Becoming a model – We met today with CM Models agency owner Stephan Czaja. Within a very short time he has built up one of the leading model agencies with jobs in Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and Shanghai. He knows the requirements for models around minimum height, weight & Co. Stephan also organizes model castings for fashion shows and advertising productions. That’s why we wanted to ask 7+1 questions about becoming a model today! Above all we want to know: What does a model have to bring along? How does one become a model? How do jobs for Instagram, Youtube & Co. differ? At the end of this article we will give you 3 tips for your next model casting from the expert.
- Become a model – Advisor on CM Models
- Become a model interview – XXL interview in FIV Magazine – Modeling in New York, Paris & Co
Model scouting: What must a model be able to do?
Editor -As a model booker and agency owner, what do you value most when young models apply to you? Is good looks really everything or what else is important when you want to become a model?
Stephan Czaja – The first thing is personality. It is what makes a model. Personality, in turn, expresses itself in many facets that are important for a model’s job. Positive manner is one of them, friendly appearance, good mood and of course a smile, even after a long, exhausting shooting day. In big cities like Paris, Milan and London there are also 5 or 6 castings a day. That means stress, especially when a model is in big cities like Berlin, London, Paris or New York for the first time. It becomes even more extreme in Asian mega cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Seoul. Millions of people, foreign language, those who work here for the first time as a model at the age of 17 or 18, will be faced with a lot. That’s why you should start as early as possible, preferably at the age of 15 or 16.
But at the beginning everything starts out very relaxed. If you send your application to model agencies early enough, you will have enough time to gain experience in first photo shootings with photographers, first model jobs and if all requirements are right, also in first short trips abroad, for example jobs at Paris Fashion Week, Instagram Shooting in Lisbon or city shootings in London.
Photo – CM Models New Faces, Women (Klara [Milan] Laura [Düsseldorf] and Anni [Paris])
Photo – Cocaine models New Faces, men (Darcy [Zurich] and Franck [London])
As a model you have a lot of free time in relation to the normal 9-to-5 job. But when jobs are coming up, there are sometimes very stressful days: flight, hotel, production, there is a lot to be expected from models. Accordingly, as a model you should be secondly: an independent, self-confident person. In addition, the bigger the jobs, the bigger the teams and of course the investments of the client in such a media production. If you are late as a model, it quickly costs many tens of thousands of Euros. We have also had production with luxury cars, 80-man production team, extra cordoned-off airport area. The moment for models to prove what they can do.
Accordingly, the way from set-up to such castings and jobs is long. The way is long, but it is worth it!
But then, thirdly, ambition and motivation are important. As a model, you need to have the ambition to constantly improve yourself, as well as motivation and the confidence that you can do it. The first sign that you have as a model, that the conditions are right and you have the potential, is the agency admission or model contract in a big model agency like ours.
Become a model: Requirements and minimum size
Editing – Away from the looks and characteristics of the model, when is the perfect age for models to start? How tall do you have to be as a model?
Stephan Czaja – You should start modeling at the age of 15, 16. After all, you still need to build up, especially with regard to the personality just discussed, but above all your own model portfolio. In the model portfolio, models collect their best photos from jobs and photo shoots with good photographers. So the customer has a quick overview of what you have already done and how versatile you can be as a model.
The more diverse the photos, the more facets you show, the higher the chance to get good jobs. The build-up takes 2, 3 years, accordingly you should start early, preferably already in school, as I said with 15 years, 16 years.
Good model agencies make sure that the focus remains 100% on school. However, the first shootings can be arranged in parallel, a few small jobs can be done, the first experiences can be made. If you then finish school successfully at the age of 17, 18 years, your career can start. If you have the right prerequisites as a model, you can work in the big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Paris or even London.
Application and interview
Editor – Which photos should models send with their application if they want to become a model?
Stephan Czaja – The photos of the model application should always be absolutely natural! No make-up, no styling, a simple outfit, preferably consisting of black pants and a black top. You do not need a professional photo shooting! We recommend a simple mobile phone, daylight and best of all mum, dad or friends who can quickly take some photos.
On the photos you should be seen as a model as said absolutely natural, that means besides make-up and styling also no posings! Look frontally into the camera, once with open hair, then with closed hair, with a serious look, then a smile. This frontally as a portrait and once from the side. That’s it! This is all you need for a good model application. The next step is to send your photos to the model agency. Here one of the model scouts will look at your photos and if it suits the agency, you will get a feedback from the model agency or the model scout within 7 days.
Editor -followers on Instagram, Youtube and TikTok play an increasingly important role, how big is the role of social networks in the selection of models?
Stephan Czaja – The number of followers on Instagram and Co. does not play a role in the selection during casting or the model application. But if you work as a model later on, followers already help you to get jobs, because more and more often customers take a look at the social media profiles of the models. The big goal of an advertising campaign is reach. If you can generate additional reach by booking a model, this is of course a big plus for customers during casting or e-casting.
This means that followers do not play a role in the model application, but they can be helpful in later jobs to get the job.
Model Jobs: Modeling for Instagram, Youtube and TikTok
Editing – Every job is different from video shooting for Youtube to photo shooting for Instagram: How different are the requirements in the different areas? Where do the quality and skills of the models differ?
Stephan Czaja – When it comes specifically to working for social media content, photos for Instagram are easiest in proportion for young models. After all, the classic work of models is photo shootings. But when it comes to moving images, whether it’s Instagram stories or videos for a posting, it gets more challenging. Often small, first sequences have to be learned, sometimes also texts. Not one story is produced, but 20.
At the moment I think Unboxing videos and product presentations are the most complex. With Unboxing Videos for YouTube and Instagram, but also Facebook or TikTok, how is it about opening a package with mostly more or less unknown content? What it is all about are the emotions that arise when unpacking, joy, amazement but also discovery. Anyone working under time pressure here, for example in a video production, has to remember a relatively large number of details, from specific brand names to product names, processes, lines of sight. If a scene can only be captured once, so that the emotions are real, everything has to fit right away.
You need real professionals for this, that’s why we have model castings and e-castings.
Photo – Commercial for Dailies with Johanna, Marie and Hannes @ CM Models
Video – Commercial for Dailies with Johanna, Marie and Hannes @ CM Models
Photo – Commercial for VW T-Cross with Milva @ CM Models
Video – Commercial for VW T-Cross with Milva @ CM Models
Video – Commercial for VW T-Cross with Cara Delevingne (same campaign)
Model casting sequence
Editor -For jobs you organize many model castings, how does such a casting work?
Stephan Czaja – Castings are relatively unspectacular, often directly in the agency and when things get bigger, preferably in a warehouse. Depending on the job, up to 150 models gather in front of the entrance. In the entrance area, each model is given a number when they register and is then called either by number or by name. Most of the castings go relatively fast, the appearance of the model is in the foreground and of course the personality, e.g. by a smile and joy at work! Each model introduces herself briefly, shows her own photo folder and then it’s: Next!
The further course of castings is very individual depending on the job. If we would do a casting for a fashion show, the next step would be the fitting. This is where models try on the clothes, the big question: Do the selected pieces fit the model? If necessary, changes can be made or another model gets the chance.
If it would be a casting for social content or an advertising spot, small live scenes are often played, sometimes short videos are recorded for the customer, for example if only marketing staff are on site. So even a small acting performance is required for such a casting. Of course no complex scene, it’s only about seeing if the model can slip into a certain role. For fashion clients, you usually stay exactly as you are, that’s enough for a shooting. But if you advertise a certain candy bar or a car brand, for example, you need acting talent. Sometimes you are the go-getter, then the shy one or the business woman in the sports car.
Casting tips: How to get the job
Editor -What can you recommend models for their next casting? Do you have tips for young models and their first casting in a social media or advertising agency?
Stephan Czaja – The first good tip I can give is always be confident. Especially for young models it is difficult to cope with the big competition at their first casting. Suddenly you are standing at the casting location and for the first time you meet 30, 40 or 50 other models. In cities like Milan there are sometimes up to 100, 200 models during the Fashion Week. This is where a young model quickly realizes how big the competition is. At this moment you as a model must not become shy or reserved, because you can see that in your facial expressions and gestures. But you want to radiate positive energy, joy and good mood! Then that’s exactly why clients book models. Of course there are also jobs where you have to put on a serious face as a model, but backstage at the production the teams always have fun and therefore want positive people on the production set.
The second tip is definitely: Never forget to smile. Especially after a long day, with many castings and many models you have met as marketing or creative director, I personally notice again and again how refreshing a smile can be. Especially when five candidates in front of you had a serious look, it is a simple smile with which you can attract additional attention.
Tip number three is, as always, preparation! If you prepare well for a model casting, if you know what the job will be about, you have already done a lot. If you are then spontaneously asked a question like “why do you want to model for our brand?” you should have a good answer ready. In addition, when casting, you should make sure that you appear as natural as possible. For models this means no make-up, no styling, simple black clothes. Female models should also wear a black bikini and high heels, also in black. These are my tips for your next casting, maybe I’ll see you sometime.
Editor -Thank you very much for the answers!
Video – Commercial for Nike with Louisa and Lisa @ CM Models
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