Extras, Stand-ins, Doubles and SPACTs: Extras’ Roles Explained!

Posted by Indiana - 04 Jan 2023
Extras, Doubles, Stand-Ins: Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras Blog

With brand new production briefs coming to us daily, joining UVE means being presented with many different kind of opportunities to get onto set – from background Artiste work, to spoken parts and even the chance to stand-in for an A-lister or two! (Exciting, right?)

All that said, when starting out in the world of Extra work, you may find that you come across a few terms that you’ve not seen before.

UVE Artiste App - Featured Role Push Notification Uni-versal Extras

To help boil down each kind of opportunity that comes through our doors, we thought we’d look at each one in a little more depth.

That way, you can understand exactly what each role you may be offered entails should the opportunity present itself. Knowledge is power, after all.

So, first things first. What kind of roles are we talking?

UVE generally deal with 6 different types:

πŸ”¦FEATURED roles
πŸ‘¨β€βœˆοΈπŸ‘¨β€βœˆοΈBODY DOUBLES

We’re now going to take a look at what each one of these strictly means

πŸšΆπŸΏβ€β™€οΈ Extras

This is the most frequent type of role that UVE Artistes will be presented with.

Being an Extra means that you are there to help build a realistic background – this may be behind principal cast members, or even in separate cutaway footage that is used to help set the scene.

Extras | Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras Blog

Common roles may include being a passer-by on a busy high street, a punter enjoying a drink at a pub, or perhaps a party-goer dancing the night away!

Being cast for an Extra role means attending set, meeting other fellow Extras, and all being guided by a Crowd AD.

Featured Extra roles are similar, however, they mean that an Artiste will get a little more airtime and will be highlighted in some way.

Featured Extras are chosen for a look or characteristic that production are keen to draw attention to, and you might even be asked to engage with one of the actors. This could mean opening a door, pouring a drink, delivering a parcel… whatever it is that the scene requires.

Featured Extras | Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras Blog

In addition to this, Featured Extras are sometimes asked to read a small amount of scripted dialogue or even perform what we call a ‘creative reaction(This means being filmed responding to something happening in the scene that’s playing out).

Good news, though. Not only do these types of roles allow you to show-off your acting chops, they also entitle you to a bump in pay!

πŸŽ₯ Stand-ins

Stand-Ins help assist behind the scenes.

This may mean attending make-up/camera tests, being present while the creative team block scenes or trial a lighting set-up… anything which helps production visualise how the scene will look.

Stand-Ins won’t appear in the footage used in the final cut of a TV show or movie themselves, but they play an essential role that assists in creating the visual which will. Once production are happy, the principal cast member you are standing-in for can walk directly onto set and get to work!

Stand-Ins | Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras

Because of this, it’s very important that stand-ins match a particular look and measurement. This is because they must be able to realistically be replaced by the appropriate cast member when production is all set up and ready to roll.

If your look is just right, on occasion, production will even request that a stand-in stays on a project to help with doubling shots moving forwards!

Which leads us to…

πŸ‘¨β€βœˆοΈπŸ‘¨β€βœˆοΈ Body Doubles

Unlike stand-ins, Body Doubles are brought in as substitutes for main cast members during filming.

A Body Double will have their hair, make-up and costume styled to match the performer they are doubling and will take instruction from the director.

Body Doubles are used for a variety of reasons – perhaps it’s because a lead actor plays multiple characters who appear in the same scene, or maybe it’s because the main actor’s time is limited and they are required for additional shots elsewhere.

A Body Double may even step in to perform on behalf of an actor when they are to required to appear nude or exposed.

Doubles’ faces are almost always concealed, or will be later edited over in post-production, so that it appears as if the lead was present all along.

That’s the magic of cinema for you!

Body Doubles - Hand Double Playing Piano | Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras Blog

When an actor is unable to perform the necessary skill needed for a scene, Doubles may also step in for close-up shots of specific appendages such as hands, feet, legs, buttocks and the like!

This might mean capturing tight shots of a Double doing something such as – say – playing an instrument, tap-dancing or penning calligraphy.

πŸ₯‹ Stunt Doubles / ‘SPACTs’

Stunt Doubles are used for scenes where you may see an actor galloping off on a horse, engaging in combat or BMXing down a half-pipe – really, anything that may prove dangerous for an untrained performer to attempt.

Stunt Doubles and SPACTs - Extras Roles Explained! | Uni-versal Extras

Just like Body Doubles, Stunt Doubles (or ‘SPACTs’) will be put into an identical costume to the actor they are stunting for. That way it’s very easy for us, as viewers, to maintain the illusion that the main actor is performing said stunt.

(This will also usually involve concealing the Artiste’s face with clever camera angles and/or a hat, helmet or wig).

These roles are exclusively for trained specialists, and ‘SPACT’ is an abbreviation of ‘Special Action‘.

This acronym indicates that an Artiste has particular experience that makes them equipped to perform a special skill safely, professionally and take-after-take (if required).

🀹 Skilled Artistes

Whilst Stunt Doubles are called upon for the shots that need to look as though they’re being performed by a main cast member, Skilled Artistes are their own unique characters.

They are cast for their ability to perform a certain skill and are used to give a scene some additional colour or action.

Think jugglers and firebreathers at a circus, or roller skaters confidently weaving down a boardwalk.

Skilled Artistes - Circus Juggler | Extras Roles Explained! :: Uni-versal Extras Blog

These types of roles arise very often, which is why it’s extra important to make sure that your profile details each and every skill and hobby that you have! And we’re not always talking professional-grade level…

Play amateur football, or took some ballet classes?

Skateboard, make pottery or play the guitar? We want to know about it, as it’s how we’ll find you on our database when these new jobs come in!

Have a scroll through your profile’s Skills, Training and Sports sections (found under Personal Details) to familiarise yourself with all of the different types of experience you’ll benefit from listing on your profile!

Read up on more specially-curated Film and TV content?