What’s the Big Deal about Pilot Season?

There’s this buzz that happens every January in the industry. Pilot Season. This time of year, I see a sh%t ton of ads telling (selling) actors to “be prepared for pilot season” with
  • New Headshots!
  • Acting Classes!
  • Image Makeovers!
  • New Representation! etc. etc. etc.
Something’s not right here, I think. By the time January comes around it’s too late to have this stuff ready for pilot season.  I mean, doesn’t the word “prepare” automatically imply prior to?

Many actors hold a misconception that pilot season is only for those who have top representation or who are series regular material. (Whatever that means.) There’s this idea that booking a pilot is better than any other acting job. People move cross country every winter, spending a year’s savings on a three month gamble.

It’s time to demystify pilot season. Companies use the tantalizing prospect of booking a pilot as bait to sell their product. Look, either you need new headshots, classes, an agent or not. Ask yourself, What do I need to support my career right now?

Almost two years ago, Dorothy, a SAG eligible actor, decided it was time to join the union. She decided it was her time to do TV and film, and joining SAG-AFTRA was what she needed.The moment she made that decision – and I mean within a month – she got her first TV audition. Her musical comedy experience was an easy transfer to sitcoms. Offices began to call her in repeatedly, and six months later she booked a pilot.
About a year ago this time of year,Joy walked her headshot into a casting office, because she knew she was perfect for a new show. Today she’s filming that show as the series lead! The series, however, never had a pilot. The network simply greenlit the entire season – a perfect example of how pilots are not the be all end all.
(Both Dorothy and Joy had participated in Action Group, and used Marketing Tools to support their careers.)

Booking a pilot as a co-star or guest star can be just like any other acting gig. Yes, it’s fun to be on the ground floor of something new – something that could be the nation’s next big hit – but at the end of the day, it’s just solid work. So if your goal is to book solid work, then forget about the term, “pilot season”, collect what you need, and do what you need to do – now. If you can’t figure out what that is, then ask yourself, What do I really want? Your answer will guide yo

She Wants to Lead a Glamorous Life

Giving "Rosie" some information.

Giving “Rosie” some information.

So last week, my episode on FOX’s Rosewood aired. I took my time seeing it, because doing a one-liner is no big deal. And yet it is.

It had been way too long time since I booked a TV gig. When I finally did, it felt like I had climbed out of a well, was hanging over the edge, and trying to catch my breath. And the sun felt good on my face.

When I got the call for the co-star audition, I was looking forward to seeing the casting director again, because it had been years, and he was one of the kindest CDs I met when I first came to town. On the other hand, I hated going in for “the maid”. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem going in for a domestic, but I never get cast in that type of role no matter how hard I try. I started to think that not only was it a waste of time, it was (geez) only one line, I wasn’t gonna get it anyway, and I should really just call my agent to say I can’t make it.

Wait. WHAT?

I was actually talking myself out of an audition! And I’d been subconsciously doing this kind of stuff for some time, which is what had kept me down in that dark-yet-comfortable well to begin with.

The actual shoot was less than glamorous. I was immediately put into a maid’s outfit, and my hair & make-up were  . . . “domestic”. I sat in my trailer far, far away from the actual shooting, so I just read my book. The trailer got colder as the hours went by. It was five hours before I was called to set. By the time they shot my scene, the cast & crew were ready to go home. I made a point of just doing my job with no fuss, thinking that no one should really notice me. Yet the writer immediately approached me for a line adjustment, the director introduced himself, the guest star generously shared fancy soaps with me (we were in a hotel), and the star of the show was . . . gorgeous. I was out in under an hour, then drove the 50 miles home. Yes, that day I worked doing what I love.

Externally, it wasn’t such a big deal, but internally, it really was.