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Are You and Your Child Prepared for Pilot Season?

January 04, 2017

Pilot season is rapidly approaching and with it comes last-minute auditions, memorizing pages of lines, cold-reads, and self-taping.  Pilot season happens every year between late December and April, when hopeful young actors are expected to memorize pages of dialogue for an early morning audition all while trying to balance homework, acting classes and other extra curricular activities.  It’s a busy season where everyone dreams of landing that big role that will change their lives forever.

A young actor who gets an audition for a pilot and then finds that that particular project is getting green lit truly has accomplished something major. The project then sticking around for more than a few episodes is truly like squeezing water out of a stone.

Most things are out of your control, but here’s five things that are not:

1.)    Coming to Los Angeles When it is Right For You:

Yes, if you’re going to get cast in a pilot, you need to be in Los Angeles when the pilots are being made – during pilot season.  What you shouldn’t do, however, is come to pilot season before you’re ready.  This means you should be building a resume from your home town and focusing on getting Los Angeles-based representation before you make the trip.  Don’t have an LA rep yet?  That’s okay.  You can use the ChildrenInFIlm.com member directory to search for reputable agents and managers, and then send them messages requesting meetings.  We recommend that you consider making your first trip during the summer or fall, when pilot season is over, so that the reps have time to focus on you.  Then, next year, when you’re ready you can aim for the big leagues!

2.) Letting your agent/manager work for you:

During pilot season, those casting room doors are harder for the average actor or actor parent to pry open than any other time of year.  The reality is, you NEED an agent or manager to get you pilot season auditions.  When your child is repped, it is as if he or she is wearing a badge of pre-approval showing that you as the parent have done your homework and that your child is prepared.  What homework?  Check out the KidStart program and make sure you have great photos, a winning resume, your work permit and coogan account.  

Once you’re represented, let your agent/manager focus on getting you work and you, as the parent, continue to do your job of supporting your child as he/she practices the craft.

3.) Understanding the Casting Director and the Process: 

Understanding the casting process and the casting director’s role in this process is critical to your success.  A casting director is picky because his reputation is on the line based on who he recommends for the project.  The factors which go in to this selection are varied and not simply related to your child’s talent, nor is the casting director’s recommendation the final word.  Producers, Directors, Studio Execs all have a say in who win’s the part. Understand that because there are so many factors going in to the decision, it is truly out of your control.  What you can do is let your child do their very best work, come prepared, be polite and kind (thus showing you’re easy to work with), leave it in the room and celebrate the fact that you made it this far.  Taking the stress of an unknown outcome home with you from an audition will have an effect on your child’s future performances at a time when your whole team deserves a round of applause

4.) Networking:

It is way more important that you as a parent search for networking opportunities so that your child can make connections and “build fans” than it is for you to search for casting opportunities.  Remember, this is a ‘who you know town’ so get to know as many people as possible.  After you have been circulating for a while, you will at least be aware of who the major players are and can individually target the pro’s who can make or break your child’s career.

5.) Being Prepared:

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – a prepared child-actor family is a successful one.  Make sure you have done your homework, have all your paperwork in order, that you’ve taken the time to read your sides and that your child is well fed and well rested before any audition or meeting.  Make sure your Talent Agent and Manager have updated copies of your child’s resume and headshot.  Beyond that, if you do get a second call or even the chance to work on a pilot, continue to be prepared every day.  Treat the crew (every member of it) with respect.  Parents, stay in the background – let your child be the star while you remain there to observe and support.  Be someone the cast and crew will want to work with again and continue to get your child coaching.  The project is only as good as its weakest link.  You don’t have control over the full project, but you do have control over your personal commitment and attitude.