"The List" & Robert De Niro

Life of a Background Actor - Part 3

Get your head out of the gutter, as if Robert De Niro was only that lucky!  I'm talking about a service actors use to get booked on television shows and movies to do extra work! 

Sure, I could call Central Casting all day everyday, but then my phone bill would be crazy huge!  Trust me, it happened.  I had a phone bill of over $400!  A friend of mine told me that the best way to get background work on a regular basis was to register with a listing service.  So, I registered with the very popular Joey's List.

It's super easy!  You send Joey your information and pray that they have room for you.  Once you get the call you go to the office to register.  You fill out a bunch of paper work - personal details, etc.  They take your picture and you are set to start calling.  

The way it works is this:  You call into the office everyone morning to let them know your availability.  Example ~ Monday morning I call to let them know I'm available Tuesday thru Friday.  If I'm not available a couple different days, then I just let them know that.  On Friday I would call and let them know if I'm available over the weekend and on Monday.  Most shows don't work on Saturday and Sunday, but commercials do and sometimes movies.

If it wasn't for this service, I don't know what I would have done.  They really do come through for you.  I got my Screen Actors Guild card due to the bookings they got me.  Joey's List is the biggest list service, because he works directly with Central Casting. 

Jeff Olan Casting isn't a List Service, but it is another background casting office.  Jeff Olan casts shows like Greys Anatomy & The Practice. Jeff Olan Casting got me my first stand in job.  I remember it perfectly.  I was at the movies watching Wild Hogs (still, to this day, one of my favorite movies).  I got a phone call from JOC and left the theater to take the call.  It was Jeff himself calling with an opportunity.  I had never stood in before, so he gave me a run down of what you do when your "standing-in" for another actor.  

Basically what a Stand-In is, is this:  after the actors go through the rehearsal and walk-thru of a scene on set they go back to their trailers or wherever to do whatever.  In comes the Stand-In.  The SI needs to resemble the actor to some degree; height, weight, complexion, hair color, etc.  I stand in certain places on the set so the camera and lighting crew can make the adjustments necessary to film the scene.  Sometimes the SI is asked to read the lines for timing purposes.

The job was for the next day on a movie called What Just Happened starring Robert De Niro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was about to freak out!!!!!!  I wasn't standing in for Bobby Benjamin (that's what he goes by...I don't look anything like him).  I was standing in for a young actress named Lindy Booth.  She had one scene as the hostess in a restaurant.

                             Bobby Benjamin                             Me                                 Libby Booth

  You can see the resemblance.  It was a lot of fun.  I got to hang out with Bobby's SI.  He's been standing in for Bobby for well over 25 years!  As a SI you don't have to sit in the holding area like when you are a plain ol' background actor.  You get to sit on set around everyone else.  There was a part of the day where Bobby stayed on set while I was standing in for Libby.  I ran lines with him!  It was AWESOME!  

It was tough going back to a regular day at background town, but everyday was a new adventure!