Becoming a model – Today we met with CM Models agency owner Stephan Czaja. He has built one of the leading modeling agencies in a very short time 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 commercial productions. So today we wanted to ask 7+1 questions about becoming a model! Above all, we want to know: What must a model bring along? How to become a model? How do jobs for Instagram, Youtube& differ? Co.? At the end there are 3 tips for your next model casting from the expert.
– Advisor on CM Models – XXL Interview in FIV Magazine – Modeling in New York, Paris& Co
Model Scouting: What a model must be able to do?
Editorial – 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 matters 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 the job of a model. A positive attitude, a friendly demeanor, a good mood and of course a smile, even after a long and exhausting day of shooting. In big cities like Paris, Milan and London there are 5 or 6 castings a day. That means stress, especially when a model is in big cities like Berlin, London, Paris or even New York for the first time. It gets even more extreme in Asian megametropolises like Shanghai, Beijing or Seoul. Millions of people, foreign language, who works here as a model for the first time at the age of 17 or 18, has a lot to deal with. That’s why you should start as early as possible, preferably at the age of 15, 16 years.
In the beginning everything starts very easy. If you send your application to model agencies early enough, you have enough time to gain experience, for example, in your first photo shoots with photographers, in your first model jobs and, if all the conditions are right, also in your first short trips abroad, for example, jobs at Paris Fashion Week, Instagram shoots in Lisbon or city shoots in London. Most jobs in Germany for models are in Berlin and Hamburg.
Photo – CM Models New Faces, Women (Klara [Milan] Laura [Dusseldorf] and Anni [Paris])
Photo – CM Models New Faces, men (Darcy [Zurich] and Franck [London])
As a model you have a lot of free time compared to a normal 9-to-5 job. When jobs come up, however, there are sometimes very stressful days: flight, hotel, production, there’s a lot for models to deal with. Accordingly, as a model you should Second: Be an independent, self-confident person. In addition, the bigger the jobs become, the bigger the teams and, of course, the client’s investment 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, specially cordoned off airport area. The moment for models to prove what they can do.
Accordingly, the path from the build-up to such castings and jobs is long. The road is long, but it’s worth it!
Then, thirdly, ambition and motivation are also important. As a model, you need to have the ambition to constantly improve, as well as the motivation and 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 recording or. the model contract in a big model agency like ours.
Become a model: Requirements and minimum size
Editorial – Away from the model’s looks and characteristics, when is the perfect age to start modeling?? How tall do you have to be as a model?
Stephan Czaja – You should start with modeling at the age of 15, 16 years. Finally, it still needs structure, especially concerning the just discussed personality but above all the own model portfolio. In the model portfolio, models collect their best photos from jobs and from photo shoots with good photographers. So the client has a quick overview of what you have already done and how versatile you can be as a model.
The more diverse the shots, the more facets you show, the higher the chance of getting good jobs. The build-up takes 2, 3 years, accordingly one should start early, best already in the school time with it, as said with 15 years, 16 years.
Good model agencies make sure that the focus stays 100% on the school. However, parallel already the first Shootings can be arranged, a few small jobs can be made, the first experiences to collect. If one then with 17 years, 18 years the school successfully terminates, the career can start. Those who have the right qualifications as a model can then work in the major metropolises that New York, Los Angeles, Paris or even London.
Application and interview
Editorial – 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 shoot! We recommend a simple cell phone, daylight and preferably mom, dad or friends to take some quick photos.
On the photos you should be seen as a model absolutely natural, as I said, that means besides make-up and styling also no posing! Look frontally into the camera, once with opened hair, then with closed hair, with a serious look, then a smile. The frontal as a portrait and once from the side. That was it! That’s all you need for a good model application. In the next step you send your photos to the model agency. Here one of the model scouts will look at your photos and if it fits for the agency, you usually get within 7 days a feedback from the model agency or. from the model scout.
Editorial – 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. plays in the selection at the casting resp. of the model application does not matter. But if you work as a model later, followers already help 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 at the casting or. E-Casting.
This means that followers do not yet play a role in the model application, but in later jobs they can be helpful to get the job.
Model Jobs: Modeling for Instagram, Youtube and TikTok
Editorial – Every job is different from video shooting for Youtube to photo shooting for Instagram: How different are the requirements in the various fields? Where do the quality and skills of the models differ?
Stephan Czaja – When it comes specifically to work for social media content, photos for Instagram are in proportion for young models the easiest. After all, the classic work of models are photo shoots. However, when it comes to moving images, whether Instagram Stories or videos for a posting, it becomes more challenging. Often small, initial procedures must be learned, sometimes also texts. In addition not one story is produced, but 20.
I think the most complex at the moment are unboxing videos and product presentations. In 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’s all about are the emotions that arise when unpacking, joy, amazement, but also the discovery. Who works here on time pressure, z.b. in a video production, who has to remember relatively many details, from certain brand names to product names, processes, directions of gaze. When a scene can only be played once, so that the emotions are real, everything has to fit right away.
For this you need real professionals, that’s why there are 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 process
Editorial – You organize many model castings for jobs, how does such a casting work??
Stephan Czaja – Castings are relatively unspectacular, often directly in the agency and if it is larger, gladly also in a warehouse. Depending on the job, up to 150 models gather in front of the entrance. In the reception area, each model is given a number when they sign up and are then called either by number or by name. Most castings go relatively quickly, in the foreground is the appearance of the model and of course the personality, z.b. by a smile and joy at work! Each model introduces itself briefly, shows the own photo folder and then it is already called: Next!
The further procedure of castings is depending on the job quite individual. If we were doing a casting for a fashion show, the next step would be fitting. Here models try on the clothes, the big question: do the selected parts fashion collections fit the model? If necessary, changes can be made or another model gets the chance.
If it were a casting for social content or a commercial, small live scenes are often played, sometimes short videos are also recorded for the customer, for example when only employees from marketing are on site. With such Casting thus already a small acting achievement is demanded. Of course not a complex scene, it’s just to see if the model can slip into a certain role. For fashion customers, you usually stay just as you are, that’s enough for a shoot. But when you z.b. If you are advertising a certain chocolate bar or a car brand, then you also need acting talent. Sometimes you are the daredevil, then the shy one or the business woman in the sports car.
Casting tips: How to get the job
Editorial – What can you recommend to models for their next audition? Do you have tips for young models and their first casting in a social media or. Have an advertising agency?
Stephan Czaja – The first good tip I can give is to always be confident. Especially for young models it is difficult to cope with the big competition at the 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 Fashion Week. This is where a young model quickly realizes how big the competition is. At this moment, as a model, you must not become shy or reserved, because it will show in your facial expressions and gestures. But you want to radiate positive energy, joy and good humor! Then exactly for this customers book models. Of course, there are jobs where you have to be serious as a model, but backstage at the production, the teams always have fun and want positive people on the production set.
The second tip is definite: never forget to smile. Especially after a long day, with many castings and many models to get to know as a marketing or creative director, I personally am also always struck by how refreshing a smile can be. Especially if five candidates in front of you had a serious look, it’s a simple smile that you can use to attract additional attention.
Tip number three is, as always, preparation! Whoever prepares well for a model casting, meets the customers, knows what the job will be about, has already achieved a lot. If you are then spontaneously asked a question such as "why do you want to model for our brand??"you should have a good answer ready. In addition, when casting, make sure that you look as natural as possible. For models this means no make-up, no styling, plain black clothes. Female models should also have a black bikini and high heels with them, also in black. These are my tips for your next casting, maybe we will see each other someday.
Editing – Thanks for the answers!
Video – Nike commercial with Louisa and Lisa @ CM Models