Model Mayhem 101: Casting Calls and Collaborating

So, you’ve signed up for Model Mayhem (MM) and you’ve been approved. Now it’s time to start networking. There are two main forms of networking on Model Mayhem and these are straight up, “Hey, do you want to shoot?” and casting calls.

How to Set Up a Collaboration on Model Mayhem

Searching for connections on MM is pretty simple and straightforward: If you’re looking for a photographer to collaborate with, all you need to do is click on “Browse,” enter in your specifications, and browse.

What we do on Model Mayhem when first getting started is shooting TFP, TFCD, or trade. They all essentially mean the same things.

  • TFP = Trade For Print
  • TFCD = Trade For CD
  • Trade = Trade 😉

Essentially, these all imply both parties are working on a shoot for free, meaning you will get “compensated” in photos from the shoot.

6 Rules to Never Break:

  • Always have a third person on set when you are meeting someone for the first time. You don’t know this person, nor do you know if they are who they say they are. Just be safe and extremely cautious. I have not had any problems because I am careful. Listen to your gut.
  • Be suspicious of high paying gigs on MM. Maybe some are legit, but be wary! You will hardly come across a $1,000 gig listed in the casting calls on Model Mayhem, let alone $500.
  • Look for quality of work/photography. If the photography seems iffy, perhaps the photographer is iffy, too, which isn’t worth your time. Keep high standards.
  • Treat Model Mayhem kind of how you would Craigslist, and the internet in general: There are creepers around, so be safe!
  • Always maintain an unobtrusive professionalism with everyone you come across, even if they don’t.
  • Be straightforward and direct, but in a polite, outgoing way. Your work, reputation, and image speak for you, but you speak for you, too!

8 Email Etiquette Tips: Once you’ve found someone to collaborate with, how you contact them is often important for your reputation and professionalism.

  • When composing a message, shorter is better. People get bored reading too much. So after you write an email, take everything out that you can that isn’t really necessary.
  • Organization. Should be a no brainer, right? Start off with a quick intro, express your interest, some qualifications, plus anything additional you think will increase your chances at impressing them.
  • If there are specific details, include some (or all, if necessary). The point is to draw them in and create a conversation.
  • Be original
  • Make sure format fits in well with your organization.
  • Format. The shorter the paragraphs, the better. So make sure there are enough breaks, but not so many that it’s annoying.
  • End the message requiring the reader to take action.
    • Ex: “Meet you here at this time on this day.”And if it doesn’t work for them, ask what day would.
    • “When is most convenient to meet for you?” also works, while playing it safe.
    • “Let me know if you’re interested” doesn’t cut it and isn’t forward-thinking enough.
  • Don’t let your ending “sincereties” be too wordy. “Thanks” or “Thank you” should work fine.

Rates: Eventually, if people like you, you’re good enough, and your portfolio expresses as much, there will be people (designers, photographers, companies, etc) willing to hire you for your modeling service. If you’re lucky, this will happen right away. However, do expect to have to work for it. This usually doesn’t happen right away.

When you’re having a conversation about a potential booking, don’t jump right into telling people your rate. Sometimes there will be a set rate that they are offering for the job and other times, the rate is up to your own discretion.

Get the details first and discuss what is going on. If the photographer is really great, you may want to work for free. You have to use judgement here when to bring up pay or when asking for compensation is a bad idea. If the people involved are a great deal more experienced than you are, asking for payment may be inappropriate.

Most of the time, compensation will be indicated beforehand for a project. A photographer or designer will state what you (the model) get from the shoot in return and you can choose to accept or decline.

If pay isn’t immediately discussed, get the details first. Then state what your flat or hourly rate is.

NOTE: If you contact a photographer saying explicitly “you’d love to shoot with them,” this is implying a TRADE shoot. You can’t say something like that and proceed to tell them they need to pay you X amount of dollars.

However, if you are replying to a Tag (similar to a Timeline post on Facebook), Friend Request, Comment or Message, seeing as they expressed the interest first, you may ask them if your look fits for any projects they’re working on. Once the collaborator expresses interest in working with you, you may choose where to go from there (rate or no rate).

How much you are comfortable asking for is entirely up to you. As you gain experience and experiment, you will learn what replies will be most successful as well as what people are willing to pay you. More experience = higher pay.

Model Mayhem Casting Calls
Casting calls are posted on Model Mayhem by anyone and everyone. Photographers and designers (when looking for a model) are the most frequent posters. Search by clicking on “Casting Calls,” selecting “Model,” and a radius.

Each casting call has an indication of what to expect for concept and compensation and usually doesn’t require going somewhere physically for a casting. On MM, photographers and designers usually cast and book talent directly based on what they’re looking for.

Don’t just comment “interested” on the casting call like everyone else. Express your interest with a reply message or, if they ask for it, an email with attached photos, links to your portfolio, and current snapshots. You want to remember to remain professional and that your work needs to speak for itself.

Keep your casting call replies short and sweet, but not too short. Three to four sentences should do the trick.

As stated above, be suspicious of high paying gigs on MM. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Sometimes a casting will have a rate of $1,000+. Just be careful. You can inquire, but if things don’t look right, then don’t commit to anything. Don’t meet anyone you don’t know alone.

Physical Casting Calls: I consider these, for the most part, safe to attend. Multiple models will show up to these. Show up looking your part: Like a model! Bring comp cards and your physical model portfolio and heels! Look up the address of the casting call beforehand and make sure it is in a populated area. Obviously don’t go if it seems sketchy.

Have fun, fellow MM-er!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

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