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It’s busy Pilot Season and I’m fortunately turning down work (one can be so busy, can’t one?). The dream is to shoot a Pilot that sells & be asked back to be a Regular Union Stand-In (Jackpot!) and/or Steady Extra (also a potential long term Jackpot). You annually work 6-9 months with the same Cast and Crew & are treated “Special” (and who doesn’t like that?). This particular Pilot I’m Standing In for a Guest Star, not a Regular. Waaaah. But there’s a Big But…”Utility Stand-In” is the next best thing. You’re the Go To Guy for multiple Actors (however some Stand-Ins are Executives’ relatives and they steal jobs!  I was on Rock Hudson’s Hit TV Show McMILLAN & WIFE in ’74 & the Camera Team aimed their Lights at the Producer’s 72 year old 5’1″ Mother who Stood In for Rock…and he was 6’4!”).  These days you need to look like the real Actor to get hired, just like a Stunt Double. Please feel free to cross fingers that Johnny Extra books a long term Regular hire in the near future. Excuse me while I light a candle in my own honor…

I’m shooting in Malibu matching a Star who you know! He plays the Hubby in a smash sex comedy movie franchise (hint…I look like him but without my goatee & glasses). Arriving on set, a Stand In goes to Wardrobe to get “Color Coverage” (as close as possible to whatever the Actor is wearing that you are covering that day). Best compliment of the day?  Cameraman: “John move to your right. And you look like Ben Kingsley.”  Note to Producers, I would LOVE to Stand In for Ben Kingsley! Working without glasses on Set & I am close to blind faking my way through the “Marking Rehearsal” watching the Stars with my fellow Stand Ins (a cute Parisian Gal married to a Big Shot and a nice guy I worked with many times before). They help me cheat my way through the blocking. This show worked on Passover but my Dad said “Take the job and skip Seder!” Now if I can just manage not to be smited by lightning all is swell. The Director of Photography and his team light this small Hotel Room overlooking the gorgeous bay as Romance Central. It is a “Closed Set” which means Johnny is around Naked Actors! Hoo yah! No one is allowed inside except 40 horny Teamsters. Some Closed Set. The Hot Young Blond Guest Star Actress (who was murdered by a Vampire last season on a Hit Show) keeps getting into the bed sans robe just as every Grip in town happens to have something urgent that must be plugged in right by her side. Subtle this ain’t. My Actor is in briefs and could have done a few more Sit Ups this morning (not that I’d judge, and he is charming and friendly).  Side note: When I was John Travolta’s Stand In on WELCOME BACK KOTTER he was a Gent who knew everyone’s name and a pleasure to work with. I once ran into him at Twin Dragons while dining with a pal in Medical School. She hadn’t watched TV in years and had no idea who Travolta was. Imagine how disappointed I was when he said “Hi John” and introduced me to his girlfriend Diana Hyland. My friend said “Who was that?” Oh just a guy who had a couple of films called SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER & GREASE. John Travolta knew my name. I’m special.

Today everyone knows my name on Set possibly due to me wearing a large Orange Masking Tape Name Tag. Here’s a secret. Every single Stand In who is not a blood relative has done plenty of Extra work, but they always deny it. Yes, you heard it here first. Stand Ins often don’t acknowledge Extras (I call them Stuck Ups). I however hang with anyone who smiles at me (I’m an easy lunch date on shoots). The challenge is that with over 100 new people on every show remembering names is almost impossible. Which is a nice way of saying that  sometimes I am Mr. Stuck Up Stand In with Extras. “Hi John, we worked together last year on that show with 150 Extras in the rain, remember me?” Ahhhhhh…no. Excuse me while I get back to the room with the Naked people.

3 Responses to “Closed Set”

  1. Chris Lind says:

    Well! If I’d known the title meant “naked people,” I’d have read it sooner, ha ha. Or maybe not. What a hoot! xxoo

  2. adriana says:

    Scandalous!

  3. […] the Studio Execs told the Cast & Crew that it would be a “definite go” (see archive “Closed Set” http://iget2work.com/2010/04/closed-set/ ). However several dozen hard knocks in Tinselville have taught me the only sure thing out here is […]

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