How to Get Away with Doubling

Over the years I have tried on many hats the film industry has to offer. Sometimes filling the small but ever necessary stand-in slot. Other days were spent with a handler hustling me between hair and makeup and wardrobe trailers in the hopes of not falling behind on the day. No matter how significant,or often insignificant, the position was always defined. There were clear lines drawn between talent and crew, principal and background, above the line or below the line jobs. There always were until the day I became a photo double. 

A photo double's job is to take pressure off the lead actor. Any time the shot can be done without the star being there, the double subs in. Sometimes it's a simple over the shoulder shot, other times it's unloading a vehicle or walking down stairs. The less time the star has to be present the better, but the tricky part is figuring out where the boundaries are. No one teaches you how to photo double. Stunt double, yes. Body double, yes. But photo doubling is different every day on every show. 

Some things you can do:

Watch the show. If you are on a TV show, instead of a film, watch some episodes. Get a feel for the pace, your actor, and the characters you will be interacting with. You don't need to be up to date, but you should have an idea of the plot. This will take off a lot of pressure your first day on set.

Introduce yourself to the crew. You are 90% one of them and they should accept you. They will help you do the best job by getting you pages, call sheets, and a chair in video village.

Be ready to interact with all the principal actors. You will likely act on camera with all of them. If you are on the same show long enough, you will get to know them well. This is not a background job.

Most importantly, pay attention to everything your actor does. You are there to be her when she is not. You and her stand-in will work together to make it appear like the star of the show is there. Be familiar with the scenes, note all of her marks, movements, and gestures as you will repeat them. Although you will not likely read the lines aloud (because they would have to pay you more) don't miss the opportunity if they change their minds. 

Some days you will be treated like royalty with parking privileges, a trailer, and endless meals and manicures.  Other times you will be in a folding chair on an empty sound stage with nothing to do for twelve hours. Just remember, be prepared, be professional, and you can have a steady, challenging job in an otherwise chaotic industry. 

March 23rd, 2015   |   Permalink   |  

'Redlands' will release January 10th!

"The lives of three residents of Redlands, California -- a middle-aged glamour photographer named Allan, his nude model Vienna, and her indie-musician boyfriend Zack -- intersect and ultimately collide in this claustrophobic adult drama." Starring Nicole Fox, Sam Brittan, Clifford Morts, and Melissa Johnston.

November 16th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

On the Set of 'Rake'

Last Monday, I was called in for a fitting at Sony Pictures. It was just me and one other model who were booked to work a party scene later in the week. If you've never been on a studio lot, it's very big and just a bit like a labyrinth. Luckily I had a buddy, and we found our way rather quickly.

The first episode of 'Rake' was already underway, shooting on Stage 12. We met with our A.D. and were escorted to the wardrobe department, where the most important thing is tea time, and then on to hair and makeup. It was at the end of the two hour process that we entered the sound stage and watched the current scene being filmed. Everyone was quite kind considering the chaos of filming a new show. It was a short day that resulted in some lovely introductions and a rather comfortable outfit for Friday's shoot.

Fun fact about the film industry. Everything changes constantly. Thursday evening I was given a call time of 8:30 am, which is a pretty late call actually. Later that night it switched to 10:30 am, and at five in the morning I was told to be there at 1:12 pm. Note to anyone who wants to get into film, never plan to do something else on a day you're booked. It doesn't work out.

So we meet at Beverly Connection at one in the afternoon, are shuttled to base camp in West Hollywood, and then to catering and up to set in the Hollywood Hills. As per usual, we are spending the day at a gorgeous mansion with a view of the entire city. (Some days I really love my job.) Then we go eat lunch, which is more like Thanksgiving dinner, and shuttle back up to set to start the shoot around 4:30 pm.

Turns out the guest star of the episode is Chasty Ballesteros, a beautifully talented actess who I also worked with on 'American Lie'. (If you don't know who I'm talking about, look her up. You'll be happy you did.) I also know two of the pool girls and a poker player who are playing in different scenes. This quickly became a day of hanging out with great friends doing what we love. Can't let any major details slip so let's say after some bar scenes, bird's eye views, and breaking up a cat fight, the day was coming to an end. We set down our gingerale champagne, changed out of our elite fashion dress, and wrapped up just before midnight.  

So of all the projects we work on and all the places we go doing this crazy job, why are we all going to watch this one? It's not a series about lawyers bringing someone to justice every week or some self-destructive someone suffering through his drama. It has work, it has personal, and it has ridiculous because that's what we all have. It's funny, it's scandalous, and it will surprise you. If that's not enough, then watch to see one of the greatest directors of all time making a TV show. The brilliant Sam Raimi (Detroit native. Woot!) directs the show. The set is run like a feature film's, and I've never seen anything like it. Like the rest of Raimi's work, 'Rake' is guaranteed to be epic.

Hope you all enjoy, and look out for that catfight.





October 4th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

'The Opportunist' to premiere at Cannes!

" Ten shorts will be screening in competition, among them the sole U.S. competition entry, David Lassiter’s The Opportunist, about a young man with mixed intentions who charms his way into a party, and Sundance alumnus Magali Magistry’s Vikingar, a Franco-Icelandic production that Tesson describes as a 'startling mix of Viking lore and modern-day realism.'

"'The shorts are even more eclectic than the features,' concludes Tesson. 'But what the films in both selections have in common is a desire to think out of the box, to not limit themselves to a specific genre or category, but rather to open the door toward something new.'

"In the coming days, the sidebar will announce its closing night film.

"The 52nd International Critics’ Week runs from May 16-24."


--Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter


See the full lineup here:

April 29th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

Knockout Networks presents, 'Facts with Melissa Johnston'

The segment will showcase trivia, truths, and historical facts with a witty, and sexy, twist. Fans can submit their own interesting facts for a chance to be featured on the show.

Facts with Melissa Johnston will premiere Monday, April 15th on the Knockout Networks' YouTube channel. 

March 31st, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

"All About Lizzie" premieres February 8th!

The new, original comedy series from creator John Hopson will premiere on My E TV channel 71, on February 8th at 10pm. You can download it for free on or

January 29th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

Femme Fatale

The series, produced by Matt Cimber, is a spin-off of the 1980s hit 'GLOW'. The first segment will be a search show where Melissa will appear as the half Japanese, half American martial artist, Su Nami. Permanent characters for the second segment of the show are rumored to be released early next year. 

December 17th, 2012   |   Permalink   |  

'American Lie' to premiere at Mockfest Film Festival

The hysterical, new comedy will be shown on the festival's opening night, November 16th. Many of the films stars and creative team are expected to be in attendance for the screening at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. 

Tickets can be purchased for the premiere at:

(film summary below)


"There once were some horny young guys 

Who came up with the perfect disguise. 
They'd cast a fake flick
Just to tap sexy chicks!
A brilliant American Lie.

Be Anyone. Tell No One. Get Laid."

October 24th, 2012   |   Permalink   |  

"All About Melissa"

"All About Lizzie", a relationship comedy created by John Hopson, is currently in production for its first season. Melissa Johnston will guest star as Angela, one of the leading man's girlfriends. Look out boys, Angela is any man's dream girl, but be careful not to cross her. 

May 23rd, 2012   |   Permalink   |  

Broadening Her Horizons

Melissa Johnston will play the role of Maggie in John Brian King's upcoming indie drama, 'Redlands'. Although details of the film are hush-hush, we do know the character is quite different from Melissa's typical teenage roles, and it's rumored that the film has some heavy graphic content. No doubt a big change from her latest teen comedy. Production will begin in late March, and fans can expect a release by the end of the year. 

February 25th, 2012   |   Permalink   |  

This Week's LA Xpress Cover Girl

The magazine based in Southern California has chosen Melissa Johnston to be its cover girl this week. Pick up your copy at your local newsstand. 

December 26th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

Twenty Questions with Melissa Johnston

December 26th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

Follow Melissa on Facebook

Simply follow the link below to 'like' the page. You can view behind the scenes photos, message her, and win prizes. Feel free to post any comments about what kinds of roles you would like to see her in next.

October 11th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  


Read the full interview on the American Musical and Dramatic Academy's blog page by following the link below.

September 29th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

'Barely Legal' rakes in four stars!

Read the complete review here.

August 10th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

"Women of Will" takes 3rd place!

Move over, Twilight! "The Hunted" annual webisode contest is here. The longest running web series, about vampires and the unfortunate ones that draw their attention, has held an international contest for the last three years. Each contestant submits an episode, and the winner's airs as part of the series. This year, director Dawn Alden and writer Robyn Heller created an episode that performers will love. With tons of great stunts and entertainers' humor it is simply captivating. It is no surprise that these contest newcomers started out strong and took 3rd place in the competition. You can watch the episode at the link below.

June 27th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

Interview with Parx-e Webzine

Listen to the full interview here.

June 27th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

The Wheel of Life

Tonight was the first screening of Yasu Matobe's film, "The Wheel of Life", at Busby's in Los Angeles. The director and most of the crew and cast were in attendance, with many friends and family members there to support them. The film was screened twice, followed by a meet and greet with the director, cinematographer, composer, and cast. The same panel posed for pictures with several producers and family members before the show. It was a beautiful night and a perfect atmosphere for an amazing group of passionate filmmakers.

February 24th, 2011   |   Permalink   |  

New Day, New Show

This is my first post on my very own website!

So many exciting things happening lately. Cats and Dogs just closed on February 2nd after an extended run. Thanks to Ryan MacKenzie and the cast for a great show! Dance rehearsals are just beginning for my next play, Esther, and, later this month, I am getting new head shots done. Looking to send out some postcards for the new show, and find some reliable representation.

Also, super excited about the upcoming release of Water for Elephants. Look for me dancing in my gorgeous 1920s powder blue gown. (It was the costume designer's favorite.)

February 4th, 2011   |   Permalink   |