Model Search Experiance
The following is a string of posting to the Modeling Advice bullitin
board about model searches (the board went down first part of
2001). I kept this material and placed it here with the hope
that it would give the reader some more information on the model
searches. It does help to have a parents support when starting
One question that always pops up is on model searches and
convention. Are they a good way to get started in modeling or
are they a ripoff? If anyone has been to one I would love the
here about you experience and thoughts on them.
I'm a little late in replying to this one as I just found
your site today, but I have been to several of these searches
and conventions and will keep going! I love them. Coming from
small town USA, there is not a lot of great work locally and
I can't afford to keep making the trip to New York with my daughter
(she's the model) on whims. These conventions are not free, but
they are a whole lot less expensive than the trips and you get
exposure to over 20 and up to 40 top agencies like Elite, Ford,
Wilhelmina's, LA Talent, to name only a few. Also, once you've
been to one, you are invited back the next time they are in your
area at a very minimal cost. What I like best about them is the
wealth of information you get from them. Not only the model,
but the parents, who in many cases are the ones doing much of
the legwork (and cash work) for their busy teens. We've been
to ProScouts and to Model Search America and I can't say enough
good things about both of these organizations. And, of course,
the open call is always free, you only pay if you are chosen
from the thousands who show up for the open call. They seem to
be very selective, too, and not just trying to scam money from
anyone who walks in the door. I've taken my daughter and several
of her very pretty friends to the open calls and my daughter
was the only one ever chosen from this group. These scouts know
what look will sell at the time and that's what they choose.
Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions about
this or I will check the board.
Thanks for your comments on the model search. I am adding
more info on peoples experience at these events under the FAQ
section of the site. One young wannabe model sent me a detail
account of her experience. I would love to here more of your
experience at these events and be able to post it for others
to learn from. If you have time, I am sure we would all like
to here more.
Hi again Daniel and all,
I guess I really didn't go much into our personal experience
with these searches. Like I said, the information about the modeling
industry at these things is wonderful, and brutally honest, too.
They let you know, in no uncertain terms, that if you think you're
going to strut your stuff in front of these agents and walk away
with a million-dollar Cover Girl contract, you are sadly mistaken.
That just doesn't happen, often. I've seen way too many kids
(and parents, too) leave these conventions in tears or yelling
and screaming because they set their expectations too high and
didn't listen to what was being said during the workshops, which
was basically, "you might make it here but chances are you
won't, we're here to show you what you need to do to make money
in this industry after you leave here this weekend."
The cost is probably the biggest concern I had about them. It's
not cheap. The initial open call is free, of course. If you are
one of the chosen few from the open call, you are asked to stay
for the sales pitch. That's when you get the sticker shock -
anywhere from $300 to $500 for the model and an additional $100
to $200 for each guest, and parents ARE guests and have to pay!
Then on top of that, you need to stay somewhere for the weekend
if you don't live close. They usually offer discounted rates
for 3 or 4 hotels nearest to the convention, but they are the
most expensive hotels in town, of course. So look at another
couple hundred for hotel. Add in food, parking, transportation
to and from the convention and there's another couple hundred.
Then there's pictures. You do have to have photos. They don't
have to be professional shots, but they do offer the services
of a pro photographer for anywhere from $150 to $300 for 2 rolls
of film that you develop yourself or in some cases they can do
it for you, or you can use your own shots, but make sure they're
good ones! I've found that even the pro photos aren't all good,
so don't expect to get more than a couple good shots from a shoot,
and with that you're doing very well. You have to show a head
shot and a body shot to the agents. Then, in case you get call
backs, you need to have about 20 copies of them ready to give
to the agents, which can cost a bundle, too. When you add it
all up, you can expect to lay out over $1000 for one of these
conventions. BUT - Add up the cost of traveling to each of the
places these agencies are located to meet with the very same
agents, NY, LA, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Paris, Milan, Tokyo.
We did the NYC trip, spent almost $2000 in all, and didn't get
in the door of one agency! Although, we did go in blind, without
appointments or anything. And, again, once you've been to one
of the conventions, they invite you back the next year for about
Candice, my little model, has been to 3 of them in the past
2 years. We are in Ohio, so the market here is not great, but
growing. She's still in school, so to work in NYC is not possible,
but would have to be done during breaks and holidays for now.
She was exposed to many, many agencies during the conventions.
She did not get any call backs from any of them, but really,
what are the chances? There are normally 800 to 1200 models and
about 25 to 30 agents. What we did learn, though, was that her
age was a huge problem. She was 13 or 14 years old at the time,
but looked 17 or 18, especially in her photos. She was too young
to market as an adult and looked too old to market as a child.
Kind of like when you're trying to grow your hair out and it
gets to that in-between stage where you can't do a thing with
it and you just have to wait and let it grow! She did get some
feedback from agents while there. Some wanted to know if she
was done growing yet (she was almost 5'6") and one even
asked how tall her father was, others asked about her age and
when her birthday was, and one asked her to contact them when
she'd "matured" a bit. I'm not quite sure what that
means, but we're going to meet with him in March. So, Candice
came out of them with something new and useful each time, allowing
her to better understand which direction to take and what to
work on. We came home from the last one and I got the yellow
pages out from the nearest large city to us and called every
agency in them. She's recently contracted (not exclusively because
we're still hoping for NY) with 3 of these local agencies. So
that's how the searches ended. It's not an, "I went in with
nothing and came out with fame" story at all, but this is
probably how they turn out for 85% or more of the models who
attend. Like I said before, you can't get the exposure, training,
experience, and information in one weekend anywhere else that
I know of, and even if you don't get a contract out of it, I
still feel it's worth it.
Daniel, I'd be happy to e-mail or fax you a copy of the agenda
for one of them if you wanted the info on what exactly goes on
at them for your site. I think that everyone should keep their
expectations fairly low when it comes to these conventions because
chances are, you're not going to be picked up by the agencies,
BUT you just might!! And wouldn't that be great!!??!!
p.s. No, I don't work for any of the scouting people, although
I've considered applying..lol,
If there are any questions about them that I didn't cover,
please ask. I know how I hate to go into something uninformed.
Thanks for your sharing your experiences. Any other info you
might be able to share would be appreciated.
From what I have heard individuals and promoters to these
events do build up expectation higher then they should and it
leads to some crushing disappointments. But it sounds like you
have been able to keep these events as a positive mother-daughter
Thanks for sharing,
I guess it's true that at the initial open call they may build
it up pretty good in order to get you to go to (and pay for)
the actual convention. They tell you the stories about those
who've been discovered and gotten contracts from major agencies
during the weekend and they show tear sheets of those models
from major magazines and clips from tv ads and shows with their
discoveries. So, I can see where someone might have some pretty
high expectations going in if that's the only part of the initial
presentation they hear. But, they are also sure to tell you that
not everyone makes it, that only some of the models will even
get call backs, so it's not misleading. I think it's got a lot
to do with selective hearing on the model's and parent's part.
Sometimes we get so excited about something that we only hear
what we want to hear and then if things don't go our way we're
let down. I guess the best advice I have for these is if you're
chosen at the open call, stick around and listen to everything
that's said and ask a lot of questions. The scouts will hang
around at the end to answer them if you don't want to ask in
front of everyone.