Stand in Work for Actors

Someone asked me a question the other day about how to go about getting stand – in work. I thought, you know what, I think there are a lot of people who would really like to learn a lot more about how to go about getting this type of work.

Let me first explain to you exactly what a stand – in does. Whenever they’re shooting a feature film or a television show, instead of having the principal actors stand in place or walk or run down the street as they’re practicing getting the cameras and the lighting right for the scene, they will hire a stand – in to do that in replacement of the principal actors.

The stand – in doesn’t necessarily have to look exactly like the actor but, you do have to be the same height and by the way, there are always some exceptions to the rule but, typically you’ve got to be the same height, wear the same size clothing, and have the same build and skin tones as the principal actor you are standing in for.

That way they can have the stand-in wear the same clothing as the principal actor, and do all of the technical tests with the camera and lighting people before they actually begin shooting the scene. When they are technically ready to begin shooting, then they will call in the first team. The first team are the principal actors. Having a stand-in do this testing work allows the principal actors to sit, relax, go over their lines or do whatever they need to do to prepare for their scene.

A stand – in is considered an extra. However, they are treated differently and paid more than a regular extra. Stand-in’s will break for meals with the principal actors and get to eat earlier than the regular extras. This is because they will be working on the set and getting ready for the next scene before the other extras are needed.

Their pay is about $15 more for the first eight hours that they work. But, a stand-in can wind up making a lot of money. It would not be unusual for a stand-in to earn $250 – $300 a day. The amount of money they earn will be dependent on how many scenes the actor they are standing in for has that day.  A stand-in could work on a project for 2-3 months or if it is a TV show, the entire shooting season. There can also be a lot of overtime paid; once again, this is all depending on who the stand-in is working for.

It can be a very interesting job. You get an opportunity to watch some phenomenal actors up close, see how they prepare, how they deliver their lines. You will be able to listen to the director’s talk with others on the set and learn from them as well. I’ve been a stand in around seven times on various projects and they’ve always been really really interesting learning experiences for me.

One way that you can try to get a stand – in job is to find out if there’s a project coming to your town. You can check out the film commission website in your particular area and see if there is a film or TV show coming to your town. Then I would contact the extras casting director and I would simply ask who the principal actors are. Check them out on and see if they are a good fit for you. Let the extras casting director know that  you’re the same height, facial features, skin tone and ask them if you can be considered for stand-in work. Getting in touch with the extras or even principal casting director is always a great way to try and book stand-in work.