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What is a TV Pilot?

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What is a TV Pilot? Empty What is a TV Pilot?

Post by silly girl Thu 24 May 2012, 15:59

Found this recent article...might help us understand why SK pilot could still be on (although it is geared toward kids I think the info should still apply):

The Real Truth About Pilot Season
January 29th, 2012

A cottage industry has developed in Los Angeles in the last 10 years or so, an industry that exists to serve something called pilot season. But in the last three years, pilot season has changed drastically. So what’s the real skinny? Is it real? Is it worth it? We’re here to tell you the cold hard truth. But before we begin, a couple of disclaimers:
■This information is likely to be different than the advice you are getting from your hometown agent/manager/teacher/fellow parents. Like all information you get on the internet, we encourage you to scrutinize and weigh the source carefully. Keep in mind that people back home may have ulterior motives. It may be money, or it may be just as simple as saving face in regard to their own pilot season experience. In contrast, we have nothing to lose by being honest with you, but we also have no specific knowledge of your personal situation.
■There is an exception to every rule. Yes, it happens that lightening strikes and a kid comes to pilot season without an agent and gets “discovered”. Hollywood is crazy that way. BUT we say what we do because we are aiming this advice toward MOST people who are considering a pilot season trip. Not the day lightening strikes (that would happen without our advice).
■Please read the whole article. It will start out a tad scary, and more than a little negative. Please know that we DO believe in supporting kids dreams. We are not against people coming to Los Angeles for pilot season! We just want them to have the greatest chance of success. So please continue on to the end of the article, where we offer you some tips for success if you decide to brave the odds.


What is pilot season?
Traditional pilot season is the period of time between January and April (give or take) when the studios create samples of new shows. A pilot is one episode of a show that is ordered by the network as a test. They will cast it, produce it, test it with audiences and studio executives and decide whether to pick it up as a regular series. That series will be shown in the fall. Casting for the test episodes used to be done in a frenzy during pilot season. You can read more here:
A “series regular” is a full-time job where the actor is expected to be in most of the episodes. There are lesser roles in pilots too, but they are “day players” or ”co-stars” where you are paid for one day’s work.

Why during spring?

Pilot season used to exist on this timeline because it was built around advertising schedules. A little Hollywood Television 101: television shows only exist to draw advertisers. Those commercials you see between shows are the bread and butter of the entertainment industry. Each show is competing for the advertiser’s money. Advertisers buy time on each show and that is what keeps the show (and the network) afloat.
Traditionally, the networks hold an event in New York in May called the upfronts. Upfronts are basically big parties where each network announces their fall lineup on primetime and gives the advertisers (the party guests) a taste of the new shows, hoping to get them to buy ad time in the fall. The pilot season schedule is built around the deadline of upfronts in mid-May. Traditionally, pilot season is planned to conceive, cast, produce the test episode (pilot), and make program decisions by May.

Why do you keep saying “traditionally” and “used to be”? Does pilot season really exist any more?

We say “traditionally” because pilot season has changed. Here’s why: Pay cable channels (ie. Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO, Showtime, etc) were never really on the traditional pilot season schedule since they aren’t dependent on advertising. They now produce the lion’s share of new shows. Fox, a network, announced in 2005 that they have moved to a year round pilot schedule. The other networks have moved increasingly toward using mid-season replacements, which are new series that are put into the TV schedule in January, when their first team of series fails. These mid-season replacements are often on alternative schedules as well. See how the calendar is getting a little murky?
Add to that the events of the last five years. In 2007 and 2008, the Writer’s Guild was on strike against the producers. This meant no new scripts, which meant production was at a standstill. There was an early pilot season just before the strike, as producers stockpiled pilots and series in anticipation of the strikes. In 2008, SAG negotiated their theatrical contract with the producers, and the same thing happened–a defacto strike of sorts. By the 2009 “season”, about one third of the pilots were being cast in October – December. That continued for the last two years as well.

So the answer is that pilot season sure isn’t what it used to be. And it is surely going the way of the dinosaur. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad time to come to LA, but those investing significant time and money should know that it is no longer the be-all-end -all it once was.


How many pilots are made?

Traditionally, about 100 pilots are made each year, but the number varies each year. Here’s a look:
2007 — the number was approximately 140, including reality shows, talk shows and all of cable. Scripted shows were still about 100.

2009 – only 73 scripted pilots were produced. Only 20 made it to the fall schedule, and of those, only 5 shows had series regular roles for children.

2010 — the number of pilots inched up to 110 including all of cable. Almost all were under AFTRA (not SAG) contracts. Only 50 of those got picked up, and only 10 had series regular roles for children.

2011 – 132 pilots were produced, including all cable channels like Disney and Nickelodeon. 83 were done by the major 4 networks. Of the 132 total, 63 of them got picked up, but 6 were quickly cancelled. That’s 57 new shows left on TV as of January 2012. Of those, only 11 shows had series regular roles for children–including the new Disney and Nick shows.

That sounds like a lot, but remember: on cable shows, where most of the kids’ opportunties are, the money is far less. Additionally, keep in mind that a pilot is only a test. Most never see the light of your television screen. Even among those that get picked up, most don’t get to produce a whole season because they are cancelled. In the end, there were really only 11 shows that used kids.

Last edited by silly girl on Fri 25 May 2012, 03:10; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : addition)

silly girl
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Clooney I go!

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Join date : 2011-02-28

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