In our latest blog post (How to Model Internationally!) we talked about how to become an international model. This blog post is geared towards really breaking the process down by informing new models of what to expect if given the chance to model internationally. We already know that placement agencies help models by sending out their info and stats to international cities across the globe. But what else might a local model need to know before they get started on an international modeling career? It starts like this…
After you have done the hard part, getting an agency that has the good nature and ability to send you across the globe, the questions set in. Where am I going to go? How long will I be there? Will they kidnap me and eat my feet? These are all great questions. But first things first, if you do not already have one, you will need a passport. Also, if you are heading to a certain country where foreigners need a visa to enter, you will have to get this as well (Visas permit entry into and travel within a particular country or region. They are stamped in your passport upon arrival and departure and are typically issued in consulates and embassies). After all the coordinating details, you pack your bags, catch your flight, and you are off to…. oh let’s say…. Barcelona! Here’s how it works!
International modeling agencies typically work on contracts. Before leaving your respective country, you will be asked to sign a contract, much like an athlete. This contract may be for any amount of time, but my experience has taught me that the contracts are generally for 2 to 4 months. This allows the foreign agency enough time to optimize your talent as they will be marketing you for all kinds of jobs. Once there, you will more than likely live in a model apartment. Model apartments are just like any other apartment, but they are filled with other models. Models who may not speak the same language, or have the same hygienic standards, or even have the same respect or integrity. It is kind of a Russian roulette of who will be your best friends for the next few months.
Foreign agencies know that most models do not have money and are most often times…… broke. So foreign agencies will provide what is called pocket-money. Pocket money is foreign cash that is given to a model weekly in order to buy groceries, metro tickets, or literally whatever the models want to spend it on. Here’s the kicker, they never give you very much pocket-money. Consider it the bare minimum that you will need to survive. Let’s stay on the subject of money. Some agencies will pay upfront for all of your costs (flight, rent, pocket-money, international comp cards, etc.), but you basically work for free until you have paid all of this off. So you must work consistently in order to take money home, which they will pay you upon your departure. If you do not make enough money, no problem, the agency will take the loss, but you take nothing home. Other agencies will give you pocket-money and pay some expenses, but will not pay for your flight and consider this your cost. This means you will need some of your own money up front, but may have an easier time making money while you are there as you are not in debt to the agency for an expensive flight. Some agencies even offer a salary where they will pay you a specified amount no matter what at the end of your stay. All agencies work differently and you will find this out when you look over your contract before signing it. You can try to negotiate the contract as well.
The flight will be long, longer than most flights you have probably ever taken (I once modeled in Beijing which happens to be an 18 HOUR FLIGHT!). As long as you have a great attitude going in, the kind of attitude that says you can deal with anything for a few weeks, you will be more than fine. Just make sure you understand the contract before signing and negotiate the contract if needed. Make sure you have a passport, have a visa (if needed), use your pocket money wisely, and keep a great attitude as well. Remember, you might be thousands of miles away from home. There may be some culture shock. This makes having a great attitude even more important. If you can have and do all these things you will have the time of your life and perhaps someday be able to call yourself… an international model.