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Pilot Season 2014: Is this the Year for Your Child?

February 19, 2014

Have you been considering coming out to LA for Pilot Season this year? 

ChildrenInFilm.com answers some of your questions and helps you prepare for this important part of the casting process. 

What is a pilot?
A pilot is basically a test run. It’s the first episode of a TV or cable show. As a rule, it is only viewed by the heads of television studios. At best, only 25% of pilots are actually picked up, or aired, by the TV or Cable Network.

What is meant by ‘Pilot Season?’
Pilot Season is the time of year when pilot episodes are given the green light for production. That’s when the casting process begins. Many families travel to LA during pilot season to give acting a try.
An actor who succeeds at booking a lead role on a pilot has a good chance to become a series regular if the show is picked up.

When is Pilot Season?
Traditionally, Pilot Season begins around January and runs into April, at which point the networks will start to pitch their shows to possible advertisers. (It’s the advertisers, after all, who enable the networks to monetize their investment.) However some would argue that Pilot’s are now being produced year round. So, we asked ChildrenInFilm.com’s Advisory Board member Carol Lynn Sher, Senior Agent at Cunningham, Escott, Slevin & Doherty (CESD) in Los Angeles, whether Pilot Season still lives. "Yes, the major networks have their January-March pilot time frame and must deliver their slate at the Upfronts," said Carol. This drives the urgency of pilot season for the major networks. Some cable networks, notably, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, develop pilots throughout the year including now during traditional pilot season."

How is 2014 pilot season shaping up?
Some years have more to offer for child actors than others and the 2014 season looks comparatively bleak for pilots that include kids. "I sat with the grids (a spreadsheet of current pilots)," Carol Lynn Sher told ChildrenInFilm.com. "Unfortunately, there are very few roles for kids this year. I would say fewer than 5% of the new pilots contain parts for kids. Most of the new pilots are dramas, crime stories, courtroom settings, and Zombies shows. There are precious few family situational comedies (sitcom’s) with parts for children."

Should I bring my child to LA for Pilot Season?
Every step toward getting cast in a show is challenging. It’s a tough job to get through the door for an audition. It’s even more of a challenge to get cast for a part. And then, completely out of your hands is whether that pilot will be picked up. It’s even more of a long shot that it runs for more than one episode. Why do so many take part in Pilot Season, and go through the process? Their kids just love to act. And of course, shows that are picked up provide significant paychecks (as well as residuals for re-broadcast) to actors who get cast in a lead role.

Is this the year for your child? 
There’s a lot to consider. How do you secure an agent and a manager? What is the role of the Casting Director, and how can you help your child prepare? Is your child’s resume going to make him or her jump off the page? ChildrenInFilm.com helps you navigate the entire process.

Click around our site and learn more!