Ever since COVID-19 settled in and made itself at home, every industry and business across the globe has had to make some drastic changes to how they do things, including the modeling industry.
Although many jobs have come to a grinding halt, models in searching for agency representation shouldn’t just sit by and wait it all out.
While the normal ways of conducting business have changed and agencies have had to adapt to new processes, now is actually a great time to be researching and submitting to new agencies. Model bookings are coming in at a slower rate, which gives agencies a little more time to focus on sorting through digital submissions and bringing on new faces.
Not all agencies operate the same way under normal circumstances, and each city has its own guidelines for how to pursue "business as usual" during a pandemic, so the submission experience will probably vary widely depending on where you live and what market the agencies you're looking at are located in. To help mitigate confusion, below are a few things to keep in mind to prepare you for what to expect when agency shopping during a pandemic:
Most Agency Offices are Closed or At Limited Capacity
In cities where pandemic case-loads are still high, most agencies have closed their office doors. They're still answering phones, emails and conducting business as much as possible, but bookers and other agency staff are working from home. If anyone is in the office, it’s because they have something scheduled or can’t conduct their work from home. Don’t think that during this time you can just stroll into an agency as you may have been able to in the past. Just to be safe- always call ahead and make sure it’s ok you come by or schedule an appointment so you can be sure the person you even want to speak to is there!
Delayed Response Time
Since many agencies had to close their doors, they may have also had to let go of some staff, which means there may be a delay in responding to submissions. Many new models are taking advantage of this ‘down’ time and new face submissions continued to roll in despite the fact that there may not be the same number of staff sorting through them. It typically takes a few weeks for an agency to respond back to models they're interested in anyway (remember: they will only reply if they're potentially considering representing you), so it may be even further delayed if they had to cut staff. Be patient, and know that if they are interested in representing you, you will eventually hear from them!
No Open Calls
One big con of the pandemic is that open calls are no longer happening. If you’re unfamiliar with what an “Open Call” is, it’s basically when an agency chooses a day and timeframe to open its doors and take anyone and everyone that wants to come in to try to get signed. You can literally walk in off the street and shoot your shot at getting a contract. Attending an open call is actually how I got signed to two of my agencies, and it’s such a great way to physically get in front of the agency staff instead of hoping they come across your online submission.
Since these are no longer happening, you have to rely on the digital submission process. Every agency has a “get scouted/be discovered” page on their website, and this is where you will submit all of your information.
Virtual Meetings Only
If you do get a call-back from an online submission, in the past you would then go for an in-person interview of sorts to officially meet and speak with your potential agency. Now with travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, the majority of agencies are only doing virtual meetings. There pros and cons to this. A big pro is that you don’t have to shell out a lot of money for travel and lodging in a different city if you don’t end up signing a contract after leaving the meeting, but in the same token not being able to get in front of them in person is a pretty big con. It’s hard to get a real feel for a person and agency when you’re just speaking over a computer screen, and they also don’t get a true look at you. Computer screens can distort your look a little and lighting is always a huge issue, so that is something to keep in mind if you have a virtual meeting.
Not Accepting Submissions at All
Unfortunately, some agencies were hit harder than others and have ceased accepting new talent altogether. While the reasons vary from agency to agency, it sadly isn't surprising. Many agencies have lost clients and/or staff, and due to that have had things placed on pause until things can get back on track. When the workflow is unsteady and unpredictable, oftentimes agencies to not take on new models and instead focus on managing the ones they currently have.
Patience is always a huge virtue for any model, especially when trying to get signed to an agency. Although scouting is still happening and new models are being brought onto agency rosters, the entire process is going to continue to be affected by the pandemic with no sign of when (or if) things will go back to the way they were before. As a result, we all have to go with the flow and be adaptable.
Now that everyone has had to move to a virtual way of doing business, it’s very important to have up-to-date and good looking digitals when doing agency submissions. Take a look at my post Digital Casting Submission Tips for how to get good submission materials to send into agencies.
As always during these crazy times- stay safe, stay healthy, and stop working towards your goals!