote rocking in place, they may have some influence on whether you sway, so wearing different shoes may help stop the habit.
Your stance could also have an influence on whether you are inclined to sway. Finding a more erect or balanced stance may promote more stillness as a stand-in and less swaying.
If you are caffeinated, you may feel the urge to move more, which could lend to swaying. If that happens to you, cutting back on your caffeine or avoiding it before important shots you’re involved in may help you to stop swaying while standing in.
We’re Not Preaching Absolute Stillness!
When you are standing in, stillness is generally a good skill to master. But we’re not talking about a stillness that could get your confused for a statue!
Standing on a mark in a relaxed but focused way, keeping in tune with the moving crew and equipment around you, is plenty good — and plenty hard for some people to do! It means you are not comically still, you are able to move if the need arises because of moving equipment, and you are aiding the setup of the shot.
Of course, there may be camera setups so close that absolute stillness may be a virtue — but these stand-in situations are less common, usually more when the camera is tightly focused on you (such as in an insert shot, a shot with a macro lens, or when your character is very close in the foreground).
Do you sway when you stand in? Do you have other habits that you have to rein in when you’re standing in? What tips do you have for others in correcting any of these habits? Share your thoughts in the comments below!