Tis the season for actors of all ages and skill levels to flock to the land of promise, otherwise known as Hollywood. Yes, everyone it is PILOT SEASON. For those who are confused, this is the time of year when television studios are furiously writing and casting for perspective Fall season television pilots. Traditionally, the winter months have been focused solely on Pilot Season. However, with the addition of many more networks to cable television Pilot Season is truly a misnomer as casting can occur year round. But, for all intensive purposes, this blog will be dedicated to what it is like for a parent to help other parents of children who are struggling to become working actors.
Our family knew that our oldest, Natasha Sattler, would grow up to have one of two careers. An actor or a politician. Both her father and I are eternally grateful that she picked an actor, although she will gladly play a politician on the silver or small screen. There are many things that I have had to learn over the last ten years that Natasha has acted on a professional level. Here is the short list and applies to fellow “Pilot Season” parents:
1. If your child is a minor- say goodbye to your full-time job unless you live in Los Angeles. Minors are required to have a parent on the set and accompany them to auditions. If you don’t.. well that is cheating. It also is unsafe. These laws were made to help keep acting kids out of harms way and under the supervision of their guardians.
Also, say hello to apartment living with lots of other moms/dads unless you are lucky enough to beg favors from amazing relatives who loan out their guest room. (We were and they know who they are… )
2. Remember that your child has a 1 in a zillion chance for getting an audition in front of a major studio. And probably less than that for a call-back (second audition). This is not a career for the faint of heart or easily bruised. And for that statement I am talking about the parents and the kids. Natasha advises that you come armed with a good resume and an agent. Don’t just drop everything on a whim…
3. You will most likely lose money during pilot season. Consider Pilot Season like entering a casino. The odds are stacked against you. But, for those who hit the jackpot (scoring a television pilot or series) then the pay offs can be wonderful.
4. Be prepared to invest. Not only your time but your money. Headshots are costly. Reproducing headshots are costly. LA is not cheap. Gas is not free. Parking costs almost everywhere in LA. Loss of income can make the stay in LA a lot shorter. And Kleenex may need to be bought by the crate.
5- People are nice, but you are still the competition. It is funny, but LA can be really cold for being located in a warm climate during Pilot Season. The reason is that everyone is there is for one purpose- to get their dream role. And sometimes that means to forgo making friends in order to focus on the work. So, LA is not known as the warm and fuzzy capital of the world. Although I find the people very nice, many others tell me differently.
6- Don’t oogle. Recently, I met Debi Mazur in Target in LA. She was standing behind me and we just started chatting as two moms shopping for their daughters might. Not once did I acknowledge that I was a fan of hers and the show Entourage. Not once did she “name drop”. We were two moms and I think she really appreciated that we could converse about cute jackets and not “the business”.
7. And when your child does get a role give yourself a pat on the back but remember this was earned by YOUR CHILD and not you. I always remember the line from FAME when a mom becomes so excited that her daughter received admission to the school for the performing arts and exclaims, ” WE ” made it. Yes, you all made it, but only one gets to be in front of the camera and earn the credit on the resume.
8. And lastly, enjoy it while you can for what it truly is. Pilot Season is a race. Before you know it.. your child will have crossed the finish line. Some will win, place or score a show. Most will go home.
Thanks for reading and meet Natasha Sattler…. working actor who is busy auditioning this week for Pilot Season!