The more you know when you’re working on a television or film set, the better. These downloads teach you inside information about working on film and television sets — with an emphasis on working as a stand-in.
The Stand-In Handbook – Our downloadable guide to standing in — especially useful the night before work, when you need a crash course on the job.
The Callsheet Cheatsheet – Our handy glossary of abbreviations seen on callsheets, it’s printable and portable, so you can keep it close when you need it on set.
When you are standing in, you will usually want to pack lightly as you may be away from your belongings for long periods of time when you are set. That said, there are some pieces of gear that will be helpful to bring with you every day you are standing in.
Portable Folding Chair – While you should be given a chair to sit in when you’re off set, truth be told, other crew members may claim it — or in other cases, production just can’t get one for you. So, when you bring your own chair to set, you not only end up with a place to sit, but you also ward off other crew members from sitting in your chair! This one — the Roll-A-Chair — is one that I really like. It sits tall, is sturdy, and has a back rest. You can also buy folding chairs with no back, folding chairs that sit closer to the ground, and folding chairs with arms. Avoid getting too “epic” with your folding chairs (no foot rests or recliners!). Keeping it small and light will mean it’s not a pain to haul around when you change locations. And writing your name on yours in permanent marker will keep your chair from being accidentally claimed by another crew member with the same one!
Portable USB Power – Many people are on set are on a quest to find power outlets for when their smartphones lose power, but the stand-ins who bring their own power win! Not only does bringing your own power to set keep you from competing with others for outlets, you also don’t have to leave your phone to have it charge — you can keep on your person. We recommend portable power that has a capacity of at least 5,000 mAh, which will offer about 3-4 complete charges of an iPhone 6 and is usually about the same size. Currently, if you go with a smaller power unit, you will also get a lower capacity, meaning fewer full charges in a day — 2,500 mAh is about one full charge. Larger capacity units are usually bigger — and they may take overnight to fully recharge. We recommend Anker brand but perhaps any brand will do. Prices can vary widely so try to find portable power on the cheap! Also make sure to bring a charging cable with a USB end.
Hip Pack (aka Fanny Pack) – Fanny packs are the outcasts of the fashion world but they are very practical for the stand-in. If you can put all that you need into a fanny pack, you make it so that you are not continually fretting on where to put your personal items when you are on location, and you don’t cause any profile issues in the way that wearing a backpack can. Go for a quality fanny pack that is water-resistant and with pockets in a way that makes sense for you. Quality should mean it won’t rip or break easily. We recommend the Chrome Cardiel Shank Hip Pack for its sturdy construction and water-resistant ability, not to mention is roominess and trendiness. (They might no longer make it, so if you find it, get it!)
Breath Freshener – Crucial for when you have to stand in in close proximity of other stand-ins — as protection for yourself and in case other stand-ins have dangerous breath! We recommend a liquid breath freshener that can be sprayed that is also compact. Listerine Breath Strips are compact though they tend to melt on hot days so aren’t the best investment.
Also Read: Breath Freshening
Heel Caps – When your stand-in job calls for wearing high heels daily in order to match your actor’s height, and when you want to protect the own high heels from damage, heel caps can be a wonder. Solemates makes high heel protector caps to protect from heels sinking in the grass, but they also may make it so that you can walk on set without making a sound.
Heel Inserts (aka Lifts) – Some stand-ins may need a little extra height in order to better match their principal actor. While some camera crews may work with a slightly shorter stand-in without issue, other camera crews may want a better match. Lifts may do the trick! Lifts go in the back of the shoe to elevate the wearer by an inch or so.
Also Read: Ways to Add or Subtract Height When You’re Standing In
Lighted Magnifying Glass – Frequently stand-ins complain about the small size of their scripts (known as “sides”) and the callsheets that come with them. A smartphone camera can be used as a magnifying glass — but that can use precious battery life. We recommend bringing a dedicated magnifying glass if you don’t have great near-sightedness — and add a light to it so that you can read your sides in the dark.
Comtek Receiver – If you’re really serious about standing in, you might want to invest in a Comtek. A Comtek receiver will allow you to listen to the audio of a scene that is shooting — that is, if the sound department is transmitting audio via a Comtek. A good clue into whether a production is, is whether the director and others around video village are wearing headphones. A Comtek receiver along with headphones is called “a set of cans” (think: listening in on tin cans). If you hear on set them called “Comtex,” that’s wrong. Make sure you pick up some 9-volt batteries, too. A Comtek will last a long time on one 9-volt battery — maybe three weeks of regular usage.
Also Read: Using a Comtek | Using a Comtek with Your Own Personal TV
When standing in in the winter, you will want to get gear that will keep your extremities warm for as long as possible. Warm footwear that can withstand sub-freezing temperatures for hours is strongly recommended. Warm coats assembled in layers are also strongly recommended, as well as ski pants or any other kind of insulated legging.
NEOS Explorer Overshoes – Arguably the best in warm gear for your feet, NEOS are overshoes — that is, they are essentially boots you can wear over your street shoes and remove easily when you move to indoor work in the same day. The Explorer line of NEOS is insulated, providing extra protection from the cold. They’re also waterproof, which is bonus when you’re working in rain, slush, or snow!
Also Read: Product Review: NEOS Overshoes for Warm Feet When Standing in in the Winter
Canada Goose Men’s Down Gloves (Women’s) – While quite expensive for gloves, when you want warmth when working outside for long periods of time, Canada Goose Down Gloves can’t be beaten. Available in Men’s and Women’s, pair them with Hand Warmers and you’ll resist the cold for long periods of time.
Ski Pants – Ski pants are probably the warmest bottom layer you can wear. Wear alone or with pants underneath, their versatility means you are warm whether you are standing in outside all day or move indoors for part of the shoot. Consider whether the ski pants you buy have zippered pockets because the pockets will give you a place to put your sides, your mobile phone, etc., and zippers will provide security so they don’t fall out.
SmartWool (Merino Wool) Socks – If you want a warm sock, at very least get SmartWool socks. The ingredient in SmartWool that’s particularly helpful in keeping you warm is merino wool. You’ll want to get a few pairs of these. While some can be thick, some are thin enough not to add bulk. That means you can also buy a thinner SmartWool sock and layer for added warmth.
Hand Warmers – Hand warmers are one-use items that heat up when they come in contact with air. Open their packaging and shake them, and in about fifteen minutes they heat up! You can wear Hand Warmers in your gloves and give your hands some much-needed heat when the cold creeps over your fingers.
Toe Warmers – While not as effective as their hand counterparts, Toe Warmers help stand-ins keep their feet a bit warmer for a bit longer. They work a bit better when allowed to heat up indoors before going out, as opposed to trying to get them to warm up while outside. You may want to wear them on top of your toes rather than beneath them — but whatever the case, don’t wear them directly on the skin else when they heat up, they could seriously burn you!
Body Warmers – You get the point. Like toe warmers, you should not use these directly on your skin. In general, Body Warmers are applied to the lower back but you can apply them on any clothing where you need some heat.
When standing in in the summer, temperatures can fluctuate from hot by day to cool at night. You will want to consider bringing light layers to accommodate for those changes. Rain and bugs are continual threats — as well as sunburn — so having gear to address those concerns will be of help.
NEOS Villager Overshoes – If you don’t already have the insulated Explorer line of NEOS, then these less expensive, just as waterproof, Villager line may do when moving between wet stand-in exteriors and dry stand-in interiors. If you’re looking for a lighter NEOS overshow, these would be the way to go though your feet may be cold in colder climates.
Compact Umbrella – If you don’t want to walk around all day with a large umbrella, a compact umbrella may be the purchase you need to make. Some, like some compact umbrellas made by Totes, can fit in a cargo pocket or can be thread through a belt. However, they may not be the most durable.