How Actors Can Have The Best Pilot Season Ever Without Representation, Part 2

Are you at your Olympic-best and not competing for every role you’re right for this pilot season? Don’t do what every actor does: Don’t blame your reps for not being good enough, and don’t blame your lack of auditions on not having reps at all. 

In my previous article, How Actors Can Have the Best Pilot Season Ever Without Representation, I addressed the false belief that actors need representation to compete for major film and TV roles during pilot season. Having representation is not a guarantee you’ll be going out for every role you’re right for. The bottom line is centered on accountability: In order to have the best possible pilot season, you have to be responsible for it. If you’re not going out for every part you’re suitable for, you need to examine your own actions and choices, and determine how those factors are contributing to a lighter audition load.

The Olympic Level of the Game
If you want the life of an actor who is competing at the professional level and is going out on 30 to 40 auditions per year, you must consistently be acting at your highest level of excellence—what I refer to as the Olympic level. 

That means you’ve dedicated yourself to years of studying your craft. You’ve read all the great books on acting such as the ones written by David Mamet, Michael Chekhov, Uta Hagen, and Constantin Stanislavsky, as your responsibility as a professional. You make it a priority to watch nearly every newly released film. You are up to date on all the major television shows. You’ve made a commitment to watch one old movie a week, in order to better understand the roots of the film industry. You go to the theater regularly as your duty to support the community and to observe theater actors at work. Create a short list offilm or TV projects you feel your personality is best suited to.

It always amazes me to see actors wanting to start auditioning for major feature film and TV roles after only a few months of study as an actor. It’s like one day deciding you absolutely love the tuba, and, after a few months of lessons you decide it’s time to audition for the director of the L.A. Philharmonic. This is a ludicrous idea, but helps to illustrate the point of how absurd and hazardous it can be to try to attempt to audition for major roles before you’re ready. It’s a small industry—it’s easy to see the majority of major casting directors in any given year. If you were pitched for a role you simply weren’t right for OR you weren’t at your absolute best when you went into the casting room, the doors to those offices may close and never open again.

Building and Maintaining Relationships
Because the industry is so small, people tend to favor the people they know and like. Thus, you need to figure out a way to become one of the actors that people in power know and like. This revolves around building and maintaining industry relationships: casting directors, directors, producers, writers, etc. Another effective way to meet those people is at industry events: Going to events such as forums, screenings, and Q&As are going to put you in close proximity with such people. Be friendly and bold: Bring business cards, a smile, and start shaking hands. The SAG-AFTRA Conservatory offers workshops with casting directors, directors, producers, and other industry leaders. When it comes to casting directors, it’s vital you specifically target the ones whose projects are ideal for your personality and acting strengths.

Create an “Accountability Group” of Your Peers
For a profession which relies so heavily on human relationships both creatively and on the business side of things, acting can feel pretty lonely at times—after all, it is just you in the audition room. Creating an actor “accountability group” can make you feel like you have a team behind you and supporting you—it can give you a much needed boost of morale. 

An actor “accountability group" is a group of your peers who meet regularly to hold each other accountable for being proactive in their careers, read scenes, work on auditions, trade industry tips, etc… This makes you feel like your actions (or lack of actions) have someone to answer to, which is good. Such a group can also help you with troubleshooting and brainstorming, which can be helpful if you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall in certain respects with your career.

Wolves survive because they hunt in packs; actors can also benefit from that pack mentality of helping one another survive and thrive. 

Seek Out A Mentor
One of my very talented clients proposed the idea of seeking out an industry mentor...someone working at the top of their game like a major producer, director, celebrity actor, etc. I think it’s an incredible idea as it encourages an actor to bravely pick up a telephone and pitch themselves to an industry professional. And if such a pitch is successful, the mentorship could be life-changing. This successful professional could help show you the ropes and insider secrets that you may have had no idea even existed. This is a person who could truly help open doors for you and help you to build some pretty crucial relationships with others. 

This article was originally posted on Backstage