Pilot Season 101
Pilot season is when producers cast pilot episodes for new TV series to be aired in the fall. It can be a great opportunity for up-and-coming actors to get a break in their television acting careers. This questions and answers page offers information and advice to actors who want to know when pilot episodes are cast, how to get TV pilot auditions, and how to get the most out of pilot season to reach their career goals.
What's a TV pilot episode?
A demo episode from an unproduced TV series. Pilots are used to give network executives a sample of what a TV series would be like. If the series gets the green light, TV pilots usually become the first episode of the first season, but not always.
When is pilot season?
Traditional pilot season spans from January to April but nowadays, with networks releasing new series year-round, there are opportunities to be cast in a TV pilot any time.
Why is pilot season such a big deal?
Young actors can see their careers skyrocket if they are cast as a series regular in a TV pilot that gets "picked up" by the networks ("picked up" means it will air on TV). Recently, a lot of pilots have involved film stars who embrace television careers. This makes it harder for unknown actors to land lead roles in TV pilots, but there's still plenty of supporting and series regular roles open to lesser known actors.
Does pilot season still exist?
Yes, not as many pilots are being produced as in the past, but there are still a lot of career opportunities for young actors in pilot episodes.
How do I get auditions for TV pilots?
The bulk of your auditions will come from your agent. If you plan on coming to Los Angeles from out-of-town and don't have an LA agent yet, mail your headshot and resume to Los Angeles acting agencies several months before the start of the season. Finding an agent may be hard, since most acting agencies are not interested in representing someone for just a few months, but if you are a SAG actor with strong credits on your resume, it's worth the effort.
If you don't have an agent, follow these acting tips on how to find acting auditions. You can also find out information about upcoming pilots in the "trades". Variety lists pilots from the major networks and The Hollywood Reporter publishes online TV production charts that includes information on casting.
Whether you have an agent or not, casting director workshops are a great way to
get your face around during pilot season. Many acting studios offer these workshops
around town. Actors pay a fee for a one-time class with a casting director where
they get to ask questions, read for the casting director and get feedback on their
headshot and resume. Choose workshops with casting directors who cast a lot of
pilots or who cast pilots you think you're right for, but remember that these
classes are educational in nature and not meant to directly get you auditions.
How do I nail a pilot audition?
How does one go from a Pilot Audition
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