The 9-to-6 of Modeling Agency Founder Farah Ramos
The fashion model-turned-agent is making waves with her own modeling agency. But what really goes into model scouting, casting and booking?
I was already up by 6.30 AM, actually. Part of my job is to make sure my models show up to work on time and today, my newest talent, Fenella, had a 7 AM call time. When I woke up, I checked in with her to make sure she was already on her way to the shoot. The plan today was to head over with Fenella at seven, but instead, I am dedicating the first half of my morning to settling paperwork. Right now, I’m printing contracts, working on email presentations and getting back to people inquiring with Farah Models, my agency. Emails coming in at seven in the morning from clients who need to look at models for their projects is nothing new, so I make sure to accommodate them first thing in the morning before I head out for anything.
I make my way over to the Pro Studio by New Monarq. Fenella, the model who booked this job, is new to the game. She’s a 13-year-old student who wanted to try her hand at modeling. I found out about her from another model of mine; the two girls are schoolmates and friends. Not even a week into signing Fenella, she already booked her first photoshoot: a major ad campaign for one of the country’s retail giants. That’s where we’re headed.
Major campaigns like this usually take up the entire day, so there’s a lot of down time in between the moments the models are actually needed on set. Right now, for example, there are kids being photographed. There are male teens, too, for their category and then female teens. The production teams are also shooting photos and videos simultaneously in this one studio.
I make it a point to use some of the waiting time to chat with my models and discuss the basics of making it in the industry. First off, I always remind them about how important it is to be on time. Showing up on time is a sign of respect kasi. I always tell my models that: “Hayaan mo na sila yung nagpapahintay sa atin; basta tayo, hindi tayo nagpapahintay ng tao.” Alongside that, I tell them that no-shows are a no-no. You know, you can have the most beautiful face in the lineup. You can be an absolute pro at posing, but if your clients aren’t confident in you because you’ve gained a reputation as the model who sometimes doesn’t show up to her shoots or shows, that could really hurt your career.
We head to the catering setup just outside the studio to get a quick bite to eat. The talents today are from different agencies (there are some represented by Elite Manila, some are from New Monarq) so during these instances, the people we get to spend the lunch breaks with are the model bookers and talent handlers from other companies. In this business, it’s okay to mingle and collaborate with other agencies. I mean, you end up at the same events, the same fashion shows, the same campaign shoots anyway. You might as well get to know who you’re sharing the space in the industry with. It’s also an absolutely normal setup to refer models from other agencies for projects that you were approached for. Kasi my forte is handling female models—teens and adults—and if a brand approaches me for a project I don’t have the models for, I’ll refer talents from other agencies instead.
I say goodbye to the folks at the campaign shoot and head back to Mandaluyong. Fenella isn’t through with the project, but she’s all set to take on the rest of the day. She got to warm up having shot several layouts already. She kind of has her momentum. He mom accompanied her to this shoot, so I can just check in with her via text.
As soon as I get home, I go back to preparing email presentations for clients. A lot of the initial castings in this day and age happen online via email. I reply to modeling inquiries as well. You know, because of social media, it has become so easy for aspiring models to reach out and try their luck at modeling. Girls send messages on Facebook and Instagram, but I always tell them to send me an email. It really is still the way to go—the way to formalize everything and show you are professional. It’s important though that aspiring models send photos of themselves with their vital stats, no makeup on, no editing. A lot of girls send photos tapos sobrang kapal ng makeup. That’s ironically not the way to get an agent’s attention. We need to be able to see your natural beauty: raw, unfiltered. Lastly, I send out reminders to my models about their projects coming up and update the social media accounts of Farah Models.
“No makeup, no editing. A lot of girls send photos tapos sobrang kapal ng makeup. That’s ironically not the way to get an agent’s attention.”
I start getting ready for Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival Day 3. Tonight, my models Rose, Riona, Mara, Nazza, Mirtle are walking. This is the next pillar I want to focus on, really. It’s runway. A lot of people don’t realize that before walking at a fashion show, you need to learn how to walk like a model. Back in my modeling days, I remember Inno Sotto setting aside three hours every Sunday to teach models who would appear in his shows how to walk. Even professionals made it a point to regularly attend. And, evidently, if you look at those who trained with Inno Sotto, you’ll spot the difference. Look at the way runway veteran Ria Bolivar walks. That girl was trained by Inno. Same with Justine Gabionza. Models today must aspire to have the same level of discipline: even if you’ve established yourself in the industry as a runway model, you still need to keep training.
The night kicks off with the 2018 SoFA Graduation Show and I stay for the Junca Hair Show and collections by Jandra Babiera, Reynier Abello, Neon Island, Arin, Garage Menswear, Teofila, Mark Tamayo and Eve. Afterwards, I meet with my models who participated in the shows.
via Farah Ramos on Facebook
Designers that show at events like Manila Fashion Fest have around 10 minutes each on the runway. It’s brief. After the showcase, it’s back to regularly scheduled programming. People don’t realize the months of hard work leading up to those 10 minutes: the months of designing, prototyping, going back to the mood board, the sleepless nights, the moments of doubt, the courage it takes to share a part of yourself with an audience.
“People don’t realize the months of hard work leading up to those 10 minutes.”
Similarly, people overlook the fact that modeling is a legitimate profession simply because the bankable quality here is someone’s physical appearance. They assume that if you’re pretty, you can be a model. That’s what it’s all about; that’s all it takes. Little do they know that the call time for Manila Fashion Festival today, for example, was 9.30 AM. This was for a show that started at 6.00 PM and was over in a couple of minutes. Modeling is so much more than having a pretty face. It requires a professional attitude, serious training, a good work ethic and the perseverance to power through the unglamorous parts of the job.
“Modeling is so much more than a pretty face.”
Cover photo Ernest John Tamana
Art Alexandra Lara