Grasshopper we’re going back to basics…
Except we’re doing it Boost My Star Style and going deep on stuff that no one else talks about.
I tend to stay away from “basic” topics like getting ready for pilot season because there is so much content about it that it tends to fall on deaf ears.
However, I had a few questions about this recently from actors that “couldn’t find anything about it anywhere.”
So, I spent some time browsing and Googling trying to find some real advice on this (just as you might have been doing) and I found nothing!
Let me rephrase that. I found nothing of value!
It was all regurgitated platitudes as if everyone read a stale article in Variety and decided to reword it. Everywhere I looked it was more “get in touch with your agent and figure out a plan, be sure your skills are at their best…”
If you’re not already doing that on a daily basis, you probably fall into the “actor” category we often joke about around here.
Take a deep breath and get ready for what no one will tell you about pilot season…
It’s not your time!
Here’s what I mean. If you go back and read just a few of the industry press releases as far back as September-October of last year, you will see that tons of actors have already committed to shows that are in the pilot stage.
What most actors hope for is that pilot season will be their big break.
They think that they will be cast in a show like Friends or Modern Family, that ends up defining a generation and gets picked up for a decade.
In short, they’re hopes and dreams hinge on pilot season being their big break.
A few things about that…
- Is it possible? Yes!
- Is it likely? No!
- Will you have to be lucky for it to happen like that? Yes!
The flip side of that is: luck happens when talent, meets opportunity.
You make your own luck and pilot season can provide that opportunity that your talent is searching for.
The reason that pilot season is never as big as it could be for actors is that there is no ramp time. You wake up, it’s pilot season, and you go to work.
Sounds good on paper but think about it this way. Does a marathon runner wake up on race day and run the 26.2 miles without any ramp time?
No! They have spent months, and in some cases years, building up the stamina to cross the finish line. Pilot season is no different than this.
You have to make sure that you tools in your actor toolbox are ready. Of course your reel should be up to date and top notch, yes you should brush up on your auditioning skills, etc…
But the most important part of ramping up for pilot season is what almost everyone ignores, to their detriment.
This is because it is actually the hidden power that you have during pilot season. Many actors use this throughout the year but during pilot season it is the ultimate leverage!
During pilot season, producers are sitting on an idea that they hope to sell and get into production. Selling a pilot has little to do with production value and it has everything to do with monetization.
This is why, pilots are increasingly coming to the table with big advertisers attached and committed to advertising on the show, if it is picked up. That begs the question…
What brings the big advertisers to a pilot?
Advertisers are in the attention game and will attach to projects for this reason only. Here’s an example…
I’m a big Don Cheadle fan, so I’ll probably be tuning into Ballstreet if it’s picked up. Every time I’m tuned in, I will see the official coffee of Ballstreet via product placement throughout the show.
Would I tune into Ballstreet without Don Cheadle? Probably not.
So that hidden power that you have during pilot season is attention. If you want to have the best shot at being cast in a role that could change your career trajectory, you have to come into pilot season wielding the power of attention.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have the star power of a Don Cheadle.
Today, a great social media presence can make all the difference. You have to put yourself in the producer’s mind frame, and the CD’s chair.
You have to walk into the audition and relieve them of their unspoken burden. They are not looking for the person that is the most talented and that can play the role better than anyone else.
They are looking for the actor that will bring the most viewers (attention) to show. This opens up more opportunities for them with advertisers, and gives their show an edge over the other pilots they are competing against.
The attention that you bring is always a big deal, but it’s ultimate power during pilot season. The stakes are not quite as high once the show has already been picked up.
So, this pilot season, make sure that you ramp up by putting focus on your social media. Back it up by ensuring that your industry reputation is stellar, and then do the routine things like take a class or two, recut your reel, etc.
That’s it grasshopper. You now have the formula for dominating pilot season. What is your next move going to be?
Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email.
Remember, I always have your back, so here’s how I can help you get ready for pilot season.
See you at the top,