Central Casting’s YouTube channel features an interview with an assistant director on how to become a stand-in.
In the interview, second assistant director Molly Rodriguez reveals her process in securing a stand-in. To first learn how to become a stand-ins, Rodriguez says, “If you’re on a set, pay attention. Watch what the other stand-ins are doing. You’ll probably pick up on some good habits and some bad habits just by watching stand-ins.”
In order to get your first stand-in job, Rodriguez gives insight into the pre-booking steps. “I need somebody to stand in for J. Lo … Usually I’ll say [to the background actor casting director] the DP wants somebody with the same height and same hair color she did in her last movie … So if your pictures on the [casting director’s] website … represent that picture [of the actor],” you may end up with an interview for the stand-in job.
Then, “When you come into the interview, and you sound like a team player, and you sound like a person that has a great attitude, you got a job.” Rodriguez adds, “You just have to be professional. You’re held to a higher standard on the set when you’re a stand-in, so that’s why there’re interviews. And it’s little pickier.”
Rodriguez explains the layers of approval that may affect your hiring as a stand-in. “We have to make sure the DP likes you.” In addition, “Sometimes the director has feedback on it, if it’s a feature. Or if it’s a TV show, sometimes the directors are producers as well, so they might have feedback. Of course, the ADs want to know that they are hiring somebody that’s going to be a team player and work hard, and I never would have to worry about whether or not they’re doing their job — they just do it.”
That said, she says having no prior stand-in experience does not mean you won’t get a stand-in job. “Whether you’re green or not, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you have a good attitude and you pay attention, that’s half the battle right there in getting a job and securing it.”
As for performing your job, there are some simple tricks to remember. “I should not even have to wait for the word ‘Second team!’ to be out. As soon as you hear ‘Cut!,’ you should be ready on the outskirts, ready to walk in.” Pointedly, Rodriguez explains, “If I never have to look for you and if the camera department never has to look for you, you’re golden.”
In the brief interview, Rodriguez has plenty of other advice and insight on landing and keeping a stand-in job. The interview is pre-COVID, but much of the advice still applies today. She also shares what to know as a stand-in, how to behave with other stand-ins on a job, and what an AD fundamentally wants out of stand-ins.
Do you agree or disagree with anything the AD says about becoming a stand-in or keeping a stand-in job? Share your comments below!