In Focus-Magazine

The 5 Groups of On-Camera Players (Talent)" By Peter D. Marshall
Monday, 04.09.2018, 10:00 AM

Peter D Marshall

Vancouver, Canada

The 5 Groups of On-Camera Players (Talent)"
By Peter D. Marshall

"On-camera performers" are not just the actors on a set. I
have included a list of other performers that you will deal
with on most film productions.

NOTE: You will notice I have divided these performers into 5
groups. These "groups" are not based on any Union description
- they are based solely only on my own experiences of how they
function on a film set.

(1) Actors

Here's my list of the eight categories of actors you could
work with. When I say "categories," I am actually referring to
how each group fits into the hierarchy and politics of this

Each of these categories of actors represents a group that has
a different share of the power on any set - which means that
certain actors in each group may require special treatment.
When you look these categories over carefully, you will
understand what I mean.

1. The legend (Jerry Lewis, Lauren Bacall)
2. The movie star (Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts)
3. The television star (Eva Longoria, William Shatner)
4. The cross-over star (TV to Film) (George Clooney, Will Smith)
5. The cross-over star (Film to TV) (Judy Davis, Glenn Close)
6. The guest star (Brad Pitt on "Friends")
7. The principal actor (larger speaking roles)
8. The day player (smaller speaking roles)

(2) Stunts

Stunt people are also performers. Here are the 3 categories
they fall under:

1. Stunt actor (plays a character - could have dialogue)
2. Stunt performer (not a specific character - no dialogue)
3. Stunt double (doubles actors for more dangerous stunts)

(3) Extras

Extras are also known as Background Performers or Atmosphere.
I have broken extras down into 3 categories:

1. Special skills extras - They have a special ability (skill)
they have practiced and trained for. (Hockey players, scuba
divers, ballroom dancers)

2. Uniformed extras - These extras "play" characters the
audience knows something about. (Police, waiters, nurses,
military, firefighters)

3. General extras - These are the majority of extras on any
film set (Crowd on street, passengers on a plane, bar patrons,
students in school hallway)

(4) Actor Photo Doubles

Photo Doubles "portray" an actor in any scene where the actors
face is not seen.

1. They are matched for body size, physical movement, hair and

2. They are used mostly for second units and splinter units.
(car drivebys etc)

3. If they are used by main unit, it's because an actor is not
available for over shoulder shots etc.

4. They are also used as body doubles for love scenes and nude

(5) Stand-Ins

Although Stand-ins are not technically "performers", I have
included them on this list because of the important role they
play on any film set.

Stand-ins (also known as Second Team) are not hired to work
for the actors. They are hired to work for the Director of
Photography, to "stand in place of the actors" while the DOP
lights them.

Stand-ins are usually picked by the DOP in pre-production
after all the cast is chosen. Sometimes actors will have their
own stand-ins they prefer to use.

Stand-ins are a very important part of your crew. Good
stand-ins are worth their weight in gold because they help
make your re-lighting time less.

1. They are used by the DOP for lighting.
2. Used by the camera crew for movement

Peter Marshall/Vancouver/Canada

Peter D. Marshall is a filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada. He has worked in the Film and Television Industry for over 35 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First Assistant Director and TV Series Creative Consultant.

He has written, directed or produced over 50 hours of documentary and educational programs and his documentaries and dramas have won, or been nominated for, 14 International film awards.

Peter has been a directing instructor at the Vancouver Film School, the Directors Guild of Canada, Victoria Motion Picture School and Capilano College.

Peter can be reached at

Peter Marshall

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