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What is a Stand In Actor


Stand-in actors are essential to many productions such as movies, tv shows, commercials and other forms of media. They are the people who take the second place of the principal actor and are considered the “second team”. Stand in actors are used for rehearsals, camera blocking, and lighting setups. Stand-in actors will take the place of the  primary actors in cases such as helping the camera department light the set correctly, focus a shot, frame a shot, test the composition and more. A good stand-in actor helps save time while shooting, which in turn helps save the production time and money. 


 When it comes to stand-in actors, there are different types that serve a variety of purposes on set. These different types of stand in actors include: utility stand ins, single camera stand ins, and multi camera stand ins.


Utility Stand-In


Utility stand-ins are on set for just as their name states, utility. These stand-ins are usually used to help test lighting and shot composition. Utility stand-ins are usually matched to the actor's height instead of the actor's looks. Since these actors are used for utility their looks compared to the actors dont have much importance. Utility stand-in jobs are the least demanding of stand-in work. Oftentimes, utility stand-ins will stand-in for more than one actor, therefore, utility stand-ins will need to familiarize themselves with more than one character of a scene. It is important for these workers to carefully study the actors they will be standing in for. Knowing physical differences between themselves and their actor is a must. This knowledge will help the camera department set up a shot more quickly. 


Single Camera Stand-In


Single camera stand-ins, much like utility stand-ins, help perfect lighting and camera composition of a production. The difference between these stand-ins and utility stand-ins is with single camera stand-ins, they should physically match their actor. This includes height, weight, hair color and skin tone. 


Multi-Camera Stand-In


Multi-camera stand ins are hired for much more than their physical appearance to their actor. Multi-camera stand-ins will usually act out an entire episode or scene in the actors stead in order to help the production team establish lighting, composition, blocking dialogue and much more before filming.


Skills a Stand In Actor Needs


Professionalism is one of the most important skills a stand-in actor needs to master. Working on a tv or movie set can be new and exciting, and sometimes stand-ins can land gigs that require them to work closely to well known figures within the industry. It is important for stand-in actors to remain professional and give leading actors their space to work. Stand-in actors must be able to speak to principal actors with respect and professionalism. Sometimes if a stand-in actor impresses a principal actor, that principal actor may even ask the stand-in actor to permanently be their stand-in. This is a rare occurrence within the industry, but it has happened. 


It is vitally important for stand-in actors to maintain good focus as well. Filming a production can center around thousands of small details. Scenes, job duties, and outcomes of the production can shift in a nanosecond. It is important to pay attention to the script, production team members, the director and the scene itself. 


Knowledge is power, especially when you are on a production set. Not only will stand-ins be required to memorize scenes, lines as well as their actors' physical appearance, knowledge of the production, the members of the production, the equipment and even production terms can only help benefit a stand-in actor. 


Pros and Cons of Being a Stand-In Actor


Just like any job, being a stand-in actor comes with its list of pros and cons. One pro a stand-in actor can look forward to is valuable on-set experience. Even if being a stand-in actor is one's main goal, the experience and knowledge a stand-in actor will gain can also open doors and opportunities for further positions within a production. By being onset, a stand-in gets to first hand witness on-set activity, conversations and everything that goes on to ensure the success of a production. Job security is another pro that stand-ins can enjoy. By law through the SAG-AFTRA contract, stand-ins make a base rate of more than $200 per eight hour day. Stand-in actors also have better job security than background actors. This means stand-in actors have better potential for benefits such as health insurance and employer contributions. 


One drawback of being a stand-in actor is the demanding schedule. Production days are long and a lot is expected to get done each day. Stamina is a must. If a stand-in actor has dreams to be the principal actor one day, the time dedication to stand-in acting can sometimes interfere with acting dreams. Time restraints may make it difficult for stand-in actors to pursue their own acting careers. Both pros and cons can be weighed differently depending on the person, however, it's ultimately all about what is best for one's individual goals and career. 


Ashley Hernandez

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