Movie Stand-In Tips – Controlling Yourself Around Stars

by on December 10th, 2014
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I remember the first day working as a film stand-in on the set of “The Joneses.” After spending the morning getting to know my fellow stand-ins and talking with some production assistants, it was time to make our way to the shooting set to watch the primary actors rehearse their scene. As you may know, the lead stars in this film include Demi Moore, David Duchovny and Amber Heard. While it was almost magical watching these Hollywood veterans working, I was quickly reminded that while these people are “celebrities” while they are working they are no different than any other person working a job.

If you are getting ready to work as a stand-in, you should understand the importance of controlling yourself around the stars you’ll be working alongside. Throughout my experience, I have gathered several tips cultivated by watching other stand-ins make mistakes and advice received from professional stand-ins.

Tip #1 -Don’t Freak Out

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember when you’re working as a stand-in alongside some of the most “famous” actors is not to freak out. I vividly remember working on a Nicholas Cage film in Chicago, and a group of extras were kicked off set (and most likely banned from future productions) as they screamed and, well, literally freaked out when they saw him. If you want to guarantee your acceptance on a film set, do not freak out.

Tip #2 – Don’t Bother Them

While it may be tempting to ask your favorite actor about how they got started in the business and for other general acting advice, a general rule of thumb is to not bother the lead actors unless they have made themselves available to talk. Generally, when you are face-to-face with a celebrity, they are working on a scene, memorizing lines or talking with the director and producers regarding the creative aspect of a film. Throughout my experience, the only acceptable time to openly ask questions is during lunch, or during a break. However, only do so if the actor is not busy or makes it obvious he is open to conversation.

Tip #3 – Understand Your Place on the Set

As much as this tip bothers my ego, as a stand-in, you are pretty far down on the totem pole of important people on a set. You are expected to do your job, and then get out of the way. If you feel you have something to add regarding the performance aspect of an actor – keep it internalized. I remember watching a stand-in trying to give a famous actor “acting tips.” Needless to say, this did not go over very well, and it was the last day I saw him.

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