Many actors start out as stand-ins for A-listers. The job involves standing-in for talent while production goes through the process of lighting and camera set-up before filming begins. It can be a great way for actors to get some on-set experience and pay the bills before becoming working actors. There are also professional stand-ins such as Devon Elora, who’s been in the game for 15 years on shows such as “Westworld,” “Big Love” and “Murder in the First.” Elora took a break in between shoots to speak with Casting Networks and share what a day in the life of a stand-in looks like.
Booking the project is the first step, Elora says, and it can happen a variety of ways. “If you haven’t stood in that much and don’t have a lot of contacts, it’s great to join a background call-in service,” she advises, adding that these services book stand-ins as well as extras. “The main way I get all of my gigs is by working as hard as I possibly can on set,” Elora says. The stand-in business is very much referral-based, something she learned after working her first big television series, “Big Love.” “The casting director [from ‘Big Love’] said that because I did such a good job and they loved me over there, she would put me on her next show, which was ‘Raising the Bar.’”
Thanks to referrals like these, Elora developed an impressive record of stand-in credits under her name. She went on to share what an average workday entails. After checking in to set and getting their vouchers, stand-ins will go to wardrobe. Then they’ll receive their sides and start some sort of rehearsal. Elora notes that the type of rehearsal will vary from production to production, but no matter what the process is, she strives to be as helpful as possible. For example, during a blocking rehearsal, she’ll closely watch her actress and memorize the exact action on each line. If the camera operator asks about a certain movement while Elora is standing in, she can then be ready with an answer, which will help keep production moving. Elora sums up the job with, “You go through every single scene, setting everything up for the actor.”
Elora emphasizes that she is not pursuing acting. “But it’s very good for people who want to get involved with acting because you get to be on set and see how the crew works,” she says, also pointing out that the relationships formed through stand-in work can occasionally lead to a small speaking role. But she warns actors who work as stand-ins that they should stay focused on the job at hand. “You’ve got to keep it in your mind that you are crew,” Elora says. “You are there booked as crew.”
Stand-ins haven’t always received the best treatment on set, as Amy Adams found out when she was mistaken for her stand-in. Regardless of the production, though, Elora said she’s always had positive experiences interacting with talent. She lists Aaron Paul as an example of an A-lister whose set etiquette stands out. “He’s so happy on set,” Elora remarks. “He goes and shakes hands with everybody, no matter who you are, and it just makes the day go by so much better.” So no matter if you’re a professional stand-in, an actor just starting out or name talent, Elora reminds us that we’re all human. “Everybody on set is there to do a job, to get money and to go home,” she says with a laugh.