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Backstage Experts

11 Ways to Get Ready For Pilot Season

11 Ways to Get Ready For Pilot Season
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Most casting for new series takes place during pilot season. Pilot season runs from approximately January through April, ending with the networks’ annual upfronts in May, where network executives unveil their new fall and midseason shows to potential advertisers and the press. A pilot that gets picked up can quickly skyrocket your career! Here are some tips to help you get ready for the coming pilot season.

Update your tools
Headshots should capture the essence of who you are and the kinds of roles in which you can be cast. They should look like you will when you arrive at the audition. Résumés should be organized, easy to read, and up to date. Have your current reel available online in single clips and labeled so casting can watch your 12-second comedy clip, for example, without having to watch your entire reel.

Update your website
Your website makes it easy for people to find you. It presents you in the way you want to be perceived and tells people about your current projects. It’s also the hub for your social media platforms. It’s an indispensable promotional tool. Keep it current, and make sure your social media platforms are also up to date and optimized.

Get in shape & stay healthy
Pilot season can be stressful. To maximize every opportunity you’ll need to spend a lot of time and energy preparing to be your best. Eat well, work out, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated. Keep your head clear by doing yoga, meditation, or whatever keeps you focused and in touch with yourself.

Do your research
Read the breakdowns for all of the characters. Get a script if you can. Research everyone involved in the project; what they’ve done can give you a feel for what the style of this new show may be.  

Have a self-taping system
Don’t scramble when the call comes. Have your self-taping setup ready or know where you’ll go to tape. Line up some actor friends now who are willing to read for each other when tapings come up.

READ: Pilot Season, the Checklist

Talk with your reps
Agree upon the kinds of roles you’ll be submitted for and how you’ll confirm auditions. Good communication creates less stress so you can focus on preparing.

Plan ahead
A little forethought keeps small things from becoming big things. Is your car gassed up? Is your MetroCard low? Do you need more headshots? Are your printer ink levels low? Are your clothes clean and pressed? Think ahead.

Hone your skills
Don’t wait for an audition to start working on your cold reading and memorization skills. Find a class or a coach and stay sharp.

Get an audition coach
Going solo for important auditions is risky. A great audition coach is a small investment for a potentially huge return. Find yours before pilot season.

Bring you to your audition
Because audiences watch series regulars over many seasons, casting directors look for interesting, confident actors who understand that uniqueness is their currency. Co-star roles and, to a lesser extent, guest star roles function to move the plot forward. In series regular auditions, youare your greatest asset. Bring your unique point of view to everything you do. Trust and own it throughout your audition. Ask yourself what youwould do in the character’s circumstances. Then be yourself in them as if they were happening to you right now.

Have fun!
Everything in life is a choice. Instead of making pilot season a high-pressure test, make it a grand experiment in how relaxed, present, and confident you can be. Nail that and you’ll have the most fun you’ve ever had at precisely the right time!

Philip Hernández is a New York City–based audition coach, working actor, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Hernández’s full bio!

Ready to tackle pilot season? Check out our TV audition listings!  

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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