What does “stand on your mark” mean?
Whether you’re acting, standing-in, or modeling for print, your “mark” is the exact spot your feet (and body) must be for your performance. So when you are standing “on your mark,” you are in the place the director, casting director or other production crew members have instructed you to stand. Your “mark” is where your feet must be for your body to be in the proper lighting and camera shot. Print, commercial, television and film auditions are often video-recorded, so being in the right spot to “stand on your mark” means you’ll being in focus and your voice will be caught clearly by the microphone. Stray from your mark, you might be out of focus, out of shot, off-mic, or they may not be able to hear you at all. That’s no way to land a callback, let alone the part! On set, being off your mark might put you in a weird shadow, crop you from the shot, or even upstage another performer. Sometimes, you might have several marks and even blocking to move you from one mark to another. For most print work and most first auditions, you’ll usually have only one mark to deal with.
So what does a mark look like? It is typically contrasting tape placed on the floor. (A dark floor, look for bright or white tape. A bright floor, look for dark tape.) Stand on your mark by facing the camera with your toes comfortably lined-up to the strip of tape. If your mark is two pieces of tape in an X shape, stand with the X shape roughly between your feet (near your toes).
Sometimes you’ll have a two-piece mark with the tape in the shape of a T. Line your toes up to the top of the T with the long bottom of the T between your feet. Sometimes the T shaped mark is used to position you at a specific angle to the camera, but toe the top with your feet parallel to that long bottom, and you’ll be in the right position and the right spot.
One more thing – stay on your mark. Don’t lean or wander… To stand on your mark is to stay on your mark. So stay put, in-focus, and on-mic. Of course, everything gets easier with practice– and you can practice hitting your mark at home!