Model Portfolio Case


  A Model Search Experiance
  There are hundreds of model searches and conventions taking place every year. Some are conducted by large modeling agencies like Wilhelmia, Ellite or Ford, some by fashion magazines and others are local (my local newspaper, The Oregonian, conducted one here in Portland, OR last month). A whole industry has sprung up around nationally run model searches and conventions. I have seen weekend searches and conventions charge attendees from $325 to as much as $4000. When laying out that kind of money, with the promise of being discovered and becoming a super model, the question arises are these convention and searches a way to get a career started or are they a rip off? The following are the experiences of one individual who was kind enough to take the time to email me her experiences with one of the model searches.


Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it. Here is what I have to say about Model Search America:

I heard on the radio that Model Search America (MSA) was having open calls in my city, so I decided to go to one of them. My boyfriend went with me for moral support. The open call was held at a hotel and we were given forms to fill out when we got there. We realized right away that the forms are for marketing purposes mainly because it asked questions like "Where is your favorite place to shop for clothes." The room was full of aspiring models of all ages. We all sat and watched a video clip during our wait for David Mogul to enter the room. David Mogul is a former Ford model and the president of Model Search America. The clip showed us success stories of people who took advantage of MSA.

  When David walked in, he told us to line up with our forms. We then stood in a line as we listened to loud runway music and watched to people in front of us be evaluated by David Mogul and his employees who are scouts for MSA. When it was my turn, I walked up to him and handed him my form. He asked me to smile, so I did. Then he asked if I had modeled before. Then he told me to have a seat. He barely looked at anyone, yet made a quick judgment on whether or not we were model material. After telling those he did not want to please leave, we were left with a room full of about 15 people. He had chosen us to go to the regional Model Search America convention in New Orleans. He told us how if we knocked on doors in New York or L.A. , it would cost us thousands of dollars. He said paying for a portfolio and going to modeling schools are rip offs and that MSA would give us the chance to model without all the expenses of getting there. He said that reputable agencies will not make you pay for photo shoots or training. He went through a whole sales pitch of how much cheaper and more productive MSA is than knocking on doors. He told us that he only works with the most reputable agencies from around the world and this would be our chance to have a moment in front of all of them. He told us the only fee we would have to pay is $395 to register for the convention and we had only ten days to register. David Mogul chose both my boyfriend and myself to go to this convention.
We went home and did our research on MSA and could not find any major things wrong with the convention. We read complaints on message boards, but saw just as many complaints as satisfactoriness. So, my boyfriend and I each decided to scrape up the $400 a piece for the convention fee(which had to be paid in cash or money order), charge $230 a piece on our credit cards to pay for hotel expenses and buy a $120 plane ticket each to get to this event. I didn't even mention the cost of food and rolls of 35 mm film and development. David Mogul told us we did not need professional photos, but we would need to bring a variety of pictures to the event to show agents. David Mogul made it seem like we were definitely going to be represented by an agency if we get call backs. He didn't lie to us, but he did NOT tell us what we would later learn at the convention.  
  The convention started on Saturday and ended Sunday evening. Saturday was full of guest speakers the first part of the day. They sold make-up and model search America memorabilia outside the hotel ballroom. There was a session for us to quickly have a MSA staff person flip through our pictures and pick two that we would show the agencies. We could also stand in extremely long lines in order to get a quick tip from a hair-stylist or make-up artist. VH1 Host, Roshumba was there selling her book called modeling for dummies or something like that. The second part of the day, we learn how to walk on a runway. Two supermodels were there and showed us the walk and we got the chance to practice.
Sunday would be the big day to be seen by all the agencies. In the morning, we had the chance to be very quickly introduced to the representatives from each agency. They were on the stage and just told who they were and what they were looking for. Big agencies were there such as Elite, ID, Page Parkes, Next, Ikon, JAM, Wilhelmina, Click, L.A. Models, Neal Hamil and more. Then the runway show started. They played loud runway music as an announcer called off each person's name and number as he/she walked the runway. There were about 3 people on the runway at the same time. Everything moved really fast. I walked the runway and had my moment in the spotlight. After the runway show, we lined up again to walk quickly by the panel of agents and show them our pictures (we never stopped to talk). Then it was time for callbacks. Here came the major moment of truth. I received three callbacks and my boyfriend had none. Then, David Mogul announced, "Just because you got a callback, it does not mean a thing. It does not mean that you now have an agent." That was never explained to us until that moment. So, the next step was to go meet the agents who called me back. Each one just took a picture of me and told me to call them in a few weeks if they did not call me.  
  So, that was it. The convention was over. I waited two weeks and called the agent I was most interested in. He told me I was one of the 16 girls they chose to represent out of the 60 girls they called back at the convention. He also wanted me to fly to New Orleans as soon as possible to do a photo shoot. I would have to pay for my plane ticket ($120), pay for the shoot ($375), pay for the prints ($15 each) and pay for my composite cards ($125 for a box of 50). The whole purpose of going to Model Search America was because David Mogul said the agencies that attend his event are only the reputable ones that will not charge you money. I would only make money. Ha! He never informed us that some of the agencies at his event would make us still pay. I learned the hard way that I can knock on doors and spend either the same amount of money I've spent on model search America or less and find an interested agency in the process that will have enough money to not charge me for materials and such.

 David Mogul is a very smart man with a very strong marketing background or source (or common sense for that matter.) He sells a dream and makes you feel like your getting a deal when you are really just getting a good lesson about the business. Now some people (Very, Very few) may be happy with the outcome, but it doesn't mean they couldn't have reached that outcome with out Model Search America. There were about 1,000 people in that ballroomand I watched the majority of all those aspiring models walk out without a single callback. Now I feel empty handed (probably just like they felt) and If you conducted a poll of the number of callbacks that got what they wanted from this, I'm more than sure you'd learn that I'm not the only one that feels this way. My advice to other aspiring models or actresses(actors) is to knock on doors in your area first.

Thank you for having me share my experience with you.


  I have now heard from several other wannbes who have confirmed this information. So this is not an isolated incident.


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