Around this time every year, "Pilot Season" happens. Pilot season refers to the time when a number of new television pilots are being filmed for consideration. Numerous actors fly out to LA at this time compete for all the new principal roles on various comedies and dramas. Here's some information to keep in mind when thinking about trying out pilot season.
Pilot season refers to one time of the year. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be preparing all throughout the year. Keep studying your craft but also take cold reading classes. Learn who is casting television shows currently on television. Follow the trade publications to learn who may be casting pilots and meet them. Send them your info. Put yourself on their mind.
With the amount of online resources, you'd be doing yourself an injustice not researching past experiences of other actors. There are plenty of personal and professional blogs discussing the chaos and frustration of the season. You can also take a trip or two out to LA specifically to research what this sort of pursuit will entail, both geographically and logistically. Get in touch with any friends you may have that moved out to LA; personal contacts will be the most forward with what they've experienced.
Make sure your representation knows that you are interested in auditioning for the pilots. If you aren't already in LA, ask your local representation for LA contacts so that you are not going out blind. If you don't have representation, it will be more difficult to receive auditions for these coveted roles. However, it is not impossible. Make sure any casting contacts you have are aware that you are interested and ready to audition.
Do you need new headshots? Get them before the season starts! Update your reel, website and any other materials you may have. Get feedback on all these things so that you have the best representation of yourself in all of them.
Because there are no prior episodes to study, you'll have to do other sorts of research regarding a role. Is there a director or producer attached that has or had another television show on the air? There is a good chance this show will have a similar tone. Read the material out loud with a friend, film it, get feedback. Perform is with a television coach as well. Try to get as close to what the audition experience will feel like. And make bold choices! Always make bold choices.
Pilot season is still the most concentrated time for new shows but it has thankfully spread out some to include casting throughout the year. There are mid-season replacements and internet spin-offs amongst other possibilities for television show casting. So if you don't get in now, keep up with those contacts and remind them you're still around. You never know what else they may be working on. And if you do get in, and your pilot doesn't get picked up, it's not the end of the world. Plenty of well-known actors today had pilots that weren't picked up or that were and never made it past episode five. As with any facet of this business, never be discouraged!