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3 Pilot Season Tips For The Aspiring Actor

By Anton Javelosa

Actors looking to jumpstart their career prepare for pilot season years in advance. Landing a spot on the next big TV phenomenon isn’t quick work, and despite the fact that the casting portion of pilot season normally runs from February to April, only a distinct handful make it.

There’s no clear, winning formula for getting to the top in the acting game. There are simply too many factors to handle, with sheer luck being a major one among them much of the time.

If you’re an aspiring actor interested in trying your hand at pilot season, not all is lost. There might not be a winning formula, but we’ve put together five pieces of advice that can give you a definite advantage.

Picture of a clapperboard with script

Photo taken from youthincmag.com

1. Move In or Get Out

If you’re new to pilot season, the first thing you need to do is understand that winners start playing the game months before casting begins. Unless you have the face of an angel and a devil’s charm, don’t count on getting anywhere before you’ve established a reputation in the scene. Pilot season isn’t a weekend trip; it’s a major career move and life decision.

That’s why moving to your target city for a while is the only way to stand a real chance. You don’t need to uproot yourself completely—a good number of successes made the choice to move in six months ahead of casting. That’s roughly enough time to work through the next few crucial steps, as we’ll discuss in later points.

If the thought of the cost and effort of looking for a place that’ll accept leases for an extended, but not permanent stay has you thinking twice, don’t worry. There are services built to take care of that for you. Temporary housing for pilot season is easier now that the market for extended nightly stays are learning to take advantage of the digital age.

In fact, many aspiring actors are looking to corporate housing solutions for larger and more affordable living arrangements.

The important thing is to get a head start, and take the process seriously. You either invest months to the challenge, or find another dream.

2. Be Prepared

If this bit of advice sounds a little vague, that’s because there’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to preparing as an actor. Read up on the makings of a great headshot and have one taken by a professional. Take acting classes, find out your strengths and weaknesses, and identify your best angles. Get in shape—or don’t, depending on what kind of roles you’re after.

The best way we can think to summarize this point is: take your craft seriously. The bits of advice you get from your audition coaches and from friends who’ve made it aren’t just lip service --they’re necessary steps born out of experience. There’s no time to drag your feet when it comes to pilot season, and if you’re set on living in LA for a while so as to give yourself a fighting chance, then you have the advantage of knowing the local trends.

3. Get To Know The Locations

Before settling into your city of choice, it only makes sense to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the shooting process. You’d be well off to know where auditions are being held so that you can find a place that's nearby or, at the very least, accessible. Remember, you want to spend most of your time booking auditions, not stuck in traffic.

We encourage you to scout apartments close to your desired shooting sites. Trust us, you'll save yourself a lot of time and effort once you're there.

Photo of an acting workshop

Photo taken from matthewsopera.com

As an additional tip, conduct your due diligence before signing up for anything: just because an audition is set in the Hollywood area doesn’t guarantee its legitimacy.

The more you research about the industry, the quicker you’ll be able to distinguish between scams and opportunities; and the longer you stay in L.A. to prepare, the more you’ll learn about the industry.

Conclusion

Pilot season isn’t the toughest thing in the world, but it does come close. The task can be Herculean, but we’re sure you don’t need to be reminded of what rewards are waiting for those who can pull it off. Gather your wits and steel your nerves, because choosing this road means you’re in it for a rather long haul.

And if at the end of the day things don’t work out, it isn’t the end of the world. Fold with grace. Take the skills and experiences you’ve collected and let them motivate you as you push through to the next project. Whether you choose to move back home or hang onto that rental unit a little longer, you’re all the better for having tried.

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by Anton Javelosa

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