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Dissecting Pilot Season

November 01, 2017

Understanding Trends and Making Them Work for You

Pilot season: a time of year (between January and April) when the industry is buzzing with producers, directors and writers attempting to get their new projects off the ground (or what the industry refers to as green lit).  It's an important time in a young actors career because, if cast in a series that stands the test of time (aka gets picked up by a big network and remains on air for more than just a couple of shows), the young performer's career can skyrocket down the otherwise slow path towards success.  

It may seem like pilot-attention goes to well-established actors; In the case of adult actors, this is often true.  However, there are still tons of roles open to those just getting started.  This is great news for young performers!

It's no secret that pilots are cast in Los Angeles, and it is therefore important that young actors come to LA during pilot season if a sitcom is to be in there future.  That said it's not a good idea to come out to LA before you are ready.  So if a trip to LA for pilot season is in your future, make sure you start preparing now for the years ahead.  Finding representation is key, and as a member of Children In Film you already have access to a multitude of resources.   Take advantage of the KidStart program to get you going; then after you have mastered all ten steps to success, and polished your profile, you will be ready to start communicating with talent reps listed in your member directory.

It is also important that you educate yourself on industry terms.  For example, a four-camera sitcom is generally a comedy.  This is much different than say a nighttime drama which in many ways are shot more like a film with multiple camera setups and scenes.  In any case, a young actor (especially those who have built a small base of regular work) is advised to think about what kind of actor he or she wants to become and then drive the car in the direction of maximum impact.  Those interested in prime-time sitcoms should hone in on their comedic skills, while those looking to be involved with nighttime dramas should focus on dramatic roles.  It is also a good idea to connect with representation who understands your ultimate goals and has connections that will help you get there. Ask your potential agent or manager what types of roles his/her current clients take on as well as what casting directors he or she works with regularly.

Never Stop Learning. When you're on a roll acing auditions left and right it is easy to get complacent and to forget that you must always be studying your craft. If you are auditioning, don't forget to research the character and the production and work privately with your coach. And remember the work doesn't stop once you book the part; if you are actively working on a film, you generally have time to develop your character before production starts, and if you have booked a television show or commercial it is important to do your own prep work before you go to set. Productions move quickly and being prepared is key to leaving a good impression.

Balance is Key. A truly successful person is great at prioritizing while maintaining balance. Make a list of your top five priorities - this is likely to include things like your career, your schoolwork and your family.  When necessary, remind yourself of your priorities and don't let them suffer just because you are focused on one thing. You can't legally work unless your grades are up to par, and remember, your family is part of the reason you've made it to where you are today; protect these things because they are valuable and give each one the attention they need.

One final tip - consider brushing up on your industry education by walking through the steps of the KidStart Program. While you may have already completed these tasks, it's always good to go back and make sure everything is up to speed.