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Secret Agent Man

The Special Joys of Pilot Season in L.A.

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The Special Joys of Pilot Season in L.A.
Photo Source: Jonathan Bartlett

This week, I’d like to address all the unfortunate actors who don’t live in Los Angeles. I’m sure you’ve heard many amazing stories about pilot season—and they’re all true! Pilot season is a magical time when the gates to Hollywood swing open and actors are welcomed with open arms. So if you’re not already here, start packing because you don’t want to miss out on all the fun. 

The best part is the welcome you’ll receive at LAX if you choose to fly in. Just look for the adorable little people holding signs that read “Pilot Season Actors.” They’ll escort you to special shuttles that will take you, free of charge, to whatever spot you’ve chosen to make your temporary home. (No, the city doesn’t supply housing for visiting actors. That would be unrealistic.)

As you’re stepping down from the shuttle, your driver will hand you a laminated card that identifies you as an actor who’s visiting town for pilot season. This will help you receive discounts on rental cars, restaurant bills, gym memberships, and many other expenses. 

Once you’re settled, make sure you visit the “Pilot Season Visitor Center.” It’s right off Highland, just south of the Hollywood Bowl. Inside, you’ll find casting notices and scripts for all the pilots that are in production. This information is updated on a regular basis, so you’ll need to drop in more than once.

Believe it or not, famous actors volunteer at the center during pilot season. It’s their way of giving back to an industry that made them more important than doctors and teachers. So try not to act surprised when the pretty lady behind the counter looks like Angelina Jolie!

As you begin studying the material you’ve collected, don’t waste time worrying about all those casting directors who have never met you or seen your work. Yes, that would normally be an issue, but all bets are off during pilot season. You’ll be given just as much priority as the actors who’ve been here for years, working like crazy to build relationships with the casting community.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wait! Don’t I need an agent to help me get in those rooms?” The honest answer to that question is no. Casting directors don’t care about silly details like that during pilot season. Just show up at their door, sides in hand, and they’ll allow you to read. It’s as simple as that.

Now I understand how some of you might prefer to have an agent. That’s completely up to you. The good news is that casting directors aren’t the only ones who are extra receptive during pilot season. The agents here love actors who make a four-month commitment to this town. Just make a list of your favorite companies, and give us a call. We’ll set up a meeting for you right away. Signing brand-new talent during the busiest time of year is much more important than servicing the clients who are currently on our lists.  

Here’s something else you need to know. I’ve seen stories on the Internet that claim studios and networks prefer to hire actors who have some experience in front of a camera. What nonsense. Those people are too expensive! That’s why you never see familiar faces on TV. It makes more sense to hire someone like you, a newcomer with plenty of passion but not much else. Trust me. Experience has never mattered much in this business, and that goes double during pilot season.

So ignore all the doomsayers who complain about how difficult it is to book a pilot. Who needs all that negative energy? The simple truth is that “going to L.A. for pilot season” is just about the smartest thing an actor can do. 

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