By: Jess Canty
In this industry I have learned a lot of things – but one of them is to try to avoid making declarative statements because things can change in this industry in a heartbeat.
Disclaimer disclaimed – I am going to say that it feels like 2021 is finally pulling out of the station. Finally getting its feet wet. Finally peeking its head around the corner. Finally… ok you get the point. I figured I would try to get all the metaphors out at the top so as to avoid mixing them later.
Bottom line: I have received the same number of pilot scripts in the last week than I have since the beginning of the year.
So… what does this mean? Here are my best educated guesses:
If we are finally getting pilot scripts now (when these are normally coming in between November and December) that would put “pilot season” happening between February and April – as opposed to January – March.
The HUGE caveat to this is that there are a number of pilots which were at the end of their casting cycles in March of 2020 that are now finally being produced. So “pilot season” is still going to look a lot different this year than it has in the past.
Some positives of this may be the following:
Networks may produce less pilots that they don’t plan on actually making. This belt-tightening may mean less pilots all-around but ultimately a better life for actors. There is little worse (in my estimation) than for an actor to book their biggest role to date – to be marched to the top of the mountain of success – only to get the news that the network has abandoned the show because the “pilot didn’t work.” It is a lot of emotional roller-coasterness for artists that could be avoided - in my completely non-professional opinion (I say non-professional because have I ever programmed a TV network?)
“Pilot Season” we may find will truly shift to being year-round. Between every major media company finally jumping into the stream and network relevance (just look at the stats from the Emmys) continuing to spiral downward all of these “new” players (Disney+, HBO Max, Apple+, Peacock Max) are going to find themselves desperately trying to keep up with Netflix – and by extension Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes. Beyond that in order to keep people shelling out their $X.99/month they need new shows.
2020 was an incredibly tough year for my comrades in the 10% business. Speaking of the 10% business – I urge you all to watch Call My Agent on Netflix. It is a fantastic look at the inside of a successful boutique agency. What strikes me about the show above all else is that it is set in France and yet the industry seems to be pretty much exactly the same there as it is here – except with better scarves. Which says something about the nature of merging art and commerce at the highest levels.
Beyond that, the show is a great look at what the politics within an agency, which I think as an actor it is incredibly important to understand. I think sometimes we forget that agencies are made up of passionate people competing for talent and resources all while trying to make a living.
Which is something to consider as in the before times “just ahead of pilot season” was a great time to find your first agent or find a new agent. However, 2020 changed all of that.
Every single agent I have spoken to since December I think feels deep-down like they want 2021 to be a big do-over when it comes to their client rosters. I know I certainly feel that way. There are a number of you who joined us in late 2019 or even the beginning of 2020 and/or who had been with us building in 2019 and when we set our goals for 2020 we were planning on some great big strides.
And because of the shut down all of those goals have been delayed. I know for myself I want to be in a space where I am available to you and trying my very best to make those goals happen THIS year – especially as we (fingers crossed) continue toward a further re-opening of the business.
The other thing to remember is that the pandemic has hit a lot of these boutique agencies very hard. In one of the panels I participated in this weekend on Clubhouse (see below) a very reputable agent spoke about how she had to let go of the other two agents at her company and then drop a large percentage of her roster because she couldn’t cover everyone alone.
I mention this only so that for those of you who are anxious to move agencies, I think we need to proceed with extreme caution. For the time being let’s try to get as much out of your current agent as possible. But TALK TO US about where you are / how you are feeling. That is what we’re here for.
For those of you who our plan was to get you agented up last year – please know that this is absolutely a priority. But again, it is probably going to take longer than I would have hoped back in December. So just a little patience.
We sent out an email about this, but I would like to say that for those of you on iPhones I strongly encourage you to join us on this platform. Not only are we going to be finding opportunities to connect with Team Cinterra privately, but I want to come up with some creative ways for us to use it as a performance platform so that you all can show off your chops!