You might recall this great question about stand-in work from a Your Turn that ran in August.

People tell me all the time that I look like [a particular name actor]. Enough to where I had the crazy idea that I should try to investigate how to go about being her stand-in for film/TV work. I know she does mostly indies, and for all I know indies don’t have the budget for stand-ins, but still, I have to at least try to research the thing.

Where would one start? Where do productions pick their stand-ins from anyway? Any thoughts?

Since I didn’t/don’t know much about the world of the stand-in, I posed a question to readers of The Actors Voice (as well as recommending what few tips I could scrounge on my own, in that original column). And, lo and behold, if a wonderful working actor with a survival job as a stand-in didn’t email a great load of tips to share!

Now, this actor is — in fact — an actor, but she’s also a stand-in and apparently working actors like to separate out their stand-in lives as much as bartender/actors or waiter/actors or extra/actors like to do. So, for the purpose of this reply, we’re gonna call this cool actor chick “Trixie Daniels” (don’t ask — but she does know her stuff, believe me). 😉

Here is her super-cool response!

Okay, first off, definitely sign up with Central Casting. They DO keep stand-in files. And the casting people there know who they can count on. They have a go-to list. Also, I think the most important thing to do is make friends with the ADs on the project [your doppelganger is working on]. They are usually the ones that hire the stand-ins. DPs can sometimes recommend people for the job as well.

As for targeting a particular actress, I would guess Bonnie’s advice about contacting [that actor’s] representation might be the way to go. I know there are a few people who keep their stand-ins with them on all their projects. I know that Woody Harrelson worked with the same guy for a while, and I hear that Jack Nicholson uses the same stand-in on all his movies. But, I don’t think most actors are that loyal to their stand-ins. (They aren’t, in my experience.) There usually isn’t much of a relationship between the actor and their stand-in unless you are on a really long project!

Another way to go might be to contact the production office of the actress’ next project and offer her skills there.

All of my experience of stand-in work is in episodic television, so it was never that important that I matched the person all that much. It really depends on your director and DP. Some are really hard-core about it — and you can even have to wear color cover (same color clothing the actor wears in the shot) but that is mainly in film.

It’s shockingly a REALLY competitive field and pretty cutthroat. People will go behind your back even if you already have a relationship with the ADs on a particular project and try to take a job that is being offered to you. In episodic television, the stand-ins almost always have an existing relationship with someone above the line. It’s really hard to get in, and it’s a job that a lot of people don’t consider that important, so everyone on the crew will recommend a person for the job!

I worked on one particular sitcom for eight years. And, pretty much every week, for eight years, some girl would come in and basically tell people (the background actors) that she would be a good match for “my actress.” I’m not really sure why they thought the job might be up for grabs, especially when it was obviously filled. We stand-ins on this particular show had a great experience because we actually got to act almost every single week with the rest of the cast. Our amazing director trusted us to fill in for all the roles that had not been cast or that were being cast with celebrities that were unavailable [for rehearsal], and perform the parts for the producers, the studio, and the network. I don’t think most people will ever get that kind of opportunity, and I am truly grateful for it.

In summary, stand-in work can be a great job that keeps you on the set, pays the bills, and gives you a terrific education in the business. But, it can also be a curse. As an actor, if you get on a project that lasts for a while (say, oh, eight years), you can get caught up in the stand-in work and lazy about your acting career. It’s very easy to fall into the comfort zone of steady income and familiarity of that lifestyle, and let your acting career take a backseat to your new “day job.” Trust me, I know how easily it can happen!

So, great tips from a working stand-in/actor who sees this more like a survival job than an in-road to acting gigs. Hey, based on the original email, the stand-in lifestyle may be just plenty cool enough! Good luck — and thank you BOTH for writing in!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000766.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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