As part of the pilot season, studios create a sample episode from a potential series. Pilot episodes are test episodes that are shown to a sample audience on a major network. The marketing piece is meant to persuade them to watch the show. It is common for pilot season to last from January to April every year. These days, pilots are cast and shot all year round instead of just in the spring and summer because of online streaming services.
How Pilot Season Is Changing
There are usually more auditions during pilot season than the rest of the year. In addition, there is a much greater chance of being cast in your dream TV spot. It doesn’t matter if you get cast; if the show doesn’t get picked up, you won’t get a regular role. Netflix and Amazon Prime start new series all year long, diluting the pilot season even more. Studios can make pilot episodes easier than ever, and new shows can be launched at any time.
Why Pilot Season Is Important
- As not all productions are limited to coastal studios, pilot auditions are often held in larger cities across the country. Major networks produce the majority of pilots, so your pay is guaranteed, and you’ll gain valuable exposure as a result.
Pilot Characters Often Become Regulars
- The ultimate goal for most actors is to land a regular role on a popular series. This type of role is coveted for its possibilities to achieve recognition and fame. If you are lucky enough to land a regular role in a series, even if it doesn’t get picked up for the season, you should still expect to get more attention from casting directors.
- Actors that have achieved winning a role in a series generally have a better visibility and reputation that impresses producers and casting agents. It should also be noted that if you were to land a pilot role, the prestige will make it much easier to find a reputable agent. Many agents won’t work with actors that haven’t won accredited roles.
- During your audition readings, filming, and screening, you will have the chance to work with and develop relationships with many people in the industry. Making friends with people of all backgrounds and skill sets within the entertainment business can help you to network for potential jobs.
How to Prepare for Pilot Season
- The importance of having a great headshot cannot be overstated. Your headshot is your first chance to make an impression. Ensure that your headshot captures the type of person you are and that it is recent. Many professional actors have a portfolio of headshots portraying them in different styles and looks. If you have an idea of what type of character is being cast, it’s not a bad idea to choose a headshot that is closest to the look they are looking to cast.
- Make sure you update your IMDB page as well as your resume. The process of updating an IMDB page is very simple. IMDB will verify your credits if you have not received credit for productions you have been in. For the best chance of getting an audition for a pilot series role, make sure that your CV is updated with all of your work. Casting agents and producers are more likely to want to work with someone with varied experience. Even the smallest job or role should be included on your resume.
- It might be a good idea to shoot a professional scene. The chances of getting into an audition room during pilot season are almost zero if you don’t have any footage. This is an extremely busy time for the industry, and casting directors will purge their candidates based on things like having professional footage to review. Professional footage, including self-taped footage of your monologue or dialogue, is preferred by casting directors and agents.
- To succeed in an audition, you must take it seriously. It is important to see what works and what does not work during every audition. When you are rejected, ask yourself what you can do differently next time. If you take rejection personally, you will be discouraged from auditioning again in the future. Getting ready for Pilot Season means getting comfortable with rejection.
- Preparation is key to a successful audition. Make sure you prepare yourself in advance and do your research about the production. You should familiarize yourself with the production company and their past projects, the name of the casting director, and anything you can surmise about the role for which you will be auditioning.
Pilot season is one of the best opportunities for aspiring actors to gain experience in the industry. If you are preparing for your first round of pilot season auditions, remember these tips to help pave your path to success.