Acting, modeling,...It's a very uncertain business to be in. That's why it is paramount to be well prepared, but also to know exactly what is expected from you - and what you can expect in return.
frequently asked questions
social media and website
An absolute must. Be active on Facebook and Instagram, but take care of your personal website too. Social media are dynamic but sometimes contain information irrelevant to agencies, while your own website is static and shows only what a client is looking for. Consider making a new Facebook account and follow agencies, production companies and photographers. In certain Facebook groups, you'll also find some (low pay) job assignments. High-end fashion models are better off leaving the distribution of their photographs in the hands of their (exclusive) agencies.
how do I start a website
You can leave this to a professional. But you can take matters into your own hands too, with minimal costs. Register your domain name (url = your own name) at One.com and begin using the webbuilder, of look for a free template at SquareSpace. Choose a clear design with a focus on photos and videos, along with your contact information. You don't need more than that. Have a look at an example here.
how do I make my first portfolio
Ideally, you get in touch with a professional photographer and makeup artist. If you do not want to make this expense, you can always look for a TFP collaboration, in which you and the amateur photographer work together for free and both of you are free to use the photographs. You can find such photographers via Facebook groups. Quality is not always guaranteed, and be vigilant when working together. As a lady, make sure to always be accompanied. If you want to be a high-end fashion model, you won't need professional photographs; snapshots and selfies are enough. Read up on the requirements here.
how do I obtain the results afterwards
After every job, you are technically allowed to put the results on your portfolio, unless otherwise discussed. Some productions expect you to wait with publishing photographs until the production has gone live, but you will be notified about this on set. Afterwards, it is important to share the results, but don't always bother your agency asking for them. If it is a commercial, follow the YouTube channel of the client. Or follow the website or Facebook page and look for the photos featuring you yourself.
can I promote myself on set
This can be delicate, because you'll give your agency the impression that you want to accept the next job without their involvement, meaning they won't get a commission. It is possible to talk directly, to promote yourself, but you should always let the production know they can only book you through the same agency. That way, everybody is satisfied. But again, this can be a sensitive subject, so be sure to discuss it with your agency.
what will I have to do on set
A day of shooting can be very tiring because there will be a lot of downtime. Modifying the set, changing characters and extras or bringing in props can mean you'll be waiting around quite a lot. But try not to be too antisocial or glued to your phone; talk (and especially listen) quietly to other people on set. Show your engagement, your motivation, your eagerness to learn. During shooting, listen to the directions of the director or photographer. Greet everyone at arrival and when you leave.
what should I bring to the set
Come as natural as possible. No makeup, no gel – that way the MUA (makeup artist) can do their job. Sometimes you'll have to bring your own clothing (this will be discussed in advance), but even if this isn't required, you'd do best to always bring a white and a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans and extra shoes. Always bring some makeup with you too (even as a man) and your shaving device with trimmer. If the job only takes half a day, bring your own snack. And, very importantly, bring your own makeup remover.
different agencies contacted me for the same job
You get the same job offers from different agencies on the same day. In that case, the principle is simpe: the first agency you've made the agreement with is the one you'll be working with. Even if you get paid more through another agency, because not every agency uses the same commission rate. Stay loyal if you've made a commitment.
I received different job offers for the same date
It's possible that an agency offers you a job for which you are supposed to block a few dates on your calendar. And just at that moment, you get another offer, with a request to block those same dates. If you accept both offers and end up being cast for both, you have a huge problem. Be honest and inform the second agency that you are already keeping those dates in option for another assignment, meaning that they are second choice for now.
how does an agency determine the commission rate
It's possible you get paid more for the same job through a different agency. If there has been a first selection round already, an agency might include those work hours in your fee. Or, when there is a casting, and the agency also has had to put in extra efforts for this. The client won't be paying for this, so it will come out of your fee. Sometimes, a flat rate will be charged for a casting, while most agencies calculate a percentage.
when do I get paid
Expect a 3 month wait to be paid, starting the day after the job. First, the client will pay the production company, who then in turn will pay the agency, after which you will get your money. For portrait rights, that 3 month term only begins when the materials are actually used. Check up on whether the materials are being used outside of the agreed upon terms (a different country, a longer time frame, a different medium), as in that case you are entitled to an extra payment for portrait rights.
what are portrait rights
Aside from a salary, you'll often get an amount paid to you every time the material is used. In the job description the medium, duration and location of use of the material should always be determined (i.e. 2 years in Belgium on television). You have to pay less taxes on rights.
(↥) I mailed an agency but didn't get a reply
You presented yourself in an email, with photos and measurements, but you are not getting a response. What to do now? Know that agencies get dozens of these emails every day, all the while having to keep up with current contracts and negotiations. It's possible they've missed your email. Agencies can give quick and fleeting replies, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call them. If you're in the neighborhood, pop in.
(↥) should I pay an agency
To sign up, you'll obviously have to present some photos of yourself, so you'll already have worked with a professional photographer. However, many agencies will still organize their own shoot to make your setcard. That is completely free of charge, in the sense that you won't have to pay for the shoot itself, but that an operating expense might for example be deducted from the pay of your first job. If the agency is unable to offer you any jobs, you won't have to pay that cost. Not every agency has the same working methods however, so ask for clarity beforehand.
can an agency demand exclusivity
High-end fashion agencies can certainly demand this, but commercial agencies cannot. Ofcourse they would like to, but the agency landscape is scattered to the extent that even production companies will shop around at different agencies for one assignment. Don't limit yourself to one agency, but be transparent about it.
can I talk about salary on set
Agencies don't like you discussing your salary with colleagues. Sometimes, those colleagues will come through other agencies that use different commission rates, or they don't have an agency at all. Sometimes, a colleague from the same agency will earn less than you, because the agency has determined you have more experience. In the end, it is nobody's business how much you earn. Be discrete; that way you avoid potential irritations between colleagues and you'll spare the agency of potential complaints of that colleague.
how do I get my taxes in order
As a freelancer, you can take care of this with an invoice, or thought artistic temp agencies like Amplo or Smart. Always declare your job before it starts (Dimona declaration of employment). You can also use a KVR (Kleine Vergoedings Regeling), without paying taxes. Get more information on this at www.cultuurloket.be. Always discuss the payment method in advance and never take payments under the table.
how far should I go with nudity and kissing
That is entirely up to you. For roles, you'll usually receive a script beforehand, so you'll know what is expected of you. If any changes are made to the script on the set, and you are asked to do different things, you are allowed to refuse. Contact your agency immediately. Be aware that everything you do can be visible for years, and that content on social media can start leading its own life. Base your choices on your values, not on your desire for a career.
is #metoo a real thing?
I can say without hesitation: yes. From my own experience (as a man too) and from what I have seen on set, I can confirm there are people out there who will take advantage of their status. People who can't keep their hands to themselves or who make degrading comments exist, on set or during castings. Arm yourself with courteous but resolute replies and immediately notify the right people. If it happens on set, contact your casting agency right away. If you feel uneasy for a casting, ask someone to accompany you. Put your values and integrity first, not your career.
how do I make a voice portfolio
There generally aren't any castings for voice recordings, so it's best to make some of your own footage. You can easily make a few recordings with a laptop or smartphone. Choose short taglines like for an advertisement, but also a few longer texts, like in documentaries. Dialects and other languages are interesting too, as long as you sound natural. Play with your voice and impersonate different characters. Go to Soundcloud and upload your recordings. You can place a link to them on your website and in your email to production companies.
how much does it pay
Impossible to say. It depends on the commission rates of agencies, on how big the client is, on what medium is used, in what location and for how long. A commercial on national TV will pay more than a poster campaign. Although a new brand won't have the same budget as a more established one. And when posters are only used locally, the salary will be smaller too. So try not to compare too much. If you accept a job offer, this means you agree with the budget. For your portfolio it can even be advantageous to take a job that pays less from a famous brand.
is availability/flexibility really important
Castings can happen at a moment's notice. You get an email today to come to a casting tomorrow, for a shoot happening at the end of the week. But it can also happen that you'll be asked to keep several days blocked, even if the shoot only lasts a day. Production companies often have to take into account many things, and unfortunately as a model or actor you are the last (and most replaceable) link in the chain. Availability and flexibility are therefore very important, and are the reason many talents are reluctant to take the leap to try to make a fully-fledged career out of this.
what information do I get before a shoot
You'll always get a call sheet beforehand. This contains all practicalities, like location, contact information, the time you have to be there and the expected end time. It will also state any clothing you might have to bring and whether there is a makeup artist. If anything remains unclear, contact your agency before leaving for the job. The end time of a shoot can strongly vary (i.e. because of rain or unforeseen circumstances) so take into account that the day maybe much longer than you anticipated. Let your agency know right away, so that they can charge the production company for overtime.
what are polas
Polas (polaroids) are natural photos, for which you pose without makeup or accessories, in natural light and with a plain background. Often they will be taken by the casting agency itself, but an agency can also ask you for polaroids when they are looking for a specific type. Your clothing for a polaroid depends on what kind of casting it is. If you are a lingerie model you'll go for polaroids like Doutzen Kroes', but as an actor you can keep your clothes on.
what should I send to a fashion agency
They prefer to see you as natural as possible, so send in photos without makeup or mascara and without accessories. With your hair down and up in a ponytail. Make your body visible, so wear a tank top, skinny jeans or legging and high heels. Don't put your hands on your hips, but make yourself tall by pulling your shoulders backwards, chin slightly upwards and legs slightly apart. Lingerie photos are initially not required. Don't forget to mention your height, measurements, shoe size, age and contact information.
what is the biggest career killer
Attitude and motivation are very important, but the most important thing is your time. Many models are afraid to take the step to become a full-time model because of financial insecurity. But if you don't make time and make yourself fully available, you won't be able to get enough jobs to make a living out of this either. At a certain moment, and you'll have to sense this yourself, you'll have to take the step to full availability. That step into the unknown can be the biggest killer of a promising career: make sure you have time.
how to put yourself on the market
01 - preparation
what do you stand for, and what do you need to profile yourself?
02 - registration
agencies will hopefully include you in their portfolio and promote you
03 - follow-up
brand awareness and brand connotation will help you get recognized