This year I have had the pleasure of adding some new jobs to my resumé: standing-in and photo-doubling. I started standing-in over a year ago, and was lucky enough to continue working as a stand-in on a few different TV shows and films. This summer I started photo-doubling in a big-budget feature film, and from there was able to also photo-double on a network TV show.
SO… What exactly am I talking about? What’s the difference between being a stand-in and a photo-double?
A stand-in is a crew member who (literally) stands in the place of the actor on their marks so that the camera crew, (Director, Camera Operator etc.) and the Lighting crew can adjust the lights, the sound crew can see where to place a boom microphone, and the set decorators and props people can see where the actor will be walking. A stand in is usually hired by casting, and will normally be the same height, hair color and skin tone as the actor. The stand-in is sometimes given “color cover” or a costume piece resembling the costume that the actor is wearing in the scene. This is to ensure that the lighting will look okay with the color of the costume, the color of the scenery, etc. A stand-in is not on-camera, and steps off set when the actor and director are ready to roll. For more info check out http://standincentral.com/
A photo-double is a crew member hired because they are similar in features and stature to the principal actor. Their face might not look exactly the same, but their body type, hair style and skin tone usually are similar. Depending on the shot a photo-double usually wears all of the same costumes that the actor is wearing, has their hair and make up done similarly, and even wears the same jewelry. A photo-double can be used in a quick insert shot where the character is answering the phone (just the photo-double’s hand), or the photo-double could be used as the character is walking away (the back of the photo-double’s head). Sometimes a full-body double is used in intimate scenes, (I know someone who is a butt double!) Or sometimes people trained in the art of Stunts can be a photo-double, driving a car or falling down, etc.
But… why can’t the actors just do it themselves?
Just because a movie-star needs a hand-double or a body-double doesn’t mean they have creepy hands or an unsightly body. It usually is just to save time. They are quite busy filming other scenes, and if their face doesn’t need to be in the shot, then production can save time and money by having someone else film those shots. And plus it gives me a job! So yay!
Hope this gave you a little insight into some movie magic 🙂 It’s been fun being behind the scenes and meeting new people! I’ve had the pleasure of standing-in and photo-doubling for some of my absolute favorite actors and its been a real learning experience!