Monday, June 15, 2009

Tips for Clients Casting for Models

I know that my blog gets visited regularly by models, both new and established, but there have been others in the industry that at one time or another have come across Modeling 101--photographers, stylists, randomly curious people, etc. So I figured that maybe, just maybe, there are those that may find themselves in need of models for various projects. Now, I can't cure all the ills in the world relating to the modeling industry but maybe by making this post I can positively influence clients into taking the time to post worthwhile castings for models. Goodness knows I've come across so many wrong ones that I felt it may be helpful to future clients out there if they had some helpful tips to assist them in this often intimidating process...

1) Think out your casting call carefully. There is nothing wrong with writing a draft version of your casting. Make sure you know what you want and that you are properly communicating that in your post. Regardless of whether you use Craigslist or an online modeling community site (Model Mayhem, One Model Place, etc.), the more detail, the better. But don't write a novel. Chances are most won't get through it entirely and important information may be overlooked or discarded. Additionally, pay attention to grammar and spelling. There should be no excuse for misspelled words, typos, and badly constructed sentences. It shows unprofessionalism and makes you as a client look sloppy and careless.

2) Know what you want! There are models of all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors out there. One of the quickest ways to encountering a casting nightmare is to make your post too broad. Too many times I've seen posts that go something like this:

Female models needed. 21+. Please send pictures.

Ummm...this posting, while short and sweet, could mean anything. Chances are you'll end up with tons of email replies from models with looks you don't want. Save yourself time--as well as those seeking work--by including basic information.

3) Post wisely on Craigslist. We all know there are good and bad points about finding work and posting for work on Craigslist. When it comes to modeling in particular, models are going to exercise caution (the smart ones, anyway). Make sure your post doesn't make you come across as suspicious, vague, or mysterious. We shouldn't have to figure out who you are. Lend credibility to your company by actually putting the name of your company/projet or throw in a website link (make sure it is correct and actually links to the right site!). If you are working with a photographer or are a photographer, include a link to that person's portfolio of work. Even if a model is in need of work, he/she will want to work with someone who does good quality photography and will produce images that will benefit their own modeling portfolio.

4) Don't include your ego or lame promises in your post (they don't impress us). One of the main peeves I have with searching through model castings online is when I come across castings that promise tons of exposure, instant celebrity status, or some other claim to fame (I kid you not, I've come across such crap). It is an insult to one's intelligence. What makes it worse is that 99.9% of the time, such posts come from a client with a company or website that no one has ever heard of. Not to burst anyone's bubble but in reality, chances are having a few models on your site isn't going to make everyone involved a star overnight. It just doesn't happen. Start-ups and individuals with stars in their eyes often suffer from dillusions of grandeur. Play it smart and think objectively. Models appreciate the truth and not fluff. It will work out better in your favor if you say outright in your post that your company/website/project is starting off small but hopes to gain more interest over time instead of coming out proclaiming that working for so-and-so will make you a household name. Also avoid name-dropping. It is so unnecessary in castings. If your work speaks for itself, then you shouldn't have to say anything. And PLEASE do not make your casting sound like you as the client are doing the models a huge favor by offering them an opportunity--especially if it sucks. No offense but those castings are the worst, not to mention very condescending. Professional respect is a two-way street.

(***I'm not a household name--yet--but I have a lot of experience under my belt and my resume is fairly extensive so please don't think it's an ego thing when I make this point. There are plenty of models in the same professional category as I am that are demanding proper treatment and conditions from clients that want to work with us. This is a business first and foremost so don't take it personally if you find models that only want to deal with established and credible companies that will further their careers. No model wants to remain at the start-up level forever. Successful careers are about progession not complacency or regression.***)

5) Think carefully about compensation. The economy is tough--we all know it and we're all being affected. But please don't think it's fair to use that as an excuse to justify not paying models for certain projects. It's just wrong. It adds insult to injury when a client will post that they're working on a huge product with a budget but the only one not getting paid are the models. Hmmm...if you've got a budget, admit that you're paying everyone else that's working on the project, but you can't or won't pay your models, chances are you won't find anyone willing to help you out. State right away what your compensation will be. Are you offering good pay? Great pay? Little pay? No pay? Be specific. Also be sure to list what the model will get in return. Will he/she get a few copies of the images? A CD with all the images? Tearsheets? Specify whether your models will get both pay and images or if they'll have to choose between one or the other. And if you are offering a CD of images but no pay, then please make that model or models a priority when it comes to delivering what you promised. Nothing is worse than working on a project with the hopes of getting copies and then never hearing from the client again. Be fair, be honest, and be realistic. Don't dress anything up. If you have no budget at all to pay models then you may want to request new or inexperienced models. They need the experience and you won't have to worry about the grumblings of an experienced model who is expecting more than you can offer.

6) Use common sense. If you need models for sexy swimwear, lingerie or glamour modeling, then you'll need to look for models that are 18 years of age or older--no exceptions, this is the law! It makes my stomach hurt when I see castings requesting models as young as 16 to do swimwear and wear "playful, cute, sexy outfits"...yes, I've seen castings use this type of wording before! Ick. If you need underage models for age appropriate stuff, then you must list in your post that a parent or guardian must be present at all times. The parent/guardian is the person you must speak with when communicating, setting up interviews, discussing shoot dates, etc. It is never appropriate to only discuss this with the underage model(s).

7) When writing your post, make sure it answers the following questions:

a) What is the project for? (catalog, runway show, portfolio building shoot, etc)

b) Are you looking for male or female models or both?

d) What level of modeling expertise do you need? (Professional, semi-professional, experienced, no experience)

e) What is the name of your company or the photographer working on the project? (Include links where needed)

f) What is the best way for models to submit to your castings? (be as detailed as possible when giving instructions for submitting)

g) What is the date/time/location of the shoot?

h) Will there be a hair, makeup, wardrobe person on set or will the model be responsible for being camera ready on their own?

i) Are you hiring models based on photo submissions or will there be an interview?

j) Do you have any specific requirements? (Hair color, ethnicity, physical appearance, height, size, etc)

k) What age range are you looking for? (***Please note that many models do not look like their numercial age so it helps to instead list what age range you'd like your models to look like. For example, instead of asking for models between the ages of 18-22, ask for models that either are in this age range or physically look like they are within that age range. This will prevent you from alienating models that may fit your project but are older or younger than your stated age range. I am 26-years-old but look much younger so it's frustrating when clients only stick to the numerical representation of age instead of the appearance of a certain age. I recently got asked if I was a teen model so heck yes I'm going to apply for projects seeking younger looking models!***)

This can seem very overwhelming and maybe even confusing but by implementing these tips you'll not only be able to find the right model(s) for your needs, you'll also simplify the process for yourself. Remember, you're the one that has to go through all the submissions you receive so if you do things right the first time, you'll be able to pick that lucky model and put out a great project.

(If you happen to be a client in need of models but aren't sure how to go about it and/or need some guidance on working with them, shoot me an I'd be more than happy to offer some consultation to help you figure out the best course for finding models for your projects as well as what to expect.)

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