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4 Lethal Pilot Season Mistakes Most Actors Make (And The Fixes You Need For Each)

pilot season

Pilot Season.

Two simple words send a shiver down the spine of thousands of actors every year…

Why does the annual madness known as Pilot Season cause shivers?  

I'll tell you in just a sec…

But more importantly…

How can you avoid the 4 BIG mistakes those shivers will cause you to make?

Don't worry…I've got ya covered

Let's dig in…

Pilot Season, Harry Potter & The Dark Forest

As an actor, if you’ve been through Pilot Season before, you feel schizophrenic, exhausted, and full of self-doubt all at the same time while you’re simultaneously trying to convince network executives, producers and casting directors that you’re a self-confident, artistic genius who should star in their show.

If you’ve never been through it before, you’ve no doubt heard the horror stories…

And you sort of feel like you're Harry Potter walking through the dark forest.

You don't know what terrors lie ahead, but you know it's not good, and you wish you had that wonderful magic wand in your pocket to make everything OK.

In the hopes of helping you avoid the schizophrenic, exhausted self-doubt and/or the Harry Potter in the dark forest phenomenon, here are 4 of the biggest Pilot Season mistakes most actors make and how you can easily avoid them.

4 Lethal Pilot Season Mistakes and The Fixes

 

Pilot Season Mistake #1: Treating It Like An Episodic Audition

It may look like an episodic audition. After all, it is for a television series.

But a pilot audition has nuances and quirks that an episodic audition does not have.

Often the sides are voluminous. Many times there is an excessive amount of exposition, as the writers are trying to lay the groundwork and backstory for what’s to come in the whole season ahead.

pilot season

So, yes, it’s a TV audition and all those rules do apply. But it’s not a guest star.

For a Series Regular audition they are really looking for a lot more of YOU in the role.

They want to see what YOU — unique individual YOU — will look like as their character for many years to come.

So, it's really important to learn how to be uber-confident in any audition and be fully present in your auditions so that YOU coming shining through any character that you read.

Don’t be afraid to show who you are in the character. It's what they want to see.Click To Tweet

They don’t want to see yet another actor reading the role EXACTLY like every other actor. Casting Directors want to see your unique thang that only YOU can bring to a role.

When you find the right role and it finds YOU, that’s where the magic happens.

Pilot Season Mistake #2: Being Under-Prepared

During pilot season, you may find yourself going from audition to audition, character to character (that’s where the schizophrenia comes in), but some will stand out over others. Some will matter more to you than others. In the ideal world, you’d spend days preparing for each one. But in pilot season, you don’t have that luxury.

pilot season

Be professional and prepare as much as you possibly can. But for the special ones, get coached. Invest in yourself here and it will pay off.

A good pilot audition will inspire the Casting Director bringing you back for roles all season long.Click To Tweet

Even if you don’t get the role, a good pilot audition will have the Casting Director bringing you back for roles all season long and for other projects to come.

Pilot Season Mistake #3: Apologizing and Making Excuses In The Audition Room

In my years inside the audition room, there was one pet peeve phrase we always hated to hear. “I’m sorry…I just got the sides”.

Sometimes before the audition. Sometimes right after. Either way, don’t say it.

Saying it before sets us up to look for shortcomings. Saying it right after says “I don’t believe I’m good enough and neither should you”.

pilot season

Just don’t say it.

Here’s why.

Excuses - even if they're true - will never work in your favor in the audition room.Click To Tweet

If YOU just got the sides, you can rest assured that MOST other actors reading also just got them. You are on an even playing field so there’s nothing to apologize for. Just show up and do your best work.

Pilot Season Mistake #4: Making Pilot Season Your Be All And End All

Yes, there are tremendous opportunities in pilot season. But when you allow yourself to take on so much pressure and make it so “important”, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice.

You have to realize that at the same time that it is important, it's also NOT important.

Nothing is so important in your career that you should hang so much “significance” on one pilot season. That significance will be like strapping on a pair of cement shoes that will sink your audition.

pilot season

Decide to make pilot season an adventure. You CAN choose to have fun with pilot season — even with all that stuff at stake.

But it is a choice.

And if that choice seems like pie in the sky, Pollyanna talk, then it’s only because you haven’t yet learned the easy way to change your mindset and let go of nerves, significance, fear and angst around auditions.

There are tools for that.

Pilot Season 6-Step Blueprint – Free Webclass

Get My  Proven 6-Step “Insider's” Blueprint To Dominate This Pilot Season…And All TV Season Long

Click Here To Register For The Free Pilot Season Domination Webclass

If you don’t get rid of the cement shoes of your “attachment to the outcome” it’s impossible for you to actually do your best work.

After all, how can you do your best work when a significant chunk of your thoughts are devoted to all that pressure and significance?

You can't be completely present in your audition if your head is filled with 'mind trash'. Learn to let it go.Click To Tweet

It actually keeps you from being 100% present and it’s absolutely impossible to embody any character fully when your unsupportive trash-talkin’ monkey-mind chatter has taken over.

If you find yourself freaking out about pilot season, either because of the self-inflicted pressure or the fear of the unknown, there’s a fix for that.

Pre-Pilot Season Innoculation.

FOR SEASONED PILOT SEASON VETERANS:

In other words, learn a few tools that you can whip out during the frenzy of pilot season NOW. Don’t wait until you are in the throws of pilot chaos to figure it out.

FOR NEWER ACTORS WHO'VE NEVER BEEN THROUGH PILOT SEASON:

And, if you’re newer to the business, NOW is the time to lay the foundation for many smooth auditions and pilot seasons to come. Don’t wait.

The sooner you learn the simple ways to educate and inoculate yourself from the insanity, the greater your confidence level will be when you encounter it.

Then you’ll be the actor who gracefully eases their way through a network test and walks out confidently and says:

“Nailed it!”

….because you did!

You DESERVE The Red Carpet,
~Amy

P.S.  Want to CRUSH Pilot Season this year? Join me for the upcoming free Pilot Season Domination online training and Get My Proven 6-Step Pilot Season Insider's Blueprint so you can use the insider secrets to navigate pilot season like an A-lister.

Pilot Season 6-Step Blueprint – Free Webclass

Get My  Proven 6-Step “Insider's” Blueprint To Dominate This Pilot Season…And All TV Season Long

Click Here To Register For The Free Pilot Season Domination Webclass

Your turn! Have you been through pilot season before?  What was your biggest challenge?  If you're newer, what is your biggest fear about pilot season?  Please share it in the comments below :-)

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Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com

“I show actors how to be better, book more jobs and live The Red Carpet life!”

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  • Richard Allan Jones

    Great advice I would love to put into practice, but I’ve been here six years and my agent has yet to send me for pilot season, nor has any appropriate roles appeared on the boards. Maybe a blog on how to find/get a pilot season audition? Thanks!

    • If you’re represented by a good agent and not getting out for pilot season there may be other things that need tweaking Richard. It could be a number of different things…headshots, demo reel, agent, your networking, branding, etc. If I were you, I’d do whatever it takes to figure that out so you don’t sit out another pilot season. Once you have the problem diagnosed, then you can create a solution. If you’d like help with that, please do contact my office at asst@amyjoberman.com

      • Richard Allan Jones

        It could be my age. I’m 68. But cast in my 50’s. Either way not a lot of roles written and I am up against experienced actors who already have their foot in the door.

  • Vickie Warehime

    Great advice! Just getting into the swing of the business and scheduled a career consultation. You are right when you say you have to invest in yourself. Thanks for the tips.

    • Way to go Vickie! Looking forward to working with you :-)

  • Anna Sahlstrom

    I heard from a panel of industry executives at Actor Fest that it is extremely rare for someone who is non-union, like myself, to be considered for a pilot. And how can I participate in pilot season if I don’t currently live in LA or New York? Is it possible to get a pilot audition without an agent?

    • That is true. It’s definitely much more of a challenge. HOWEVER, there are other ways to maximize pilot season if that is where you are in your career right now. The worst thing you can do is just accept that. The best thing you can do is get proactive and learn how to use the time the best way you can while setting yourself up for the next burst of TV activity, which is episodic season.

  • Benn Norman Phillip Allsop

    wheres the best place to keep informed of all the pilots etc

    • Read the trades and also Deadline.com. Or google “pilot season 2015” and you’ll find several articles with the lineups.

  • Great tips! Unfortunately, I’ve not made it to the level in my career where this really applies to me. But I’ve definitely learned something, and I hope that this becomes applicable to me shortly. You’re definitely right in that I’ve heard horror stories, can’t wait to say that I’ve been there though! Thanks Amy!

  • Andy

    I actually have a question about the part of the vlog where you said not to blame your former reps for the state of your career (which I totally agree with) but what do you suggest saying instead? If you haven’t worked much lately (or at all) what can you say? Especially if you haven’t been getting out much as a result (or weren’t getting out much which resulted in less work?) You want to sound aware and accountable but how can you do that without reflecting badly on yourself or over sharing?

  • Vic Rogers

    I’m actually on my way to LA tomorrow for a pilot audition for a lead role. I’m non-union but for great representation in LA. I did a lot of networking and making demos and monologues to put myself out there. Since I live in Phoenix it was hard to get out there but I found my way.

  • Clifford Ray Berry

    I am Sag-Aftra and this will be my first Pilot Season! I am , however, unrepresented as of now. What sites do you recommend for union actors with no representation to find and get pilot auditions? I’m registered for the webinar. Can’t wait!

  • JO

    Thank you. I do tend to put a lot of pressure on pilot season. I have a new Agent and hope they get me into the right doors. I’ve been at this so long and have worked hard at branding, networking, getting great HS/R/Reels. I’m so ready Amy! Thanks again, these blogs, videos are wonderful!

    -Jo

  • Hi Amy. I’ve been through the months of pilot season and had activity but I was nonunion. I think this year is my year. I have done everything I can to prepare. I have a new head shots, I have an agent, acting classes and private lessons by two people. I sent out postcards to all the casting director’s I’ve met through workshops with my new headshot. I’ve been working on my comedy and drama. I’m ready! Let the games begin.! So if there’s anything else you think I should do, please let me know. I’ll be tuning in to your webinar. Can’t wait. PS say hi to Ingrid your assistant.

  • Blake C. Burt

    Hey hey Mrs. Amy. Hope you’ve been well. I always love reading your articles that my manager Cinda sends me. Over the past 2 years living in L.a. they have really helped me take steps forward, helped me with booking those roles that seemed unachievable at the time, and I can’t thank you enough. Cheers to a wonderful pilot season.

    -Blake C. Burt

    • So happy to hear that Blake. It makes my day knowing I could be of help to you. Yay! Please thank your thoughtful Manager, Cinda, for me too.

  • Leah Rae

    Amy thank you so much for all your insightful articles and advice! ❤️🙏🏼 It really makes a difference 👱🏻‍♀️😁

  • Marty Rhone

    Hi Amy, I will be making my first foray into Pilot Season in 2017 from across the great blue water so the webinar is most timely. Thank you for your generosity in sharing with us your extensive experience & knowledge. Marty Rhone

  • Shante Armstrong

    Hello Amy,

    Pilot Season, in 2017, will be my very first. I don’t know exactly what to expect but, I know it will be a ton of fun. I plan to treat pilot season just as I would treat any other audition or casting (by just being the best me, that I can possibly be.) Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!