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Model Search America
Old 09-08-2005, 05:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have a model that wants to participate in the Model Search America MSA event in Las Vegas and has asked me for advise. My initial take is that it is something simular to Anthony Moya's ModEX and should be avoided - but having no personal knowledge of MSA I thought I would check here. Does anyone know anything about MSA?
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Re: Model Search America
Old 09-08-2005, 05:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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don\'t let her
Old 09-09-2005, 03:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I read the article at the link Jimmy listed, and actually, except for paying the fee and being pitched books and makeup and such, the rest of it was pretty normal (the parts about being reviewed very quickly). I've accompanied models into real model agency offices here in LA (big ones like Ford Models, when it was still owned by Nina Blanchard, who regularly traded models with Ford) and watched Nina spend only a few minutes looking at the model, and the few photos she might have, and saying yes, maybe, or no in a short time, and with little conversation (what could the girl SAY, that makes her LOOK like a model? This is a LOOKS based business.) If she liked her, she'd hand her a list of test photographers and tell her to come back in a month with all new photos (even if she had to pay for them). What most wanna-be models don't understand is, an experienced agent or photographer can usually size up a potential model in seconds. It has to do with the look, the shape, the body language, and some other features specific to the kind of work they book. (Fashion agents like new models to be tall and under 20, for example). When the model in the article balked at spending $300-400 for photos, no matter how it was presented (most models really do have to pay for some pictures at some point) it showed how naive she really was.

Anyway, your friend doesn't need to go to a convention, just look in the mirror and do some homework, like looking in the magazines and deciding honestly how much she looks like the models she sees. IS she photogenic? Is she tall and young? Is she medium height and curvy? If the answer to the former is yes, perhaps a trip to NYC for a week to visit some agencies there would be helpful. There are lots of resources to find the reputable fashion agencies (ask one of the fashion guys here on GG - NY or Miami, I'm sure they know them all). It takes interest and research, like deciding on a college. If the she's shorter and/or older and/or curvy, she might consider LA or Florida. In the old days starting out required a financial commitment to move somewhere where the industry was, now there are certain opportunities available on the web and through contacts, but really, I have to say, at a certain point, especially a true fashion model, you have to be where the industry and the work is. Its not uncommon for a young fashion model starting out in NY, to be sent to Miami, or Europe, to build her portfolio, but that usually happens with an agency that is really taking an interest in developing their models, and that means young models.

You might try photographing her, and simply sending some shots (prints via snail mail) to various agencies (or visit their websites, and follow their submission guidelines), and see what happens. Just send appropriate shots to whoever you send them to, and that depends on all the things I mentioned - her age, height, shape, etc. For example, is she really tall enough for runway work? No matter how far we think we've come, fashion models, especially runway models, still need to be taller (north of 5'9") than bikini babes. Take advantage of your resource here at GG. Take some shots, show them to us, get some feedback.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: don\'t let her
Old 09-09-2005, 05:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Andy,

Thanks for the feedback. As a former Professional Actor/Singer and sometimes model myself, believe me when I say, I know it is a looks oriented business. I also know that snap decisions are made about a person's looks and/or whether they have what it takes to make it in the business. As an actor, 90% of whether you get the job is do you look the part - or more accurately... do you look like what the casting director had in mind for the part.

I was specifically asking about anyone's experience with Model Search USA as I had none myself. I have, since reading the replies to the posting done a little more detective work and found that in the past 12 months they have had 12 complaints with the Better Business Bureau - 11 of which they had never ever bothered to respond to. To me, that tells volumes. The one they did respond to was partially resolved to the complainant's satisfaction.

If we are to believe statistics that tell us that only 1 in every 1000 or so people ever file an official complaint (even if the statistic is closer to 1 in 100) then this represents more somewhere between 1200 and 12000 dissatisfied customers that feel they were lied to, charged incorrectly, had a problem with the contract, or that the service was misrepresented in some way (there are a couple of categories that I left out - but this is basically them). Those are not good odds for some newbie who wants to make it in the industry and is willing to spend hard cash for a chance.

I think that the advise given in the article was correct - not just because it coincides with my initial advise to my model - but because it makes more sense to me to gain experience and confidence at a local level so that if you are put into a "cattle call" casting call you can out-shine the others and know how to turn it on.

As to the claims and testimonials made by and on behalf of Model Search USA - I will take those claims of "Discovery" as valid. The only thing that struck me when reviewing them is that every one of the "Discovered Talents" would have been discovered if they had walked into any reputable agency on their own - as they all have "the look".

I guess that in the final analysis "Caveat Emptor" are the watch words of the day.

Thanks again.
- Chris
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