Pilot season
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Is booking a client a job worth breaking my New Year’s resolution?

by Perry Zimel

December 31, 2013. Happy New Year! This year my New Years’s resolutions are to spend more time with my family and friends, eat better, work out more and not rush to work at 7:30am.

January 1, 2014. Working out. Spending time with family.

January 2. Same.

January 3 and 4. Same. I must be on a roll.

January 7th 2014, 7am. In the car on the way to work. How can I live up to my New Year’s resolutions when pilot season is happening? Pilot season, the time of year when every actor thinks all of his or her wishes will be answered. Pilot season … when every agent, manager and lawyer think their worth is in how many pilots they have booked.

The time of year that agents and managers start to meticulously comb through their rosters and think about who has a greater shot of booking a pilot; therefore choosing those they will push, and those they won’t. There will always be the dark horse but usually those that have a better shot get the most attention during this time. I don’t think it is a personal slight against anyone, but rather simple arithmetic: dollars and cents.

This also leaves open the conversation within the agency/firm of whom to drop if they don’t book a pilot. Because, you see, this time of year, more then any other time of year, it is not about talent. It is about booking! Some of the most talented actors don’t book pilots because they just don’t fit into the equation of what the producer/network is looking for.

I have one client who went out on almost every pilot available and didn’t test for one. However, he did book three feature films. His agent and I believe that he is an actor who ‘works’ better in features than on television, so we are pushing in that direction.

If pilot season is like throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks… why decide what kind of pasta to throw? Why not throw the whole kit and kaboodle? Why during a season when everyone is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, breaking all their New Year’s resolutions, do we make it so difficult? Why not see everyone?

Casting directors are creative so if you can convince them why your client can be right, they will see them.

As a manager, you are a seller, not a buyer. You think you know what the person wants, but the truth is you don’t. You can’t because they don’t, until they see it. Therefore your job is to give a reason why your client could possibly be the best choice possible, and stand by it.

Your client gets called in and receives good feedback. Casting calls to say they want to put a ‘pin’ in your client. A pin? Like a voodoo doll? A pin meaning I have to call you with any and all interest? Show business changes a person’s career in one phone call. You can pin your client in one call and in the next call get a test offer that has to be negotiated and signed by end of day. Do you really have the time to call back the people who put a pin in your client? If you are lucky enough and have more then one pin in the same client … do you even remember?

Your client is pinned. Now what? Call everyone who can possibly change that pin to a test or an offer. Shaping, moving, creating. When people don’t think that agents and managers are creative individuals, they should watch a day in anyone’s office during pilot season. It is Einstein at work: “E = mc2.” “E” (representative) = “mc2” (contacts, connections, pushing, shaping, pleading, begging).

You get the test or you get the offer or you get a ‘sorry they did love your client in the room, but they have seen someone they like more.’ You are no more responsible for your client not getting a job than you are for them getting a job. You do your work as best you can and then luck comes into play. The dreaded four letter word in the entertainment industry that people don’t like to use: L-U-C-K. It is a huge factor as to why people get jobs. Right place, right look, right talent, right time, right right right.

They want to test your client. You close the deal. Test is successful. Congratulations! Good job.

This is truly where one needs to find a balance between No attraction, no aversion. You need to go through the process of pilot season and not be attached to the outcome, as you have no control over it. The only thing you can control is your attitude towards the process.

Pema Chodron says in her book When Things Fall Apart: “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”

I choose to go through pilot season with an open heart and enjoyment of what comes out of it.

Perry Zimel

About Perry Zimel

Perry Zimel, a Toronto based manager is an anomaly in the entertainment business. A full-service talent & literary manager who works through lunch & speaks the painful truths up front. Follow me on TWITTER! @perryzimelmgr

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