If you're here and reading this, you're likely in the industry and have heard of 'Pilot Season'. Pilot Season is the time of the year where pilots that have been given the go-ahead are cast and actors either run around to a bazillion reads or are stuck at home wondering why they aren't being called in. We want to share our personal experience with casting, demo reels, and...
...we want to talk about the overlooked stepsister of pilot season; 'Guest Star Season'.
And we're gonna do this Q and A style, y'all.
Q: In what ways can actors with smaller resumes benefit from Guest Star Season?
A: The amount of Guest Star and Co-Star roles that become available to actors during this season is a significantly larger amount than during pilot season. Casting directors start the casting process for every episode that is ordered for the numerous new TV shows, as well as, all of the current existing shows that are being brought back for another season.
All of the pilots that are picked up and the returning shows have cast the names needed to drive audiences to the show. This leaves room for casting directors to bring in a variety of unknown actors for the smaller parts being cast. It’s a great opportunity for actors to get into casting offices they’ve never had the opportunity to be in before.
Q: When an actor is being pitched for a role, how beneficial is it for them to have a reel?
A: In our experiences with casting (interning for extremely prominent casting directors, management companies and casting our own projects) it begins and ends with an actor’s reel - especially if the actor is unknown.
During casting, there are limited audition spots available to actors. However, during interning, I found most casting directors were willing to bring in a few unknown actors, even if they don’t have a lick of work on their resume besides theater credits from back home in Oklahoma. The casting director would let her associates, assistants, and interns go through actors profiles and pitch actors to her that they thought were fit for the roles she was casting. After very quickly glancing at the actor’s headshot, she would beeline for the actors reel. It was the actor’s brief opportunity to show the casting director what they're made of. A reel is the actor's single most important business card. It’s the one that holds the most legitimacy when casting directors are looking for new talent.
The experience interning at management companies was very similar. If an actor was unknown, It was all about the reel. We would get daily email submissions from actors and the interns would go through their materials and decide if they were worth pitching to the managers, who in turn would decide if they wanted to bring them in for a meeting or not. If the actor didn't have a reel - we weren't allowed to pitch them. We knew if the actor had a pitch-able reel and when they didn’t. We understood the taste of the managers on the team, but the common denominator with all of them was they were on the lookout for professional footage, even if it wasn't from a TV show or Film. The greener actor's reel would need to blend in with the reels of the consistently working actors.
In our experience casting our own projects, we look at every reel that is submitted and we typically don’t call in actors who don’t have reels due to limited time slots. It's difficult to know what an actors vibe or style is without seeing them actually act. Headshots are great, but they only provide us with a look. Reels provide us with someones essence and a slight peek at their capabilities as an actor.
Q: If an actor doesn’t have any footage from a movie or TV show to put in their reel, what type of footage should they acquire to have a pitch-able reel?
A: Demo reel footage should resemble the style of a movie or TV show that the actor feels they could be cast in. The scene and character should be crafted to fit the actor, not vice versa. If the footage looks professional, the viewer will be less distracted and more inclined to focus on the actor in the scene rather then potential issues with sound or lighting.
Q: If an actor is gearing up for guest star season what are some things they can focus on to prepare themselves? What tools/skills can they start cultivating?
A: An actor should make sure their headshots are something they like, rather than something their representative pushed for or the one their mom thought looked best. We’re not saying advice is bad, we’re simply saying, they are your headshots. At the end of the day, you are the product that you are selling...and you might as well enjoy looking at your own face!
An actor should have a reel edited together with footage from previous projects that they’ve done, or from scenes that have been crafted and created for them resembling footage from shows that are currently casting that they know they could be on.
Actors can find out what new shows are picked up, what old shows are returning and what casting directors are casting those shows. You may be able to look them up online and see if they have any interviews or a personal website that gives actors an idea of what their tastes are or any advice they have for actors that could be beneficial.
Acting and actors have always had a special place in our hearts.
These special people work tirelessly to study humanity, craft emotional moments and bravely bare their souls to an audience; wether that be from stage to an audience of thousands or in front of the intimate audience of Director, Cinematographer and key crew.
Actors bring visions to life.
Actors are the reason we dress up as iconic film characters on halloween. When we have hard times in life, we often turn to those same characters to give us hope. We revisit our favorite films or buy a ticket to a show so we can feel something. We want to feel what they feel in that moment. Actors generously reach out their hand and lead us on a journey and promise to walk alongside us.
Actors heal us.
Living in Los Angeles for almost a decade has put many actors in our paths. We have seen people soar to fame, fall from it, and some turn back or choose a calmer path. All these things are part of each person's journey -- but so many actors feel discouraged. So many give up moments before their dreams could have been realized.
We have become extremely passionate about helping actors fill their toolbox with the things they need to succeed. Over the years our friends, acquaintances and we ourselves have worked tirelessly in acting classes, driven hours in shitty 405 traffic for a fifteen second audition, and time and time again faced disappointments.
All that hard work is beautiful. All that hard work is helping every actor become who they are meant to be.
So why are so many great actors overlooked? We have interned for managers and casting directors and have also cast numerous projects ourselves and have found some common answers to that question.
So we thought to ourselves -- how can we help our fellow actors be seen? How can we help them succeed? Well...Better, Cheaper, More Personalized Demo Reels. We realized how many actors overlook the importance of getting all their hard work on screen, and how many actors give away their power completely to agents, managers, casting directors, teachers...those who 'know better' than them.
Actors: Don't forget that you are the artist. You are the one who works your ass off day in and day out. Know yourself and be in your own corner -- and your team will follow suit.