Model Booker for Idole Model Management, Fatiha Sanhaj has +6 years experience developing model’s careers and managing their professional careers and working with advertising agencies to create ad campaigns.

How does your job fit into the marketing process? As a model booker, I accompany models throughout the development of their career. I evaluate their potential, build their model book, teach them how to model, how to dress, how to walk if the model will be doing défilés. I also organize all meetings with the photographers, magazines and advertising agencies.

For foreign models (models who don’t live in Paris), Idole provides model houses for models during their stay and Paris.

On the administrative side I negotiate the model’s contracts in terms of tarif and royalties. I also follow-up and monitor our model’s contracts to make sure the royalties are respected and paid.

There are instances where photos are used illegally (intentionally or not) for purposes not outlined in the contract. For example if a company or website finds an image of one of my models through a Google search, modifies it, and then uses that image to advertise their product/service.

Model agencies do have lawyers at their disposal to handle such copyright and royalty issues, but these issues are usually resolved without having to involve a lawyer.

Plus most respectable advertising agencies have international coordinators who actively manage their client’s campaigns to make sure the royalties and image rights are respected and up-to-date in order to avoid developing a bad reputation with the modeling agencies.

The most enriching part of my job is witnessing the evolution of a model’s career – Literally scouting a person on the street and watching them turn into a high-level model signing for multiple international campaigns.

What’s an advertising campaign you’ve worked on? A few months ago we launched a French-wide contest to find the next ‘new face’. We were very happy with the results! Here is one of the videos we diffused on our Vimeo account.

How do castings work? Advertising agencies do sometimes contact us for castings, however it’s typically the casting director who works for the production company hired by the advertising agency who organizes the castings. The advertising agency gives the casting director a brief which contains explicit mock-ups for the advertising campaign, so most of the time the casting director already has an idea of the model requirements they’re looking for (age, gender, color and length of hair, skin, look, etc.).

We send composite cards for all the models we represent who fit their description requirements. There are rare situations where either the brief doesn’t provide a clear picture of what they’re looking for. Those castings can end up being a mess for everybody!

And what about work visas for foreign models? In Idole, like with any other model agency, we have a person who takes care of the work visa process to make sure all our models in France are legal and allowed to work.

How do you scout models? This works both ways, in fact. We scout models who we know based on our experience advertisers look for. But at the same time advertisers are always looking for a new face. So I’m always on the look out for new models and evaluating their potential to correspond to the market, be it commercial or in fashion. You must anticipate, and even create the need for the new faces.

Idole, like most model agencies, have a scout whose job is to liaise with foreign model agencies to find new faces.

What’s a misconception people commonly have? One major problem is model availability versus the ad agency’s urgent needs. Most models stay in one city (location) about 6 weeks at a time depending on the amount of work they receive. 6 weeks is long enough to test the market, and of course, if the model has a lot of work, he or she will stay longer.

But the problem often is that ad agencies might do a casting in June for a photoshoot in September, and by the time the advertising agencies have organized the photoshoot and want to use certain models, the models are no longer in Paris – they’ve already moved to another city:

  • for fashion weeks in New York City, Milan, Paris, and London, etc.
  • in search for modeling work,
  • to return home on vacation, or
  • because many models are also studying at university.

Of course we can have the model fly back to Paris at the additional cost to the ad agency, but it’s an additional cost a ad agency might not be willing to incur.

A second problem we encounter is the price of the models. Yes, we are in a crisis, but a model’s pay (for abiding model member agencies) is set by the Syndicat National des Agences Mannequin (SYNAM).

Why are some models more expensive than others? Of course there is a pre-determined limit of pay set by the SYNAM, but there are also different classifications of models depending on:

  1. The quality of his or her book, and
  2. His or her experience

The more experienced the model, and the better his or her book, therefore the more expensive he or she becomes. Just as with any industry – the more experienced the person, the more they cost.

Despite the contracts models may have done in the past, a model’s career evolves. Therefore, for example, a model might sign a contract and do a photoshoot for an ad campaign as a beginner in 2012, but by 2013 the model may have become a ‘top model’, which means that the ad agency who decides to re-use the 2012 advertising campaign has to have the contract re-evaluated and updated to reflect the model’s current classification.

Again, there is a minimum tariff set by the SYNAM, But individual classifications are defined by the model booker, who is ultimately contractually responsible for the “development of the model’s career” (quoted from above).

Concerning misconceptions of models, a female’s modeling career generally doesn’t last for a long time, apart from the few who do become top models. As mentioned, it’s always a question of how the model walks, dresses, and presents himself or herself to the client – which is learned. Some models learn quickly while some models take a longer time to learn. An then of course there is always remaining within the model size limitations (size, weight, hair, etc.)

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from your experience? Concerning the young female models, despite their youth, it’s often times surprising how organized and mature young models can be, and how quickly they can learn and move up in the industry.

To be a model booker, you must be very organised, extremely patient (because you’re dealing with impatient clients and young models), and a very good ability to network and manage people!

Also, you must be passionate about fashion. Everyday we receive all the major magazines, and we search all the major blogs, associated with fashion to stay up-to-date with fasion and trends.

How does someone become a model booker? I studied management, but model bookers often come from many different fields of study and backgrounds – there isn’t an actual model booker‘s diploma. It’s really people from many different backgrounds and experiences who want to work either in fashion or in commercial management.

What’s important is knowing the royalty rights and laws associated with modeling as well as a sensibility to fashion.

What is the next career step after being a model booker? Afterwards there are many options: you can become a casting director, you can open your own model agency, become an independent agent…

Where to you often go to for ideas/inspiration?

  • Models.com for fashion news and models.
  • Vogue.com for news
  • Style.com for fashion magazines and press.
  • And then all the magazines that are delivered weekly to our agency.

What’s your favorite advertising campaign?

I’m an aspiring photographer, any advice? Model agencies are willing to collaborate with promising university students and photographers wanting to fill their books and gain experience, sending them models for test shoots. This allows the photographer to gain experience and fill thier books and our models get updated photos for their own books – it’s a win-win situation.

If the photographer is good, we’ll use and refer them indefinitely.

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? If you have a limited budget, contractually we can:

  • Provide you with an amateur model,
  • Limit your usage rights, and/or
  • Limit your time with the model – half-day booking instead of a full day.

Regardless, anyone who wants to use a model (apart from the exchange mentioned above) for free we decline.

As mentioned, any person, or photographer who uses the photographes for any reason not outlined in our contract must pay the royalties and image copyrights.

How does royalty and image rights extend to the online world? Our contracts are very explicit concerning how and when the photographs can be used. If the contract is broken or not respected, then, as mentioned above, model agencies have lawyers at their disposal to handle such copyright and royalty issues, but these issues are usually resolved without having to involve a lawyer.

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