You may think a stand-in is just somebody who stands on a mark while the actor lounges around and waits for the cameras to roll. Robert Bennett says that's what he thought it was when he first started, but the job of stand-in is so much more than that. Robert has served as a double for some of the biggest names in Hollywood. In film, Robert has stood in for Michael J. Fox and Joe Pesci. In fact, Fox specifically requested Robert for most of his projects.

For a feature film, Robert is almost always on the set. He is there taking notes while the actor he's standing in for goes through the blocking of the scene. Once the blocking is completed, the actor is no longer required, so Robert steps in and literally walks through the role. He helps the gaffers and the chief lighting technician eliminate shadows and make sure the lighting is correct. He pays attention while the lights are being set up, and he knows, according to the blocking, whether his actor will be directly in the light or just to one side.

Robert also checks the set for safety features. If something looks dangerous, he tells the director about it. Usually, this results in whatever it is being taken care of long before the actor ever sees it. Robert has saved productions time and money by being highly observant. But his job doesn't end when the actor is done for the day. As long as the actor will be working again, Robert will run lines and blocking with him, helping him to prepare for his time in front of the camera.

On a television show filmed with a studio audience, Robert's job is a little different. On "Full House," for example, Robert may stand in for several different actors, depending on things such as prior engagements or union rules. In these situations, Robert actually performs the blocking for the actor, who may be doing a second show or, because he is under eighteen, is not able to work full days. When the actor does have time to be on the set, Robert teaches him the blocking. The end result is that the actor gets the time needed to work on performance while the crew gets the time to finish sets and hang lights with someone there to be the actor's representative—a great deal for all involved.

The best thing of all for Robert is that his close contact with stars and the way the films are made has put him into a position where he is able to leap into writing and directing. It's a big leap, but being a stand-in has narrowed the gap a bit.

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