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What is Pilot Season?

Pilot season is that very busy time of year for television.  It takes place between January and April where the networks are creating new shows that they will consider putting on the air for the fall season.  Of course, you can imagine with this flood of new shows, Casting Directors are very busy.  There are many new shows to cast in a short period of time.

Be aware that casting for pilots are done all year long – especially since there are so many more avenues besides the big four networks. But the big push for these network shows is during this time period. Cable networks such as HBO, Showtime, FX, Bravo, Disney Channel, etc. create their pilots throughout the year.

Many hopeful actors come out to Los Angeles hoping to be cast in a pilot because “everyone knows” if you get a series regular role and the show becomes a success, it will definitely change your life. “Boy is that a big IF.”

IF you come out to Hollywood and actually get an agent, and IF there is a role for your type in an upcoming pilot, and IF your agent can get you in to be seen, and IF you get through the many callbacks, and IF you make it through the mix and match stage, and IF you make it to the final network test, and then IF you are so lucky to be talented, unique, original, committed, confident, etc., that even though you are completely unknown, your charisma and confidence has parted the television seas and you like Moses are allowed to walk into the series regular promised land.

Not to say that this never happens. Complete unknowns do get cast in pilots and Hollywood is always looking for the next new, fresh, talented, upcoming star!

What is the best way to approach pilot season?

The best approach to pilot season is the same as auditioning for any other projects during the year. You want to be prepared, do your research and make strong choices.

The key to being prepared for a pilot is to make sure that you do your homework. Find out who is producing, directing and casting the show.

By doing this research, it can help you to find out what is the style of this pilot. There would be a difference in style on how I would approach a Disney show versus a Modern Family type comedy. By researching the producers of the show, you find out what projects they have created in the past and what is their style. You can also see what their successes were.

When you go in to meet the Casting Director, the Director, the Producer, the more you know the better you will do. Because knowledge is power!

Making a strong choice on how you play the character is also very important. . This is the time for some really creative choices – don’t be afraid to show your talent. This is a new character and the sky is the limit in terms of how you want to create on it. There are some really wild characters on shows these past few seasons so be original! For example, Zooey Deschanel’s character on New Girl and Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs characters on 2 Broke Girls to name a few.

If you go in on an audition for a pilot and you don’t get the series regular role, but you did an awesome job, you could get a guest starring or even a recurring role if the pilot gets picked up. Like one of our favorite agents said, “Go in and make a fan,” because you never know what will come your way from work well done.

As a side note, this is a difficult time to try and get an agent or manager because they are very focused on getting the clients they have jobs. My advice, wait until after pilots are picked up to get an agent or a manager. Because that is when they will be looking over their roster and seeing what new clients they might need.

Happy Auditioning!!
Award Season...
Ask Lisa: Agent doesn't send daughter out for the right type of auditions.

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