One of the busiest times of year for actors is “pilot season,” a test run of a television series. Every year, from late January to mid-April, about 120 sample episodes for new television shows are made – both dramas and sitcoms.
While only 5% are “green-lighted” and made into full series, these 120 productions provide a huge opportunity for actors who want to work in television. That’s why thousands of actors pour into LA in January, February, and March.
Most hiring for pilots takes place in Los Angeles, but there are some agents in New York, Chicago, Vancouver, and elsewhere who send actors for certain auditions (very rare) or cast for locally produced pilots. However, if you want the best chance of landing a role in a pilot (and hopefully in the full series if it’s produced), LA is the place to be.
But even if you don’t go to LA this year, it might make sense to send a headshot to LA casting directors now – that way, you can follow up when you do get to town, or – if you’re very lucky – you might get a call requesting an interview / audition.
But how do you know if you should try out for pilot season, and if you do, how can you increase your chances of getting work?
First, you must realize that most producers are looking for recognized names, because these actors come with their own fan base. However, there is always a need for new talent, and pilot season is your best bet for getting work on television.
Also, you should know that succeeding during pilot season is very difficult if you don’t eventually relocate to Los Angeles. Many casting directors speak of a several year commitment to the city as a minimum. So if you have that kind of dedication, then you might want to consider trying out for pilot season.
Once you arrive (or before you make the move), you’ll want to send out your headshot to casting directors and agents (if you don’t already have one) in Los Angeles. Theater and independent film experience is important, but they will be particularly interested in whether you’ve done any work in television.
The trick is to be persistent, professional, and polished. Persistence means sending your headshot and show cards to agents every six weeks and following up after auditions with thank you letters.
Finally, your skills as an actor must be polished. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some great training and experience, and you’re constantly reading books on the business and craft of acting; watching theater, film and television critically; and taking classes. You’ll need all of these things to make it, but if you do, the rewards are great.
Written By: Actor Tips