The Do’s and Don’ts of a Film Stand-In

Like any other job, there are several do’s and don’ts a stand-in must abide by. While outlining this article, I reflected on my many years of work as a professional stand-in, as well as an actor, to help provide a well-rounded list of what you as a stand-in should and shouldn’t do. Of course, this is just a general rule list, and there are always exceptions to most every rule. Bottom line, use your common sense while working on a film set to prevent encountering awkward situations.

Do – Show Up On Time

Punctuality is one of the most treasured qualities producers, directors and casting directors look for in a stand-in. While you may think your role is small within a film set, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The film crew needs you to help properly illuminate and establish a scene, thus if you’re running late you could potentially cause an entire scene to fall behind schedule.

Don’t – Expect or Ask to Leave Early

As a rule of thumb, expect to work at least 12 hours per shooting day. I have seen many temporary stand-ins become aggravated as they didn’t know there would be such an extensive time commitment. As a stand-in, you are expected to stay throughout the entire shoot – this means potentially remaining on set even after your actor leaves for the day. Never ask to leave early, or if you see your actor leaving for the day, wait until a production assistant signs you out before leaving.

Do – Bring Something to Entertain Yourself

Like many other roles within a film set, being a stand-in revolves around the saying, “hurry up and wait.” After you’re done filming your scene, you will be required to sit around and wait, sometimes for hours, until the film crew needs you again. Thus, bring a book, crossword puzzle or a journal to keep your time preoccupied.

Don’t – Bring Electronic Devices

While it may be tempting to bring your iPod or a portable gaming device, don’t. Not only does this raise security concerns as you must leave these items behind when you’re on set, but if you’re engrossed in music, movies or a game you could miss the call for you to come on set – something that is sure to get you banned from future films.

Do – Carefully Watch a Rehearsal

It is your job as a stand-in to carefully watch the actors rehearse a scene. After the actors leave to get their hair and makeup done, you must match their movements so the shot can be properly illuminated and the cameras properly established.

Don’t – Miss a Rehearsal

It doesn’t matter if you have to use the restroom, make an important phone call or finish drinking that yummy cup of coffee – when it’s time for you to watch a rehearsal, make sure you are there. Also, make sure you have a good view. While it can be easy to get pushed back from other crew members, politely inform them you must see the actors perform as you have to mimic their movements while the crew establishes the shot. The crew will understand.

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