Why real runway shows don’t require models to sell tickets
So you’re kicking ass and taking names; working on building your book and resume as an aspiring model. One day you’re checking your email or answering your cell phone and you get a call from an event coordinator. They’ve heard of your awesomeness and want you to break out your Naomi Campbell walk for an upcoming show. Hair, makeup, designer clothes, the works… there’s just ONE little catch:
You have to sell a certain number of tickets (usually 20 or so) either to cover production costs or to earn the right be a “featured” model who receives a variety of supposed “additional benefits”.
Anna Sui: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2012 Collection
These “benefits” include:
- headshots of indeterminate quality, taken on site
- a press kit
- runway video footage uploaded to the internet
- additional clothing change
- your face on a flyer
- the nebulous promise of future exposure
CFB: Champagne Fashion Brunch, small fashion show, models walk for experience and fun
Here’s a basic rule of thumb: Anything that requires you to sell tickets to walk runway is not a good look for a serious portfolio.
1. These events have no standards, by and large, because they’re looking for anyone who will make them money, not for the most qualified models for the task at hand.
2. Any event that involved models directly selling tickets will (most likely) not attract the sort of people who make good connections or networking possibilities for future work. Why not? Because most, if not all, of the attending models are inexperienced, so actual working professionals—photographers, hair and makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, etc.—are not going to attend…Aside from, of course, whomever the event promoters hired to be there for the purpose of the show running at all.
Legitimate agencies and casting directors have a constant stream of new faces submitting to them daily from direct castings and open calls, and do not need to waste time crawling local nightclubs hoping to find the next superstar. Magazines have their choice of the full slate of models at all nearby agencies, with the agency being able to provide pre vetted and pre tested girls who meet whatever requirements the agency requested. Even if you’ve decided that you’d be better suited to freelancing, and don’t particularly care about being signed, you’ll still be wasting your time. You’ll have wasted several hundred dollars and several hours of your life walking runway for an audience that, for the most part, consists of the various models’ friends and family.
3. If the company/event will give you such great “exposure”, or contacts, why would they need models to hawk seats to cover their production costs? Why do you have to pay for the supposed benefits via ticket sales? The short answer is they are probably making empty promises about what they are able to do for you. They can’t even make their own events break even without using models as unpaid sales/promotional labor, let alone promote you effectively.
4. Let’s say you didn’t notice points 1, 2 and 3. You sell the tickets, walk the show, and list it as a credit on your resume, along with your new flyer/press kit/magical promotional unicorn.
It won’t matter to your next potential client, as you didn’t get there by being the best possible choice for the job. You bought and paid for your catwalk turn, which anyone with a spare 20 friends and some available cash could’ve done. Take the $200 you would’ve forced your loved ones to spend and/or paid out of pocket and put it toward things that will actually benefit you and your career.
Fashion “show” where models had to sell tickets
Instead, use the money you saved as a down payment for a test shoot or headshots with an established, high quality photographer that works in the genres/markets you are trying to sell yourself in. (A fashion model needs a very different headshot/port than a commercial model, and a combination model/actor would has different needs than the other 2 ladies).
Use it to pay for train tickets or a tank of gas to travel to agency open calls or castings/go sees.
If you have some quality photos already, go get some prints made for your paper/hard copy portfolio.
Use it for more comp cards/business cards, or to have a professional website built.
Don’t use it to pad the pockets of organizations that coordinate pay-to-play runway events.