Pilot season is the four month period between January and April when networks cast and produce dozens of demo TV episodes. Some of these pilot episodes will get the green light and grow into new TV shows that traditionally air in the fall. This is also the time when actors from all over the country come to Los Angeles in the hopes of launching their career by landing a major role in a TV pilot. Below are some tips to help actors make the most out of pilot season and decide when is the right time to move to Los Angeles.
The truth about pilot season trips
If you’re an actor or actress living outside of Los Angeles, you may have heard about special pilot season trips that can jump-start your career. These packaged trips usually include flight, accommodation, intensive workshops or classes and networking events with industry professionals. These trips are a great way to get a glimpse into the workings of Hollywood and can help you decide if you’re ready to move to Los Angeles, but they are not the best way to get your first television acting job.
The truth is that pilot season is the worst time to go to Hollywood for new actors looking to get their foot in the door, for the following reasons:
- January through April is the most competitive time of the year for actors in Los Angeles.
- Casting directors and producers are insanely busy and don’t have time to screen new talent. Even if you get to meet them through a sponsored event, they won’t have the time to get to know your work well enough to feel confident about auditioning you for one of the pilot episodes they cast.
- Los Angeles agents are busy getting as many pilot auditions for their clients as possible, so they don’t have time to meet new talent either.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, an actor who comes to LA for the first time in January for pilot season is not giving himself the best chances of success.
The best time to move to Los Angeles
If you have a good understanding of the frenetic activity that goes on around pilot season, you can plan a move to LA at a time that will give you the best chances of success – in May.
Isn’t pilot season over then? Yes. But here’s the good news…
- Good acting agents and managers have secured jobs for several of their clients in TV pilots, so they are more likely to be interested in meeting new talent to fill their roster of actors again. They will also have more time as things slow down in Hollywood in the summer, which in turn will give you the time to get to know your way around town, find a place to live and a get day job if you need one.
- Come August, episodic season starts and you can get some smaller television roles under your belt. This is important since casting directors want actors with TV experience when auditioning for pilots. Once your have a few guest starring or co-starring roles on your resume, getting calls for pilots will become easier.
- Most LA actors agree that it takes about a year to get your face around town when you first come to Hollywood, so if you work hard and network, you’ll be ready just in time for next pilot season. Because industry players will start to know you and recognize your headshot, you’re more likely to get calls for pilot auditions come January.
Getting the most out of Pilot SeasonWhat if you’ve already planned your move to LA for pilot season? You can still make the most out of pilot season, even if you don’t have that much acting experience yet. How? By targeting other auditions. Concentrate on casting directors that casts exclusively for theater, film or commercials and you’ll find that they are more open to seeing new actors during pilot season, when more experienced actors clear their schedules for pilots and are less available.
Alex Swenson has worked as an actor, writer and film editor for the past 15 years in New York and Los Angeles. She has created the website Acting-School-Stop to help young actors start an acting career. You can find out more information on pilot season at http://www.acting-school-stop.com/pilot-season.html. Aspiring actors can view a step by step guide on how to become an actor at http://www.acting-school-stop.com/become-an-actor.html