As a film stand-in, it is important to understand your role within a film set as well as how you should act while you’re working. Throughout my years working on feature films and TV sitcoms as a stand-in, extra and actor I have gathered numerous tips that will save you embarrassment; however, one of the most important tips while working as a stand-in is knowing how to properly mark up your script.
Marking up your script refers to taking your daily sides, which is a small, pocket-size, version of the daily call sheet as well as portions of the script that are being filmed that day. As you watch the primary actors rehearse a scene, it is your responsibility to ensure you take ample notes to successfully match their movements.
Tip #1 – Circle Words Where Action Occurs
As the primary actors rehearse the scene, follow with your daily sides and circle a word or words where the actor you’re standing-in for moves. This allows you quick reference while standing-in to when you should move. Sometimes, you will be asked to actually perform the scene, and mimic the actors movements as you speak so the camera operator knows when to move the camera.
Tip #2 – Describe the Movement
Once you have circled a word, write a quick phrase to describe the motion of the lead actor. For example, “Stood and walked 3-feet to his left,” or “Moved around the bed counter-clock wise,” or “turned his head toward the window.” The goal when marking up your script is to make quick notes so you have a full reference of the actor’s movement.
Tip #3 – Additional Notes
While reviewing my daily sides from numerous films and TV shows I was a stand-in on, I almost always have additional notes describing the direction of a scene. Sometimes these notes included the emotion of my character, how his body stood (his posture), where his eye line is directed and other information. Adding this information may seem arbitrary, but it has allowed me to accurately depict a scene, which always places you in good-graces with the director.