Archive for the ‘How to Prepare for a Casting’ Category

Inside IMG’s Model Prep Night: Be on Time, Eat

July 24th, 2014 modelrecruituk No comments

Last night, 27 teenage models gathered onto the palatial outdoor deck at the Park Avenue office of IMG Models. Fanned by a warm evening breeze and surrounded by trees strung with glowing Christmas lights, they joked and giggled as they dug into platters of sandwiches and wraps, plucking food off their plates with their long limbs like grasshoppers nibbling on leaves. Many of them came straight from go-sees and wore the standard uniform of baggy tank top, black pants, and high heels. They were there for IMG’s Model Prep 2012, a twice-yearly event hosted by the agency to prepare the girls for New York Fashion Week.

The speakers included a number of well-respected fashion industry folks, including casting director James Scully, creative director Nian Fish, and models Jessica Stam and Lonneke Engel. Each were there to explain to the girls — most of whom are first-timers on the New York runways — what to expect from the whirlwind of castings, tests, shoots, and runway shows that’s about to begin. Also on hand was psychotherapist Betsey Selman-Babinecz, who offered tips on coping with the stresses of Fashion Week (in a nutshell: call your friends and family at home a lot). Each attendee was also handed a booklet of contact information for resources like dermatologists, ob-gyns, counselors, grocery stores, and of course, places to shop.

IMG has offered this event for six years now, and, according to David Cunningham, the agency’s vice-president of development, it seems to be a big help. “It’s not the solution, but it’s a start,” he said. “Hopefully girls take a deep breath after this and put everything in perspective. They all need to know that they’ll be okay if they don’t book Calvin Klein.” The event is not mandatory, but IMG asks that all their first-timers come, and everyone unusually attends; the experienced model speakers are often a highlight. “It’s good that we have Jessica [Stam] and Lonneke [Engel] speaking, because they’ve both been through some hard times,” he said. “They’ve both seen the best of it, and they’ve both had times when they’ve been like, ‘Oh my God, nobody wants me.’”

The takeaway from all the speakers can be summed up in the following points:

1. Be on time.
2. Bring healthy food like fruit and nuts with you because otherwise you will starve or, even worse, cave and eat something unhealthy like — gasp! —  white bread.
3. Don’t take it personally when people say mean things about you to your face.
4. Don’t take it personally when people reject you.
5. Don’t take anything personally, really.
6. Again: be on time.

Nian Fish, who was tapped last year by Anna Wintour to head up the CFDA Health Initiative (on top of the creative consulting work she does for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Jil Sander, and other clients), spoke first. She didn’t mince words: “We use your beauty and your looks to sell things,” she said. “In the process, you may go through things that hurt your feelings.” While she was clear about the fun aspects of modeling — “You girls are will get to travel the world, and you’ll have a blast” — she was frank about the realities of the industry. “Start thinking about what you want to do after this. And start thinking about it now,” she advised.

Indeed, handling nasty, stressed-out people seemed to be a theme of the evening. “You’ll have things said to you that will seem unbelievable at the moment,” explained casting director James Scully. “Sometimes people don’t have your interests at heart when they’re trying to get a job done.” He reiterated the importance of not taking things personally, although he admitted that it’s impossible to remain unfazed sometimes. “You’re going to have some tough knocks,” he warned. He recommended calling your agent if you’re ever upset, and staying in touch with loved ones back home. Also, a tip: don’t wear ponytails, because when you go to castings you’ll have a ridge in your hair, which apparently irks stylists.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly when Jessica Stam, her hair still dyed black from a LOVE shoot, took the microphone and spent over 20 minutes — literally — expounding on the merits of being on time. It eventually became clear that lateness had been a problem for her in the past. One time, years ago, she was all dressed and lined up for the runway when, to James Scully’s horror, she disappeared. They had to hold up the entire show while they mounted a panicky search; she was eventually found in line at the Starbucks across the street. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said. Scully eventually forgave her, and now they exchange Starbucks gift cards at Christmas. “Still, don’t do that,” she warned. “I had to earn a lot of people’s trust back.”

After the lectures were over, goody bags were dispensed and the girls continued munching on snacks and sipping juice. Some smoked cigarettes and tried on each other’s shoes. Lula Osterdahl, a Swedish model who walked in the fall 2012 Prada show and was recently shot for Italian Vogue by Steven Meisel, said the evening had made her feel relieved — in her own accented words, “Like a stone fell out of my stomach.” It’s her first time at New York Fashion Week, and she admitted she’s anxious. “People tell me scary stories about Fashion Week, you know?” Nearby, Cunningham surveyed the scene and grinned. “It’s a bit like summer camp orientation, isn’t it?” he said. “I mean, they are kids. They’re here for three weeks. It’s a lot like camp.”

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Casting Models – Preparing for Castings and Working with Modelling Agencies

July 24th, 2014 modelrecruituk No comments

Casting Models – Part One


One of the things that I found interesting about my job is the sheer number of people I have met over the years. Especially when I lived and worked in larger markets like Paris and Milan. The high turn over of people that come into these markets when a new fashion season begins is incredible. I have met hundreds of clients, designers, fashion editors, photo editors, art buyers, art directors, hair stylists, make-up artists, stylist, model agents and assistants. Plus many others directly as well as indirectly related to the business, but that is a meager pittance compared to the thousands upon thousands of models I have met during castings I have held. With the number of models I have met in all the castings I had over the years, I have learned a few things that has made my life easier when it comes to casting the right model for the job. In this article I will go though the different steps of casting models for your production. This is going to be quite a long article so I am going to break it down into three different posting.

Relationships with modelling agencies

If you are a experienced photographer then you have your relationship with your preferred agencies already. So I will try and write this in a way that best helps someone with little or no experience working with modelling agencies. It is difficult to get the attention of a model agent unless they know you or know your work, or they know the client well. So if your job is a good one ( for example. editorial with a good magazine, or a good paying commercial client they know ) then you will get their attention and get better models to choose from. If not and your client is small, unknown, bad paying, or it is a low level magazine then you will have difficultly with getting their attention and if you do some how manage to get their attention you will not get to choose from a great selection of models. It is that simple, good and/or high paying job, then good selection and good models, low paying job or low level client, then poor choice of models and you may have to use a model with little or no experience at all. Which is not a bad thing if you are a competent photographer and are capable of working with rookie models, but if you feel like you need a more experienced model then you will need to get more money from your client. So the best advice I can give you is get to know the agents, test some of their models so they get to know you and your work, it will help a little but until you reach a higher level of work don’t expect to have a really great selection of models available to choose from.

Example of a professional model’s comp card.
Model: Paula Patrice at Ford Models NY

What to ask of the model agencies

You can ask the modelling agent you contact to send a package of set-cards to you, just call them and ask. Model comp cards or model set-cards are like large business cards for models with a head shot on the front and usually three or four different photos on the back with the model photographed in various situations, and with written details like height, eye colour, hair colour, dress size, and shoe size of the model, plus the model’s agency contact details. Tell the booker about the job you are doing then tell them when you are doing the job and what kind of model or models you are looking for so they can tailor the package for your job requirements. Tell them if you are only looking at in town models or both in-town and international models, and if it is both ask them to separate them so you you know who is in town and who you would have to fly in.

At the beginning of every season I always ask the agencies to send me packages of models that they know will be in town for the season and to write on the model’s set card the dates they will be in town, if they are not in for the full season. This saves me a lot of time when I am having the pre-production meeting with the client and/or stylist. I can show them the comp cards and get idea of what type of model or models I will need for the production. before I contact the model agencies for the actual casting call, thus streamlining the process.

Knowing as much as possible before the casting and actual production will save you major headaches later on.

Prepare yourself before a casting

Before you call a casting you should prepare yourself. You should have production date set for your shooting, or at least a ball park idea when you want to shoot. You should have a very good idea of what type of production you are doing. Is it a fashion shoot, beauty or cosmetic, cover shoot, catalogue, a commercial campaign of some kind?
You should have had at least one production meetings with client, and stylist, and have discussed the type of model or models you will need for the shoot. Bring model comp cards to the meetings to help in the choosing of the type of model or models that the client and you would would like for the production. You should know how long will you need to book the model for before you talk to the agent,  is it half a day booking, full day booking or more? Will the model need to travel or is it a local production?

Find out if there are there any special requirements or skills that the model will need for the shooting. Some examples could be,  she will need to be able to ride a horse well, or can she dance, or is she afraid of heights, or can she swim, the list goes on and on. You should know that many models may limit what they are willing to do on a shoot, like going topless or wearing fur, so ask the model agent if any of the models you are looking at have any restrictions that may affect your production. Find out what kind of budget the client has for the models and usage rights they will need. Ask if they want to only look at in-town models or if the budget allows for flying in a model for the job. Knowing as much as possible before the casting and actual production will save you major headaches later on.

Next in part two, I will discuss where to hold your castings, and what to look for when casting two or more models that will need to work together. Don’t forget to subscribe to our email updates or to the  RSS feed to get a update notice when we post the next article.

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How to Prepare for a Casting If You Want to Be a Fashion Model

June 22nd, 2011 modelrecruituk 1 comment

If you want to be a fashion model brace your self for lot of hard work and sacrifice, being a model is a dream job but it takes lot of character, discipline, courage and luck to actually be a fashion model. Let nobody fool you by telling you stories of walking around the aisle a little and making millions of dollars, the fashion industry is a hard and hostile environment that requires excellent surviving skills.

But before starting off if you want to be a model you must learn to present and introduce yourself, so be sure that you know the basics before sending your photos and/or going to your first interview in an agency. For starters do not put too much make up the agents prefer to see your natural look so if you do put make try and keep it very simple and discreet and try avoiding the usage of colors. You should also try and keep your clothing as simple as possible but try and make the best features of your figure stick out.

It is also important to be concentrated and have people’s skills if you want to be a model. You must remain focused and give clear answers during your first interview with a fashion agency as well as you should maintain a relaxed attitude as opposed to seeming desperate to get the job.

If you are going to an open casting you increase your chances to be a model but you must also consider the mentioned tips regardless of what kind of audition you are attending. Most likely you will be asked some basic questions, have a few sample pictures taken and will walk around a little, but if the agency calls you in for a second interview you will most probably have a real photo session and that is where your photogenic attitude will be a crucial factor deciding whether you can be a fashion model.

The photographers prefer to work with models that enjoy having their pictures taken and are relaxed and natural in front of the camera as well as they favor models that do some research before hand. Actually someone who wants to be a model should check his or Polaroid pictures of the first session and look if he or she can improve anything about the looks and/or posture and make suggestions to the photographer later on.

If you really want to be a fashion model follow those simple tips when going to your first interview or casting and you will get a chance to be a fashion model one day.

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