Tips and Advice for a Better Pilot Season

Television Pilot
Television Pilot. Jeff Giniewicz/E+/Getty Images

When "Pilot Season" is underway in the entertainment industry, it means that there are opportunities to audition for work on new TV series. As an actor, you should be as prepared as possible for any opportunities to be seen by casting directors, and here are a few tips for you!

What is "Pilot Season?"

Pilot Season is the time of year when new television series begin casting, typically for the release of a new show in the fall. Pilots are being developed and cast throughout the year, but the primary time of the pilot season is generally January through April.

Pilot season is a very busy time in the industry, as there are typically many projects that are being cast, and this year is no different! It can certainly be difficult to obtain auditions for television pilots. (It is difficult to obtain auditions anytime during the year!) In order to give yourself as many opportunities as possible to audition for roles in pilots being cast this year, here are 5 ideas for you to consider.

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Become Familiar With New Pilots

Pilot Season
Pilot Season. joshblake / E+ / Getty Images

Becoming familiar with as much information about new television pilots is important, including doing research on who is casting them. There are multiple reliable sources available that will provide information about pilots which are currently casting and in production, as well as providing a "logline" (or a short summary) of what the project is all about! "The Hollywood Reporter" keeps a constantly updated list of TV pilots, their loglines, and their statuses.

"Backstage" also offers lots of information online and in print about the pilots which are currently casting. If you’re an actor who is living out here in L.A., check out “Samuel French Bookstore” on Sunset Boulevard and grab a copy of "The Call Sheet." This regularly updated book lists information about current projects and who is casting them.

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Keep in Contact With Your Talent Agent (or Aim to Hire One!)

Meet with a Talent Agent
Meet with a Talent Agent. ONOKY - Eric Audras/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

If you have a talent agent, it’s important to keep in close touch with him or her throughout the year.  Especially during pilot season, be sure to check in and keep your agent posted on everything that you’re up to.  Be sure that your agent has everything that they need in order to help market you properly. If new headshots are needed, for example, consider scheduling a new photo shoot. Your agent will likely be very busy this time of year, but it's your​ job as actors to be persistent (and be pleasant pests!) in order to stay at the front of your representative's mind. Remember that a good actor/agent partnership involves equal participation and excitement from both parties. (It’s a lot like dating!)

If you're not currently represented, consider submitting your materials to talent agents in order to be considered for representation. It’s important to note that pilot season is notoriously difficult to secure meetings for agents, but it’s certainly not impossible.

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Put Yourself on Tape and Read Pilot Scripts/Sides

Man reading script for audition, camera in foreground
William Howard / Getty Images

Whether or not you have representation, it’s important to take power into your own hands. Even if you love your current talent agent, always aim to do as much work on your own as possible for your career (and there is always something that we can do for our careers!) One way to "audition" for a role in a television pilot (or for any role for that matter) is to put yourself on tape for projects.

Many sides and scripts are available from sources such as "ShowFax" for example. Additionally, some of your actor friends who have information about upcoming auditions may be willing to lend you sides as well. Once you obtain sides or a script, videotape your audition and send the audition tape to a casting director. (Information pertaining to office/email addresses for casting directors is available from many sources, including the previously mentioned "Call Sheet" from "​Backstage.")

Note that there may be some potential "downsides" to putting yourself on tape: 1) The casting director may not watch your unsolicited videotape, or 2) The sides/scripts may not be available in the first place. Pilots especially are typically not widely available for just anyone to download, and there may be confidentiality issues involved, so it’s important to look into that. If you have a question, considering calling your talent agent or manager, or if you're not represented, the casting director for the project directly and ask.

If you have an opportunity to submit your work, go for it! If a casting director doesn’t want to watch your tape, then at least you will know that you’ve done everything within your power to be seen. (The great casting directors always take the time to find the right actor for a role, regardless of whether or not he or she has a talent agent!)

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Hire a Reliable Acting Coach

Enroll in Acting Class
Acting Class. Hill Street Studios / Blend Images / Getty Images

In order to be as prepared as possible for auditions, all actors should hire a great acting coach to help. In addition to being constantly enrolled in an acting class, a great acting coach can help you to be the best that you can be during pilot season (and all year long). I personally have worked with (and recommend) the amazing Billy Hufsey, Christinna Chauncey, and Don Bloomfield. There are many amazing acting coaches out there, and finding the right one for you will be helpful! (Here’s a list of acting coaches from "Backstage.")

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Have Fun!

Actors Having Fun
Have Fun!. Emmanuel Faure/The Image Bank/Getty Images

If the pressure seems to be especially intense in the entertainment biz during pilot season, remember to not let it take away from enjoying your journey! Have fun, enjoy this incredible ride that you’re on, and do the best work that you can.

Here’s to a successful Pilot Season!