Arguably the granddaddy of them all, Jim South's World Modeling, has been in business for 29 years. The process used to be simple: South would place ads in 15 Southern California-area newspapers and wait for the calls to roll in. Girls would come to the office to take Polaroids that would make their way into an agency book, which shooters then peruse to choose their talent. But since moving the business online nine years ago, South noted that "everything has changed."
"It's definitely changed how you get talent — now they email or contact you directly," South said. "Running ads is almost useless now. We went from running ads in 15 newspapers, and now we're down to three. Everyone comes from the site or based on recommendations from other models."
No More Casting Calls
South notes that he used to assist in setting up casting calls for movies, but that's no longer necessary now that production companies have the ability to go directly to the site to see pictures and pertinent details on all of the girls that are available for hire.
"Once they make a list of who they like, we work it out with them if we're going to deal with them and begin to cast their people," South explained. "It definitely means less traffic in the office. When talent would openly come into the office, the girls would sit around here during the day and would run into casting people coming in. It still happens a little bit, but nothing like it used to."
One might think that moving the business model online would make recruitment easier, but not necessarily, South added.
"It has and it hasn't made it efficient," he said. "Sometimes we get pictures, and sometimes we don't. Sometime so many emails fill our inbox that we can't get to them all. I'd prefer to go back to the old way. In most cases the caster has a chance to see the girl rather than picking her off a site. They meet a little ahead of time where they'd get a chance to get some harmony going — where they understand each other. The Internet seems to be a colder way to do it, but maybe that's because I'm from the old school."
While some might argue that the online aspect of running a talent agency cuts down on the personal relationship aspect of the job, James DiGiorgio, manager of Bad Girl Modeling, disagreed.
"This is still a business about relationships, but relationships can begin online," DiGiorgio said. Bad Girl launched in January and has already gained a stable of nine girls, such as Kelly Taylor, Nikita Lea and Jamie Cortez. DiGiorgio notes that the Internet has already proven itself to be invaluable as part of his business model, connecting him with talent worldwide.
"Being online allows us to reach an international audience. We have one girl who just flew into San Francisco, and she's from Germany.
I don't know how else we would've been able to find her if it weren't for us being online," DiGiorgio said, adding that it's also of value for landing their clients work. "It allows people who want to engage in the services of our models to see who we have and if they want to hire them. One of our new girls, Maya, has been getting tons of work, and about 80 percent of her bookings have been though online contacts."
But DiGiorgio doesn't just use the Internet for promoting his business — he also uses it to recruit potential clients.
"That's not to say that I'm lurking in chat rooms," he said, laughing. "What I'm doing is going to modeling sites where models put their portfolios up and indicate the limits of their content. If they check off adult content or erotic performer, those are the ones I contact."
In part two we'll look at recruiting hardcore talent. Stay tuned!