Heading to somewhere in Asia on a contract? Theres some things you need to know before you set off on your trip.
So you got offered to go international on a guaranteed contract. First of all well done!
A contract in the modelling world can be amazing. Your overseas Agency essentially offers you a fixed amount for a fixed number of days irrespective of how much work you book during your stay.The agency is betting how much work you will book and takes the risk with the intention of generating a minimum of this amount of work for you. If you book a lot of work it is possible to earn more than the fixed amount. There are a few things to look out for.
There are two types of contracts in asia:
This is the amount you will earn before expenses and agency commission. Because it is the amount you get before any expenses are taken out it can often be difficult to know how much you will get in hand. You really want some transparency here. Be sure to ask questions like: How much commission will the agency take? What are all the expenses you will have?
Be sure to try and get exact numbers for ALL the expenses you will incur. And do the math yourself, what will you get in hand at the end? A failure to do this may result in you going home empty handed!
Example. You go to Tokyo on a $7000 USD Gross contract.
Your expenses are $3000 USD (Flights, Driver, Rent, Allowance etc…)
And your agency charges you a 50% commission.
Net payment to you will be: (7000 – 50%)-2500 = $1000 net.
The is a contract with the amount the agency will pay you after expenses and agency commission. This is probably the ideal situation for modelling overseas on contract. This way you know the amount you will get in-hand after you have finished your time with them. Be sure to confirm that this is intact a fully net contract.
Example. You travel to Tokyo on a $7000 USD Net contract.
Your expenses might be $3000 USD (Flights, Driver, Rent, Allowance etc…)
And your agency charges you a 50% commission.
Net payment to you will be $7000 USD
(All the expenses and commission has already been taken before the agency quoted that amount.)
- Generally contracts span about 60 days in Tokyo or Seoul. They sometimes are longer or shorter (6 weeks up to 3 months) And in china they go from 30 days – 60 days -90 days. You want a contract that will reflect the amount of time that you are gone and will be profitable for that length of time. Unless you are just starting out, then you may be travelling to Asia mainly to strengthen your portfolio, in which case you are aiming to get good photos and may not make money in your stay.
- A GROSS contract is not always bad. As long as you know ALL your expenses and the agency commission percentage before signing the contract. And as long as there is a legal document stating that these will be your only expenses, and that they are the exact calculations. Then do the maths and you could still have a profitable trip.
- Be sure to thoroughly read and re-read your contract before signing it. If you don’t understand any of the clauses ASK.
- NEVER sign a contract that you do not FULLY understand.
- Ask someone who you trust to read through the contract with you. (I always get my Dad to read through contracts before I sign them, he has a better idea of the legal jargon then I do.)
- Ask what your minimum requirements are for fulfilling your side of the agreement. (Some contracts state you must receive a certain number of bookings within your first 14 days. )
- Carefully read all the clauses. You don’t want to break any of the requirements and come home empty handed.
- Ask other models about their experience. If you know other models who have travelled to that country and were signed to the same agency, ask them about their experience. Did they like the agency? Did they get what they were promised? What was it like working over there?
- Keep a copy of your contract after signing, so that you can reflect on it whilst away to be sure you do not break your contract.
- Be careful with your diet, a major diet change in inevitable in a new country. But beware, Some contracts will specify that if you gain or lose 2cm+ from/to your measurements, they can legally terminate your contract and you will go home with nothing.
- If you have any issues whilst away on contract, bring them up with your mother agency before raising them with your overseas agent. Your mother agent will know how best to deal with any given situation.
- If you break your contract e.g. Did not book required number of jobs in certain timeframe.
Talk to your mother agent, staying after breaking your contract will only increase your expenses, likely the overseas agency won’t let you know. You may end up owing the agency money, instead of earning some.
By taking precautions you are much less likely to go home empty handed and disappointed.
I personally have travelled to Asia (South Korea & Japan) on contract on 4 different occasions. Always on a NET Contract. And I have experienced a few different results.
On one occasion I earned more than my contract promised and so I went home with more in my pocket than expected. (Earning over expected amount are subject to a deduction of agency commision). I was a very happy chappy.
On one occasion I earned the exact amount as predicted and went home with my agreed amount in-hand.
On another occasion i earned under the amount my contract was for, but I still went home with the agreed net contract amount.
And on my most unfortunate occasion, at the end of my trip my the agency processed my contract payment as if it were a Gross contract. Although I had travelled there thinking it was in fact a net contract. They went as far to edit emails and lie about it. It was obviously a mistake at their end but it was all very disappointing and uncomfortable for me. Yes, I did still go home with a good amount of cash but it was about 30% less than I had agreed to, and there was nothing I could do about it.
I learnt my lesson, be 100% sure about the terms you are agreeing to in a contract and check twice, or three times that you are on the same page.