Some say there are no seasons in LA. I beg to differ. There is Award Season, Pilot Season, Hiatus, and Episodic Season. The latter has just begun. What is that?
Episodic Season is one of the major casting and filming seasons of the year in the entertainment industry.
This is the time of year when the episodes of many television shows are being cast and filmed. The series regulars were probably already cast during pilot season. Occasionally there is re-casting. For the most part the casting directors are now focused on casting co-stars, guest-stars, and recurring characters to fill out the episodes of their upcoming television season.!
The peak of the season runs from mid July through mid December every year, although with the advent of Cable there is now some casting year- round. It is probably more likely that a newer actor will get called in to audition and/or book a job during Episodic season for a number of reasons.
There are usually between 5 and 25 co-star roles in the larger procedural-type 1 hour shows, fewer in 1/2 hour shows, obviously. In addition, there are possibly 1 to 8 guest star (larger) roles per 1 hr. episode depending on the show. Finally, there are the occasional recurring characters, some of which may start out as just one line.
These smaller roles are the parts that most working actors cut their teeth on, often starting with co-stars and working their way up as they build credibility.
Co-star parts used to be called “under five(s)” because the designation referred to any part with less than five lines. These days, if it can be filmed in one day, the production can pay the actor as a co-star no matter how many lines in the part (read- they save money!). Most “name” actors are not willing to accept these smaller parts or will insist on guest star billing (which makes them more expensive).
Keep in mind also that many of the large agents will not submit on these parts because they won’t make enough money on them. So, casting directors often go to their own personal files – who impressed them in an improv show, in a workshop, or in a play recently? This is where new talent is welcome. So, episodic season is a season of OPPORTUNITY!
And not only for new talent, but for new specific talent. Talent that is recognizable as a particular type instantly. When you have only a few seconds (remember most often just a few lines for co-stars, maybe a few scenes for guest stars) to make the audience believe you are a perp, a prostitute, a victim, a ditz, a nosy neighbor, or whatever archetype–the point is you’ve got to have that kind of energy, that kind of face, that kind of delivery right off the bat. There is no time for the delicious character work we see Johnny Depp doing in “Pirates of the Carribean.” Casting Associates tell me they get 1600-2200 online submissions per role, per episode– so it REALLY helps to have a relationship with them.
The casting process happens VERY quickly this time of year, and especially in Television.
You are at an audition and within a matter of days could be on-set if you book a role. What this adds up to for every actor is that we must know as many casting directors as possible when this season starts and stay on their radar during this time. The producers will be the ones to make a final decision as to who is hired, but the casting directors are the ones who get us in front of those producers when they call us in for an audition, agent or no agent. We want to be “in the mix” when those parts come up that are right for us. As competitive as it is in today’s market, we can’t afford to miss out on a single part.
What does an actor need to do start CRUSHING Episodic Season in 2015?
-Know what parts you are right for and have marketing materials ready and upload any new materials to the appropriate sites. If you don’t know, check out my new post on MARKETING.
– Research the new shows! I have another post on Resources for that if you’re not sure where to start.
-Be in town for all of Episodic Season. You want your agent to be in town right? Yeah, they want you to be in town too. And if you leave, book out as soon as you know.
-More and more Non Disclosure Agreements are in effect, so scripts and sides are often not being released ahead of time. Discuss it with your team and have a strategy to handle this.
-Get out there and meet Casting professionals and then stay in touch with them on a regular basis. Reconnect your relationships with postcards, email blasts, social media posts.
-There are more and more last minute/same day auditions for re-writes (which happens more often in the comedy world)– so be aware of your schedule and be flexible. Have a few audition outfits and hard copy headshots in your car. Make sure your “day job” is flexible and that you have a nanny/dogsitter/sub available at all times.
-The biggest trend in 2015 is that a lot of new one hour dramas have moved outside of LA, comedies (majority of them) cast in LA– so keep that in mind for targets and training. And if you are so inclined, develop a presence in more than one market. (i.e.: Go to Toronto, New Orleans, New York, etc. and establish residency and get to know the industry professionals there.) If you book a guest star (or a recurring) this could pay off. Consider starting a travel fund.
– Self-taping. It’s not too pricey anymore to buy a video camera and record an audition on your own. There are also many coaches who can tape you and taping facilities. If you get more than a day to self-tape don’t waste time. Get it done. Then if you rep needs it re-done you’re not screwed. This avenue is becoming more and more common so make sure you practice at this. Check out this article in BSW on Self-Taping!
-Be prepared – make sure your audition skills are well-oiled and ready to roll! It’s great to have a class where you have the option to bring sides in to work on them before an audition, better still if that class is on-camera. Have a coach you can trust in your speed dial.