Stand-in

Stand-in actors

Description

Stand-ins replace actors before the filming starts. They perform the actions of the actors during the lighting and audiovisual setup, so everything is in the right place during the actual shooting with the actors.

Stand-ins typically do the following duties:

  • Familiarize oneself with the script, scene breakdowns, and the specific actions and movements of the principal actor they are standing in for.
  • Arrive on set early to allow ample time for preparations and discussions with the director, cinematographer, and camera crew.
  • Take direction from the director and cinematographer regarding blocking, movements, and positioning to ensure proper framing and composition of shots.
  • Mimic the actions, gestures, and general performance style of the principal actor to provide an accurate representation during rehearsals and setups.
  • Collaborate with the camera crew to establish the appropriate camera angles, distances, and focus points for each shot.
  • Assist with lighting setups by standing in specific positions to help the lighting team achieve the desired look and mood for the scene.
  • Communicate with the principal actors and provide feedback to the director and cinematographer on the blocking and camera angles.
  • Remain focused and alert during long hours on set, maintaining consistency in performance and following instructions precisely.
  • Adapt to changes and adjustments made by the director or cinematographer during the rehearsal process.
  • Provide support to the principal actors by stepping in during technical setups or lengthy scenes, allowing them to rest or prepare for their performance.
  • Collaborate with the assistant director and production team to ensure a smooth workflow and efficient use of time on set.
  • Follow safety protocols and guidelines to ensure personal safety and the safety of others on set.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to stand-in:

film stand-in
television stand-in
understudy
double
TV stand-in
back-up
movie stand-in
substitute

Working conditions

Stand-ins work primarily on film and television sets, following the shooting schedule and production timeline. They may work long hours, including early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays, depending on the production needs. The work environment can be fast-paced, requiring flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Stand-ins must be comfortable being in the spotlight and working closely with the principal actors, director, and other crew members. They should be able to take direction and maintain focus and concentration during multiple takes and technical setups.

Minimum qualifications

There are no specific educational requirements to become a stand-in, although experience in acting, theater, or film production can be beneficial. The ability to closely resemble the physical characteristics and body type of the principal actor is essential. Stand-ins should have good observation skills, the ability to mimic performances accurately, and a basic understanding of camera angles and technical aspects of filmmaking. Strong communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team are important in this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Stand-in is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Stand-in career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to stand-in.

extra
stunt performer
costume attendant
camera operator
location manager

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of stand-in. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of stand-in with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

voice-over artist
actor/actress
production designer
video and motion picture director
stop-motion animator

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of stand-in.

  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Work with the camera crew: Work with the crew responsible for the camera operation and movement to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Study roles from scripts: Study and rehearse roles from scripts; interpret, learn and memorise lines, stunts, and cues as directed.
  • Work with the director of photography: Work with the director of photography on the artistic and creative vision that needs to be followed during production of a movie or theatre production.
  • Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
  • Analyse a script: Break down a script by analysing the dramaturgy, form, themes and structure of a script. Conduct relevant research if necessary.
  • Memorise lines: Memorise your role in a performance or broadcast, whether it is text, movement, or music.
  • Follow directions of the artistic director: Follow the instructions of the director while understanding his creative vision.
  • Study media sources: Study various media sources such as broadcasts, print media, and online media in order to gather inspiration for the development of creative concepts.
  • Work with an artistic team: Work closely with directors, fellow actors and playwrights to find the ideal interpretation to a role.
  • Work with the lighting crew: Work with the crew responsible for the lighting setup and operation to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Adapt to different roles: Adapt to different roles in a play, regarding the styles, ways of acting and aesthetics.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of stand-in. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
  • Film production process: The various development stages of making a film, such as scriptwriting, financing, shooting, editing, and distribution.
  • Acting techniques: The different acting techniques for developing lifelike performances, such as method acting, classical acting, and Meisner technique.
  • Lighting techniques: The characteristics of techniques used to create atmospheres and effects on camera or on stage; the equipment required and appropriate setup to use.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of stand-in. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Rehearse role: Study lines and actions. Practise them before recording or shooting to find the best way to perform them.
  • Dance: Perform in artistic productions of differents disciplines such as classical ballet, modern dance, contemporary dance, early dance, ethnic dance, folk dance, acrobatic dances and street dance.
  • Harmonise body movements: Harmonise body movements in accordance to rhythm and melody, aestetic or dramatic concept, dramatic pace, etc.
  • Practice dance moves: Study and practice dance moves required in artistic productions.
  • Express yourself physically: Express emotions and ideas through movements, gestures, and actions.
  • Rehearse with fellow actors: Rehearse lines and acting with fellow actors to be attuned to each other.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Ensure cooperation among production, costume department and make-up department: Work with the staff responsible for costumes and make up in line with their creative vision and obtain directions from them about how make-up and costumes should look.
  • Perform scripted dialogue: Perform the lines, as written in the script, with animation. Make the character come to life.
  • Sing: Use the voice to produce musical sounds, marked by tone and rhythm.
  • Practise singing: Study and practise lyrics, melody, and rhythm of songs.

ISCO group and title

3435 – Other artistic and cultural associate professionals


References
  1. Stand-in – ESCO
  2. What is a Stand-in? – Central Casting
  3. What Is a Stand-In Actor? | Backstage
  4. What is a film stand-in? | Radio Times
  5. Featured image: By © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on July 16, 2023

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