Freelance Modelling: Is This Our Future?
Freelance models have always seemed like a different breed to me. Lots of us have only ever known one way of modelling since our early teens: being told what we’re doing the next day by our booker, guided strictly on what to wear, having someone else chase clients and jobs for us and getting the best fee for us (undoubtedly the highest they can get, to help with bonus season for those at the agency). So sometimes, when I’ve done a shoot and a model waltzes in, saying that they work freelance, it’s hard to compute. Are they not good enough for any of the agencies? Do they only do crap work off Model Mayhem? Do they get paid the same rates as us?
Times are undoubtedly changing, though. There just isn’t the same level of work as there once was now celebs are the cover stars and in general fees are so much lower than they were 12, 13 years ago and definitely since the 2008 recession. Most of us are having to branch out into other areas and balance modelling with other jobs, as well as managing our own personal ‘brand’. Basically, the lines are blurring as social media and celebrity culture both encroach on our work and broaden our horizons on what we can monetise (sponsored posts etc).
So suddenly, balancing our own endeavours like a popping Instagram, presenting, blogging/vlogging and personal training/yoga teaching with some freelance modelling – a bit of fittings here, some e commerce there – seems like a much more versatile option than having to constantly book out with an agency who may or may not be getting you enough work.
Is freelance modelling the future? I asked the owner of the new agency: Another Story Models, a few questions on why she started AS and how us models might be able to harness this new approach to the profession.
R: Zoe, what’s your mission with Another Story Models?
Z: Another Story Models is a new concept for the modelling industry, bringing models and clients together transparently and making it easier for clients to discover their new favourite model and for models to work with new and exciting clients without the need for an agency.
Models will be able to manage their own careers and work when they are available which is great for part time models who also have other careers or for models who are bringing up a family, but also for freelance models who would just prefer to do things their own way, be more independent and choose who they work with.
In addition to this models will also get paid quicker and pay less commission than a traditional agency. It’s a win-win situation.
R: How did the agency come about?
Z: I am an ex-model and my co-founder is a photographer and we both came up against problems in the industry while trying to do our business through dealing with model agencies. I felt obliged to go to castings for jobs that I knew I wouldn’t get, if I didn’t want to do a certain job I felt pressured to do it just to be on my agency’s working models roster and if I didn’t want to travel abroad to work with their affiliated agencies, I was accused of not being serious about my career.
Zoe and her co-founder/future husband
We want to bring an old-fashioned industry into the present day and we believe this is the right time to do that.
R: How long have you been modelling, and were you at agencies before?
Z: I have been modelling since 1995 but for the last 10 years, I have done it part time in between my other pursuits. However, I have kept a firm finger on the pulse of the industry, as I have also been styling and starting up my own fashion businesses.
R: What other jobs do you do as well as modelling?
Z: I am also a singer songwriter published with Universal Scandinavia and I started up my own business organising vintage pop up fairs.
R: Is there a difference in the sort of modelling work you find freelance, compared to being at agencies?
Z: There is not much to compare that to at the moment as the freelance sites that exist at the moment are driven by a commercial market, and that’s what we want to change. We want to attract editorial and e commerce models and clients too.
R: What are the biggest jobs Another Story models has landed for their models?
Z: We launch on 1st February 2017 so watch this space!
R: Have you had a good reaction from clients? What is their overall feedback?
Z: We have had a great reaction. The clients I have been talking to recently are keen on discovering a new way to book models. Using traditional agencies can be a stumbling block, especially for smaller clients.
R: I’d like to know how it actually works for a model at Another Story. Do they find their own work?
Z: Clients and Models connect through our platform, Clients can book a model directly or request them for a casting. We have built-in messaging and job management.
R: Do people share castings etc?
Z: We don’t have a notice board section, as we want strict quality control initially. When we have a larger vetted client list, we might think of implementing this feature.
R: Do AS models pay for their own comp cards, books etc?
Z: We are an online platform so no need for old-fashioned comp cards or books. Everything will be done digitally, when a model attends a casting the client will receive a digital comp card.
R: Do AS models sign a contract with you?
R: Can AS models be at your agency and a standard sort of agency if allowed?
Z: Yes of course, all models are free to do what they want to do, we are simply matchmakers allowing models to connect with clients they might otherwise never get a chance to work with. [You ought to check with your agency that there is no conflict of interests and you are not going against any existing contracts. Being a member Equity is very useful for legal questions – R]
R: How does payment work, and what percentage do you take from the fees?
Z: Payments will be made by the client soon after the job has been marked as completed and then it will be paid directly into the models account minus our 10% fee.
R: Thank you Zoe!
OK, so it’s early days, and lots of us will want to see how it goes before making any leaps – especially because this will involve us having to take initiative and develop more business nous (not a bad thing, really). However, it definitely looks like a positive step for those who feel a bit like they’re sat at the agency, not doing much, or who perhaps have a family/demanding job and feel terrible about saying no to the agency all the time. Best of all it looks as though Zoe and her partner understand fashion and commercial modelling and the sort of standard that us models expect from a job: decent pay and good jobs that produce images that will not affect our brand and image.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Zoe, and I’m sure we’ll all be watching this space!