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Gearing up for Pilot Season - Essentials



The new year brings many changes. And for actors, those changes can make or break a career. In the acting industry, January kicks off a crucial time called "pilot season." Pilot season is when actors and producers create demo versions of a prospective television series. A pilot's popularity determines whether or not it reaches viewers' television screens. While the launch of a new television series is exciting to viewers, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. Understandably, many actors consider pilot season to be the most stressful time of year! If you're looking to create a pilot that will catch a director's attention, here is what you should know.


Get a Headshot

When you appear for the first time in person, you want a director to be impressed, not disappointed. Directors and hiring managers lament that many individuals don't look the same in person as they do in photos. Some people use photographs that are decades old! Many use photos of their more youthful selves when applying for an acting gig. These images don't depict weight gain, hair loss, wrinkles, or other flaws that often appear with age. Statistics show this happens 25% of the time! Unfortunately, appearing different in person than you do in photos won't win the heart of hiring directors anytime, especially in pilot season. If you don't have recent acting headshots, it's time to hire an experienced photographer to take professional actor headshots in LA.



Look Your Best

When you first meet a stranger, you have less than 10 seconds to make an impression. Like it or not, that initial impression is tough – if not impossible – to change. So in that short amount of time, you naturally want to do what you can to look your very best. One of the easiest ways to improve your appearance in time for pilot season is to get a haircut. A good haircut is especially crucial for actor headshots, as it highlights your most flattering facial features and also gives you a boost of self-confidence. Trimming any excessive or unwanted hair from your face also does wonders for your onscreen appearance. If your teeth are stained from years of drinking coffee, you may want to consider whitening them before smiling in front of a nationwide audience. Feeling your best naturally translates to looking your best before the camera. This creates a better headshot and makes your pilot even more impressive!


Polish Your Resume

Like actor headshots, your resume should be current and polished. It should list your most recent work first and highlight key achievements. You should also include your education, including any continuing acting courses that you've had during your career. Experts also recommend having a current reel available online. The reel should be segmented into short clips lasting 12 seconds or less. This gives hiring managers a chance to get to know you and your work without having to wait through hours' worth of performance. Busy directors will appreciate this gesture and remember you for it.


Go Social

Many people keep in touch through social media. But did you know it's also an important resource for job-seekers? Across all industries, statistics show that 79% of prospective candidates use some form of social media during their job search. Of all resources available, job seekers list social media as the most advantageous job search tool. They consistently use social media over other resources such as recruiting agencies, job ads, job boards, and recruiting events. On the flip side, nearly 85% of prospective employers use social media to find and hire candidates. Of the minority who don't use it already, almost 10% plan to integrate social media into their job advertising campaigns shortly. While Facebook is the most popular social media site for personal use, LinkedIn reigns supreme for job hiring and networking. LinkedIn profiles with quality headshots get 14 times more views and messages than profiles without headshots.


Maintain a Website

Today, the hiring process can ultimately be completed online. Rather than taking the time to read through your resume, call you, and invite you in for an interview, directors will want to get a sense of who you are first. One of the easiest ways they can do this is by visiting your website, which is separate from your social media profile.





A quality website has many advantages. This includes:

  • Giving the viewer a good sense of who you are

  • Showing the type of work that you do

  • Highlighting your pedigree


Websites also make the hiring process easier and reduce the time and cost of the hiring process. Both are advantageous during the busy pilot season! Furthermore, your website can also show hiring managers who you know in the acting industry.


If you still need an incentive to build or improve your website, studies show that hiring managers are 56% more likely to hire a candidate with an up-to-date, polished website than a candidate with an outdated website or no website at all.


Get Fit

While a Los Angeles headshot photographer can work wonders when it comes to erasing blemishes and bringing out your best physical attributes, he or she can't change the way you appear to a director in person. Therefore, it's a good idea to get in shape before filming a pilot or appearing in front of a hiring team. Since pilot season is physically and mentally demanding, it's best to be prepared to handle that extra stress so that you appear radiant and relaxed on screen rather than tired and out of breath.


Stay Healthy

While it's a good idea to be in top physical condition at the start of pilot season, it's also wise to focus on your health. After all, coming down with a cold or strep throat can ruin your window of opportunity at an audition. Even though this is a stressful time of year, be sure to get plenty of rest. Staying hydrated is also vital for your appearance and health. Eating healthy is important for your health and physique. Finally, don't forget about your mental well-being, too. Engaging in yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques can help you stay healthy during the prime season.


Do Your Homework

Showing up unprepared for a casting call can make you nervous, and a hiring director angry. Neither situation is ideal. Therefore, you'll want to do some background research before an audition. If you can, get a script to memorize the lines for your role. It's also a good idea to learn more about the style of the show that you'll be filming. For instance, a television show featuring soldiers returning home after WWII will have a very different style than a show highlighting the world's top island vacation destinations. Learning about others involved in the show is also beneficial.


Have a Mirror

As you're rehearsing, chances are good you are wondering what you look like to the audience. Getting a self-taping system in place is a great way to see how you appear before a hiring manager and the camera. If you don't have access to a self-taping mechanism, find some actor friends who are willing to tape you as you practice for your upcoming pilot audition. Ideally, they'll be more experienced and capable of providing helpful feedback to help you improve.


Focus on Your Strengths

Every human (and every actor) has strengths and weaknesses. While you might identify some personal qualities that you'd like to change, pilot season may not be the best time. Meanwhile, however, you can learn to highlight or improve upon your strengths and skills to appear your best before a hiring director. If you have a terrific memory, show off your talent by memorizing a soliloquy or a series of complicated lines. If you're not so great at memorization, find an acting coach or class that provides assistance.


Hire a Coach

An acting coach should specialize in the type of acting that you're considering for your pilot. He or she can also provide you with basic and essential tips to perform at your best. While you might balk at the cost of hiring an acting coach, rest assured it's worth the investment to get ahead in one of the busiest seasons of the acting year.


Find a Casting Platform

Joining a casting platform can also give you a leg up in the industry. Before joining a casting platform, however, it's important to do some research. The key, experts say, is to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Only sign up for relevant casting platforms, and don't waste your time and money signing up for every web-based casting platform available.


Pilot season is one of the most stressful and nerve-wracking times of the year for actors and actresses. Along with preparing for an audition, looking your best goes a long way in helping you achieve success. Hiring a Los Angeles headshot photographer is an excellent place to start for quality headshots that stand out from the crowd. With a mobile headshot truck and offices in Los Angeles, the Headshot Truck can help you prepare for pilot season quickly and on budget.

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