3 Ways to Prep for Pilot Season Right Now

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Photo Source: @Lesia.Valentain via Twenty20

With network pilot season fast approaching, now is a great time to up your level of proactivity when it comes to your actor’s toolkit. If the evidence of your career potential isn’t clear in the materials you (and your rep, if you have one) have to work with, now is the time to fix it.

Here are three key categories you should focus on right now:

1. Headshots
It’s easy for any talent rep to proclaim that your headshots “aren’t working” as the reason you aren’t either. But if it’s been two years or more since your last photo session, it’s in the best interest of your career—both in general and for pilot season—to assess their effectiveness.

Your current range of heads shot might be great images but if they’ve been seen in submissions too many times, they run the risk of getting stale. A casting director can easily overlook an image he or she has seen too often, regardless of whether you got an audition. Those images made an impression nonetheless.

There is a “sell-by” date on all products before which time their effectiveness fades and the same holds true for your photos. Research photographers now while your choice of a shoot date will be easier to secure before the holiday rush. Don’t be cheap; professional photo sessions cost money but this is the best investment you can make in your career. No resume credit will open the door to an audition more than a great headshot will. Remember, casting directors won’t see your resume unless they first stopped at and selected your image to review.

READ: Why This Pilot Season is Different

2. Reel
You should also review and assess the video evidence of your career progression. A demo reel will almost always be part of an audition submission, so be sure to remove clips where the quality isn’t 100 percent professional-looking. Flaws in lighting, sound, and camera work will distract the casting director from viewing your performance, instead focusing him or her on why it does not look good or sound right. It’s better not to send a clip than to send one the doesn’t showcase you in the best light.

3. Self-tape Setup
If you’re not prepared to produce your own self-tape the same day you receive the request, fix that now. This will serve you well throughout and after pilot season. What do you need? A device to shoot on, a lav-type mic for you to wear (do not use the built-in mic in your camera), an entry-level light kit, a solid, light color (not white) cloth or sheet to record in front of, and editing software that will allow you to process and upload your finished audition as quickly as possible.

You may also want to set up an account with a (free) large file delivery service. Most digital files are too large to simply send by email, but WeTransfer, Google Drive, and Dropbox are great options.

The idea of a traditional pilot season is quickly going away as more platforms than ever start to provide content. This means that the need for pilots for all kinds of projects has never been greater. While the major TV networks continue to focus on the winter and early spring for their needs, the end result for those other platforms has been the creation of a nearly year-long pilot season to fit their non-traditional programming needs.

Opportunity will always prevail, so be ready for it.

Check out Backstage’s 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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Brad Lemack
Brad Lemack is a Los Angeles-based talent manager, educator, career coach, and author. He established Lemack & Company Talent Management in 1982. The company specializes in the career development of new and emerging artists and the brand maintenance and career enhancement of legacy artists and working actors. He also teaches The Business of Acting at the Emerson College Los Angeles Campus. His latest book is The New Business of Acting: The Next Edition.
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