“How do I become a model scout?” is a popular question we receive at ModelScouts.com. Since there are no schools or courses offered on how to become a professional model scout it can often seem confusing to someone who really wants to pursue scouting as a career.
A career as a model scout can be exciting and fun, involving lots of travel, attending amazing fashion shows, meeting famous models, designers and other celebrities. It is very satisfying to find a new face and be the one who’s responsible for starting their modeling career, especially when the model becomes a tremendous success. At the same time it can mean sitting in airports, dealing with cranky or difficult models, long hours and disappointment. If this all sounds wonderful to you, then you probably have what it takes to become a model scout and turn it into a career.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Bring Something to the Table
In other words, have something to offer. Study the business. Know who the top models are and who represents them. Learn the history of top modeling agencies and the names of the people who founded and/or currently run them. Know the names and faces of the superstars such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Lauren Hutton, Beverly Johnson, Carmen Dell’Orefice and others who led the way for today’s supermodels. As they say – “to know where you are going, you have to know where you’ve been.” Immerse yourself in the industry. Show that you have taken the time to know about the business in which you want to work.
Modeling Icon – Carmen Dell’Orefice
Learn the Lingo
Be sure you know what terms like TFP (Time for Prints), buyout, and model comp cards mean. Don’t expect the agencies to teach you the basics such as commonly used modeling terms.
Start in the Mail Room or as an Intern
In big agencies the only way that a wannbe agent could break into the business was to start in the mail room and work their way up from the ground floor. Many of Hollywood’s mega agents and moguls such as David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Michael Ovitz started their careers in the mail room. A definite read for anyone serious about becoming an agent should be the book The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up.
Another great way to get your foot in the door is to work as an unpaid intern. A lot of agencies are willing to teach you the business in exchange for your working for them as an intern. This way you can prove yourself to the agency and often be promoted to a paid position within a short period of time.
Model Laura LaRue – Discovered by Model Scout Vanessa Helmer, ModelScouts.com
Build a Track Record
If you want to work independently from an established agency and start out on your own, it is important to build a track record. If you are scouting models and talent and then introducing them to agencies be sure that your prospects are very well-suited for that particular agency. Don’t promote your talent to agencies that don’t represent their particular look, it is a waste of time and you are showing the agency that you don’t understand what they are all about. If you routinely send the agency models or talent that are well-suited to that particular agency (even if they aren’t signed to a contract) the agency will continue to want to work with you and will always take your calls and open your emails.
Model Talk Radio Episode - Become a Model Scout
Focus on a Particular Type
Until you have been working in the industry for a while it is best to focus on one particular area and become the best you can be in that area. Focus on representing only editorial female models, male models, child models or swimsuit models – whatever area that most interests you is the area that you should focus your attention. It will allow you to become a specialist and the go-to person for that type of model or talent.
Supermodel Coco Rocha – Discovered by Model Scout Charles Stuart, Vancouver
Be Professional (Don’t Be Creepy)
Always be professional. This means keep appointment times, don’t be late, always take the high road in difficult situations, don’t bad mouth other agents or scouts, pay your debts – never owe money to your models, photographers or others whose services you use. Always maintain a professional demeanor! And, most important – never, and I mean NEVER use your job as your personal dating service or a way to find your next hot girlfriend or boyfriend. Do not make sexually suggestive comments, stare at or touch a model in an inappropriate way or do anything that will make them uncomfortable. Sure, we’ve all read stories about big-time agents who may have had relationships with their models, but until you are the head of a multi-million dollar agency and feel you can risk it all by doing something stupid, just don’t do it!
Understand Basic Contract Law
While it’s not necessary to have a law degree you should have a basic understanding of contract law and how to negotiate contracts. There are many good resources that can teach you the basics and even more focused types of resources such as the book Hollywood Dealmaking – Negotiating Talent Agreements