Every year, on the heels of spring, comes Pilot Season. It’s that special time of year when actors' hopes and spirits are raised with new possibilities of television success. Once upon a time however, this was an exclusive season, reserved only for those in LA and NYC. But no more! Actors across the country now have a real shot at quality productions. This is due in part to the rise of digital uploading methods for casting as well as the continued spread of production locations. Are those actors not living in LA or NYC on equal terms with those who are? Very likely not but, the playing field has at least begun to level. Now then is the time that we should ready ourselves. Below you’ll find a short list of practical things you can do to take full advantage of pilot season.
1) Get an agent. Many cities have very reputable agencies. Check them out. Talk to people being represented by them. Get the inside scoop. This may sound like a lot of work but it’s worth it.
- Note: This is really a huge topic and certainly a worthy subject for a future blog, so stay tuned.
2) Review Actors Access, and similar sites, for upcoming pilot auditions. You should already have an Actors Access account but if you don't, make that a top priority! In many cases, auditions can be digitally uploaded to the casting agents and producers who are posting to these sites. If you see something you believe you’d be perfect for, let your agent know. They’ll be the one to submit you. Ask for their opinion as well. Be discerning with these types of auditions but do not hesitate to put your hat in the ring when the right part comes, or, in this case, posts.
3) Prepare, prepare, prepare. Duh. I know how it sounds. But can any actor say that they fully prepare for every single audition, without fail? I certainly can’t say that of myself. Do not let pilot auditions come and go without your full investment. Treat that page or two of dialog as a mini-play and rehearse as such.
Also, directly related to this step is research. You must do your homework. Find out who the creator and/or showrunner of the (potential) series is. Find out what they've done in the past. You'll have a much better understanding of the show's tone and rhythm if you do.
4) Update your media. Are your headshots over two years old? You need new ones. If you’re young, this timeframe may need to be truncated. Is your information and resume up to date on all the actor-related websites that you’re affiliated with (e.g. Actors Access, personal website, agent/agency’s site)? Does your demo reel(s) need to be updated? Are your reels or short scene clips posted to all the aforementioned websites? Keep your social media fresh as well, with regular posts and images because you had better believe casting agents, producers, directors, etc. will, in fact, look at them.
5) Lastly, treat your body well. This is a season not of excess but of control. Your mental focus is already being exercised and stretched, so by the laws of everything holistic, you’ll need to bring a similar alertness to your body. There’s nothing groundbreaking here; get healthy sleep, move your body every day (be it a long walk, a run, yoga, etc.), eat a sensible well-balanced diet, control your alcohol and caffeine consumption, and meditate each day, even if only for five minutes. Science has finally gotten behind this practice, and with good reason. It lowers stress levels and increases mental attention and awareness, all key to a strong acting performance.