I went skiing during pilot season: confessions of a middle class actor.
How many of these emails from agents and managers have I received over the past 6 years, I cannot tell you. The innate fear placed in actors to be totally and completely available and "ready" February to April is so deep. I have had reps in the past actually tell their client list "we refuse to accept book-out dates during this busy season"...cool.
Every actor-driven company in LA is running some type of "pilot season" special, buy extra classes, self-tape time, personal training sessions, etc. Actors across the board are asked to (immediately after the holiday season) be in peak shape mentally and physically and remain that way for 4 months nonstop. Not in class by January 15th? May as well move to Iowa for all the seriousness you put in your career. Don't have fresh expensive "pilot season" headshots and a stack of refreshed resumes (of which you will likely use about 7 in the coming year)? Hope you enjoy waiting tables.
I'm not doing it this year. In fact, in the middle of February I took a full week off, booked out with all my agents, and went fucking skiing.
Ya know what, it was fucking awesome. And I missed one audition. For a commercial.
Why? Because I am a middle class actor with a small amount of credits. I'm also white and play 20-25. This means I probably won't have a "pilot season".
OMG DID SHE JUST SAY THAT??
Yes. Of course I will get a few auditions here and there and of course I will put all my efforts in (as per usual). But the larger portion of auditions I am likely to get are guest star roles casting around the very end of March into April. Since the streaming services have changed the game and created nonstop new shows year round, a lot has changed. Likely, this time of year will look much like my September to November: occasional auditions for smaller TV roles punctuated with a commercial or film spot here and there.
Is this true for you? Maybe not! Maybe you are in a totally different casting demographic OR have some solid credits under you belt OR have some other secret sauce I haven't figured out yet (if so, email me plz I'll buy 7 bottles).
But if you are like me and have spent past years gearing up and buckling down for this big epic time during which you really don't do much of anything, let's take a step back. Time to get real.
Let's evaluate what is considered "being prepared" for pilot season:
- Updated headshots, reel, and resume AND having them all to your agents in a timely and simple manner.
- Having proper training and preparedness so that when a big (or small) audition comes your way you are calm, cool, collected, and kick ass.
- Having simple self-tape capabilities and fellow actors to tape with on short notice.
- Being available, in town, and on time for all appointments.
- Communicating with your reps as needed.
- Being physically prepared and having you in whatever you consider your "fighting shape" via the gym, facials, having the proper makeup and wardrobe handy, etc (this goes without saying but should look very much like your headshot...).
Let me blow your minds: I think these standards should be less panic-induced January issues and more of a year-round idea.
Now I know there is a natural ebb and flow in auditions and work in general. We will never remain in the "100% prepared" column at all times. But if you maintain some semblance of comfort in the list above, I dare say you are indeed "ready" for pilot season (whether or not you have one) or any other time of the damn year!
A note on your reps: they are most likely having a busy pilot season. Unlike us as individuals, they manage several actors at once and are dealing with overworked CD's who are being pressured by network execs...basically they are all very very overwhelmed. So if they do send emails like the one above or seem short on communication, know that this may have nothing to do with you at all. And consider buying them a cup of coffee (even if you don't see the inside of a casting office till April).