9 Steps in Getting Your Child Actor Ready for Pilot Season

Holly Bissonnette| July 2, 2014

If you are a parent of a child actor, you need to be aware of everything that is going on in the industry. One of the things you need to keep an eye on is the pilot season for television productions. This is a time when a great number of opportunities are open for both adult and child actors, who wish to launch their careers on television.

Although casting for television shows is already done all throughout the year now, the pilot season usually starts around January and continues until April. This is when everyone in television production is quite busy with the casting and filming of an estimated 100 to 150 cable and broadcast pilots.

So, if you believe you and your kid are all ready for the pilot season, here are some steps you can consider to ensure that you achieve success for all your efforts:

1. Set a meeting with your kid’s agent or manager.

The pilot season is one of the best times for the management team of your child’s career to meet. Such industry professionals as your young actor’s agent or manager will surely have some advice to impart about the season. Aside from this, you should also get their commitment for the active promotion of your kid if you will go through with auditioning during this season. If your kid’s representation is located on the East Coast and you are headed to the west, you need to ask if they have an office in the area that could serve you.

If your child does not have a talent agent or manager yet, then the pilot season is not the time that you head out to either the East or West Coast to find them one. As this is a busy time for everyone, your kid will not get a chance to meet with agents during this time.

2. Establish your targets.

Competition is rife in the entertainment business. Because of this, there is absolutely no assurance that your child will get cast for a pilot. In case this happens, you need to get him ready to accept things as they are and see the season as a success in terms of getting new skills, gaining experiences, and appreciating the business. The skills and views developed by your child early on in their career are usually what will help them succeed when they are older.

3. Choose between West and East.

You cannot get to all the auditions held on the West and East Coast. So, you need to choose between the two for your base during the pilot season. Around half of the pilots are usually shot in Los Angeles, so you can decide to be based here. On the other hand, if you are located on the East Coast, then you can head on to New York, which is the second top location for where pilot episodes are filmed.Although there are smaller cities that host the production of pilots, the number is not as plentiful as those in Los Angeles and New York. So, while your kid might get a chance of landing a role in these smaller cities, they may have better luck where there are more auditions and casting.

4. Give relocation serious thought.

If you wish to increase the chances of your kid to get more auditions during the pilot season, you need to think seriously about relocating to the major cities where the productions are being shot. However, this will need a huge commitment on your part, as this may put a strain not just on your finances, but also on your organizational skills.

Aside from getting temporary housing located in an area that is convenient for last-minute callbacks, you also need a rental car to ferry you from one audition venue to another. If your kid is already schooling, then they need to go on their education in a manner that is accepted at their local school. This is imperative if they are set to work in New York or California as an actor. Before you relocate though, you need to acquire the appropriate trust account and work permit for your kid.

5. Get the right equipment and materials.

As an aspiring actor, your kid should always have high quality electronic and hard copies of their resumes and headshot ready at all times. If you are planning to take part in the pilot season auditions and casting, then these materials should be ready beforehand.

Plus, you should also be ready to send in video auditions at a moment’s notice. These can either be taken from consumer cameras or high quality smartphones placed on tripods. Just remember that your kid’s videos should be shot inside a quiet venue with adequate lighting and a blank wall.

To submit audition videos more efficiently, you should have a Dropbox or Hightail account as most video sizes are too large to be emailed. It is highly advised that you do not post these videos on YouTube or on your child’s website though, unless it is protected by a password. Public viewing of projects in its pre-production stage is usually not allowed and breaching this policy might result in your not getting the part.

6. Develop your skills further.         

Make sure that your child meets up with their acting coach way before the auditions for pilot season are about to start. Doing this will help them learn the best approach to use for the different show formats in television like situation comedies that run for half an hour or dramas that are usually an hour long. There are also sketch comedies, animated productions and shows for Disney or Nickelodeon.

Your young actor will need to understand what casting directors are looking for when they ask you to go “over the top” or “big” while going for Nickelodeon or Disney auditions. They should also know the meaning of timing and spacing, as these are very important skills for acting auditions.

Aside from meeting up with their acting coach, your child should also enroll in ongoing acting classes and workshops. It is best if they will go for improvisation and on-camera workshops that usually offer strong and substantial training for the different types of auditions your kid might be subjected to.

7. Be healthy at all times.

In allowing your kid to go after their dreams, you also need to make sure that they take care of themselves and their health. You should guide them on the ways to handle stress and to ensure that they know how to apply good humor, common sense, patience and self care. Without proper guidance and planning, it is likely that your kid will cave in to stress or to the rigors of auditioning in the big cities.

8. Find other opportunities.

Such projects as films, episodic television shows, commercials, theater productions and voice-over work are usually cast the whole year round as well as during pilot season. So, while your child is trying to land a role in a pilot, it is best if you will also search for this type of opportunities as well. Aside from providing substantial compensation and exposure, it also presents invaluable experience.

9. Passing up on pilot season once or twice is okay.

Going to auditions during pilot season can be a great learning experience for your child. However, it also requires commitment and extremely hard work. So, although it is best for your kid to follow-through every callback and every commitment made, when you think it is best if you pass it up, then do. There are really times when your child is better off going to the beach or to the zoo or to Disneyland, than attending seemingly endless casting calls.

You can prevent your kid from getting too exhausted or burned out by making sure that you schedule some downtime along with their auditions. As a parent, you need to give this as much attention as following through every opportunity for an acting job. Your child and their health are definitely more valuable than any work opportunity.

So, if you want your kid to be prepared for pilot season, it is best that you get ready for it as early as possible. Your child actor will have better chances at success during the season if you will care to follow everything mentioned above.



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