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5 THINGS EVERY ACTOR SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 2016’s PILOT SEASON

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLETT! Pilot Season started earlier than ever this year and is moving like lightening. Don’t get lefPilot-Season-Logot behind, find out what you need to know here. 

1. WHAT IS A PILOT? The Pilot itself is a stand-alone episode of a series that is used to sell the series and will usually run as the first episode of the series, if picked up.

Over the summer the major networks all received short pitches for new shows from writers and producers. Then in the fall, each network requested scripts from about seventy of those pitches.

By January, the network has chosen twenty of those scripts from which to make pilots. Pilot season is the annual high-pressure race to the finish line. The race generally happens between January andApril, culminating at The Upfronts in May.

With more and more cable networks producing original content the start and end times of pilot season as blurred. This year pilots began casting as early as NOVEMBER! Whaaat? Yes. True.

During the coming months studios battle it out to cast, produce, and test the best new series.

Once they have been produced, those pilots are presented to studio and network executives (and sometimes to test audiences). Each network then chooses between 4 and 8 pilots to present at The Upfronts where they are added to network schedules for the following season.

2. HOW ARE PILOTS CAST? Most pilots have about 6 weeks to cast anywhere from 5-25 roles. In the TV world where you have 2 days to cast 12 roles, 6 weeks is A LOT of time, meaning A LOT of actors can get seen. However, because producers want to sell their idea, they usually jam pack that pilot with well known actors if they can.

First, lists are made up of first choice actors – the A-List – then second choice – the B list- (hence the term A-List, B-List etc.) Later in the season casting will pull from agent submissions. Often actors on the aforementioned lists will opt out of auditions for already-established TV programs during this time. The reasoning behind this strategy is that most actors (and their agents) would rather bet on booking a pilot that gets picked up, where they sign a multiple year contract, than take a week’s worth of work on a current show. Lessmoney upfront, but it could pay off with more money and work in the future if the pilot goes to series.

3. HOW CAN AN ACTOR PREPARE? If you have representation, follow up with them now and figure out a game plan.

This should include your own marketing plan of drop-offs, postcards and networking. Consider doing Casting Director Workshops with new casting offices, but also re-meets of people who like you (they have called you in before or booked you).

Additionally, don’t focus solely on pilots. Even with great training, reps, some credits and business relationships, you might not get any pilot auditions.  Keep in mind, pilot season is also the second half of 2014/2015 episodic season. REMEMBER all those actors who are opting out? They leave a chasm for YOU to fill. Also, shows that have a full season pick-up order are still very, very active in casting!!

+ Make sure that you are audition-ready no matter what stage you are at! Luck + preparation = opportunity!

+ If you do not have representation, you REALLY need to make sure you have a marketing plan in place for drop-offs, postcards, other updates (Mail Chimp anyone?) and networking. Actors without reps should not rely on pilot auditions. Most of the time casting goes to their industry list and then agent submissions.

+ If you are non-union, your first priority should be getting at least SAG/AFTRA-Eligible. No matter the season, your focus should be on commercials, films and a very, few, specific tv casting directors who are open to seeing non-union actors. Here is my post on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET SAG-AFTRA. No excuses!

4. HOW ARE THINGS CHANGING?

Now that Amazon and Netflix are in the game, the landscape is more and more crowded. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m always telling actors to create their own work, weather it’s a webseries or a short film or stand up comedy.

This year’s trends include a lot of pilots based on webseries or even podcasts. Yes. Podcasts. Also there are a lot of the tried and true procedurals, medical dramas and crime dramas. See more here from the Hollywood Reporter on development trends. 

Fellow consultant, Mackenzie Marsh auditioned for lead roles in 9 pilots and tested on 3 last year, this year she has ALREADY tested for one and it’s only January.

Likewise Act Now consultant LJ Salerno had this to say:

“This was the first year I went in for series regulars on pilots since the first year I moved out here 12 years ago. I went in for two comedies. Both were in November and December.   And for a series regular on “Good Girls Revolt” in April-ish?..right after my guest star on the Middle aired. That was a Netflix series. “

5. WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

TVLine writes super informational articles about each season, but it’s released late Janurary.

 Variety has a list of up-to-the-minute series and pilot orders.

 Deadline Hollywood is another great resource.

There is also The Hollywood Reporter. As things get moving and shaking, www.thefutoncritic.com and www.castingabout.com. are great ways to keep up with developments in addition to who the casting office is attached to each project.

Any pilot season stories to tell? Comment below and help your fellow actors!

 

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Are You Up-To-Date? 10 Resources for TV 2016

The first time one of my favorite shows got cancelled I was devastated. It hadn’t occurred to me that Charlie’s Angels wouldn’t go on forever.

But I’ve grown up since then. Now, as an actor, it’s my business to know who is casting what TV shows and when.

And yes, as I’ve said many times it’s all about relationships. The best ones are those that go on for many years, those Casting Directors, Producers, and Directors that want to see you for EVERY show they work on. But we can’t always count on those people having work.

In this industry it pays to be on top of the latest news, and as an actor it’s important to your strategy. You want to create NEW relationships with the professionals who are likely to have jobs for you this season, BEFORE the season starts. And congratulate those people you already have relationships with on staying in the game!

Like we say at Act Now, “If you’re not working, you should be networking!”

What this means is that you need to know what’s cancelled and what’s renewed for the 2015 TV season. These lists will change over the next four to six weeks, so you’ll need to check back to stay current.

Here are some resources to help you stay on top of the latest news for the 2016 Television season. 

1. I found www.spoilertv.com to have the chart that was easiest to read, with shows listed alphabetically. There is also a menu at the top where you can choose by network. 

2. www.metacritic.com is a reputable site with a more complicated scorecard, listed by network. 

3. www.tvseriesfinale.com is just a list of what’s cancelled, cut straight to the chase!

4. www.tvline.com has a great list of CABLE TV shows renewed or cancelled, and promises updates.  

5. www.imdb.com has a nice conglomeration of lists with fancy photos to help you remember what show it is. 

6. Also on www.imdb.com is a list of series orders, updated often! 

7. It’s also wise for actors to check www.castingabout.com which lists the current season, the episode order, as well as the casting director and associate. 

8. www.tvguide.com has a list of cancellations, easy to read with graphics and very reliable!

9. Pilot season starts early with CABLE! Check www.thehollywoodreporter.com to see the latest! 

10. Last but not least you need to know what’s casting MIDSEASON! Look at www.tv.com’s list of Most Anticipated Midseason shows! 


 

Now you have everything you need to research your target shows.

No excuses. You can do it! Click click boom!

 

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