Becoming A Model Booker
Becoming A Model Booker
Jonathan Phang (Model booker) gives expert video advice on: What does a model booker do?; Is being a model booker a full time job?; How did you become a model booker? and more...
What does a model booker do?
A model booker is in charge of someone's life, essentially. When a model joins an agency they are put into a division, whether it be new faces, main board or older. Each girl is then allotted one person to be their point person, who they call in with three times a day, and that booker is responsible for the running of their everyday lives. The model booker checks their options, arranges appointments with potential clients, negotiates fees and makes sure that the model is at the right place at the right time.
Is being a model booker a full time job?
It's impossible to be a part-time model booker, because you are responsible for several people's lives. When models are shooting on location, they often shoot over the weekend, and jobs can run on for two and three weeks at a time. Therefore, if you take your eye off the ball, you can effect many people's lives. It is essential you are there 24-7.
Is there any specific training you can do to become a model booker?
There are no necessary qualifications to becoming a model booker. It's a very intuitive industry, so you either really love it and have an instinctive understanding of what it demands, or you don't. I've worked with some people that, on paper, sound really interesting - they've got degrees, they've got all sorts of qualifications - but because you're thinking on your feet, you have to have initiative, and be able to just take risks, find the strength within you and talk the rubbish that it requires.
Do you have to have an interest in fashion to become a model booker?
I think it's very important to have an initial interest in fashion in order to become a model booker, because when you are selling to people that are in an industry, they will not be convinced by you unless they feel that you are believing in what you're selling. If you have no interest in hair, makeup, styling or beautiful women, model booking is probably the wrong job for you.
Do you have to have been a model to be a model booker?
In many ways, it works against you if you have been a model, because models have bookers running their lives, so they don't usually question what goes on behind the scenes. A model just rings in every day and is told what she is doing, and she doesn't really have to think about it. A model trusts her booker, so when the model says, “What is my fee?,” the booker says, "Your fee is X amount for the day." She believes it, doesn't question it and doesn't really have to worry about the thought process that has gone into that negotiation. Therefore, it works against the agencies that employ ex-models as bookers, because you are then exposing too much of what has gone on behind the scenes that you want to keep private.
What advice would you give to an aspiring talent booker?
The advice I'd give a young model booker would be to just not be shy about it; don't worry about people having opinions about their approach to things because if you are lucky enough to be in an established agency, there will be somebody there to train you and mentor you. What they want to see in model bookers is a natural spark and that you can get your way out of a terrible situation, but help will be available to you. If you are shy and you are not inspiring your bosses, you are never going to inspire your models. If a young guy starts, everyone will give them the chance, but models are very critical if something goes wrong. You can make one or two mistakes, and then people's patience will dwindle very fast. Booking rooms have been compared to dealing rooms because it's very chaotic. There is a lot of noise; when the phones start, they don't stop, and everybody has to be on the same wavelength around this table, shouting names, shouting fees, shouting details. You have to have a really good memory to be a model booker; you have to write things down and be prepared with the answers when somebody asks you it. Models can be moody people. You are representing, basically, teenagers, and they work incredibly long hours and sometimes they work very hard. You can argue: "Is walking down a catwalk hard?" Essentially, no it isn't, but to do it well is hard, and to maintain that pace when a girl is in a different city three times a week and travelling, you have to be really on top of it. If you give her the wrong detail, it completely ruins her week and as I say, you are dealing with teenagers and they throw strops so if you can't get them out of that strop and give them the right answers, then you'll be out of a job pretty quickly.
At what age can you become a model booker?
I started model booking at the age of 17, and actually that's the ideal time to start, before you're influenced by other companies. Model agencies like to mould their own. The younger you start, the better.