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There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don't Understand Your Modeling Contract? Tips You Should Follow BEFORE Signing

Ah, the almighty modeling contract. Obtaining agency representation is the ultimate goal for a majority of those that want to get into the industry professionally and having a contract secured is the first step towards reaching those goals. However, one of the biggest mistakes newbies can make is signing without understanding what they're agreeing to.

Some of the worst cases I've heard from those who have reached out to me for advice and assistance have to do with contracts. I feel so bad for those individuals because 9 times out of 10, I can't really help them at all because it's all after the fact.

Folks, signing on that dotted line is a serious business decision and obligation. This applies to underage models as well, namely, the parents. Once you've put that signature down, the options for trying to get out of the contract are dramatically decreased. Models get "stuck" in contracts all the time but I hope this post will prevent this from happening to others.

Below are some basic "dos" that should be followed before grabbing a pen and signing a modeling contract.

Take The Contract Home and Read It

All legitimate modeling agencies will allow and encourage prospective models to take a copy of the contract home to review on their own time. A deadline for when to return the contract signed (or to decline the offer) will be given and varies from agency to agency. Usually only a few days are allowed so don't expect them to let you take it home and get back to them in a week or a month from now.

Remember, there are many others dying to have that contract in their hands so dillydallying isn't good BUT that doesn't mean you should rush through the pages and start signing. Read the contract front to back and then read it several more times.

Make a Photocopy & Start Dissecting

Chances are you're not going to understand everything contained in a modeling contract and that's normal. I highly recommend making a photocopy of the contract in its entirety and using the copy (not the original) to make direct notes. Highlight terms, clauses and anything else you don't understand or need clarification on. Make notes in the margins with any questions that automatically pop into your head so you don't forget them later on.

Research, Research, Research!

Now that you've got your questions and other factors highlighted on your copy, start investigating! The Internet is a obvious resource for looking up terms/lingo and many topics discussed in the contract itself. Know someone that's in the industry? Pick their brain, too (I'm one of those people and I'm more than happy to lend a hand if I can).

The goal is to try and get as many answers on your own as you can. Don't forget to keep track of the info you've learned so that you know which parts of the contract still need answers and which parts you're clear on.

Ask the Agency for Further Clarification

At this stage in the game, do not let the agency intimidate you into pretending like you know everything about the contract if you really don't. Understand that agencies expect you to be new to most, if not all, of the stuff being thrown at you...they're expecting you to have questions and concerns. In these instances, it is absolutely okay to reach out and call or email your contact at the agency to ask for further explanation about anything mentioned in the contract.

The agency you sign with is a business partner that you'll be working closely with so take advantage of the fact that they are now accessible to you. Any reputable agency will welcome questions and be more than happy to provide insight and answers until you are 100% comfortable with signing.

Have an Attorney Review the Contract

Really want to cover all your bases? Then hire an attorney to review the contract for you. This doesn't mean you're taking the agency to court or taking any legal action. Having an attorney check things out is basically a way to have a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes look over everything to make sure that the contract is solid, fair and a good one to sign.

This step is optional and not mandatory. Do NOT tell the agency that you had an attorney look the contract over--that's not necessary for them to know and it wouldn't be seen very favorably, either. If you decide to have an attorney review your contract, make sure to choose a legal professional with experience/specialization in entertainment law. Why? Because this means they regularly deal with contracts that relate to models, actors, musicians, athletes, etc. and will already be familiar with what these types of contracts contain.

Would you hire a divorce lawyer to represent you in a case that has to do with tax law? Of course not, because the divorce lawyer wouldn't have a clue as to what the tax laws are all about. Not all attorneys are the same and not all of them have any specific knowledge about the entertainment industry. Can't find anyone that specializes in entertainment law? Then seek a legal professional that at least has experience with contracts that are similar to what you're dealing with. This will be evident once you start searching for local attorneys and get more familiar with the types of work they do.

All you need to tell them is that you have a modeling contract and would like them to go over it to make sure it is legitimate and contains content that is favorable to your situation as it relates to being represented for modeling. That's all you need from them.
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This all sounds like a lot, I know, but trust me, it's better to go through all this now and have the confidence needed to sign the contract without any regrets, versus being too eager or intimidated and signing a document that you'll later be dying to get out of.

Don't make the mistake of asking questions AFTER you sign the contract because then it'll be too late. Even with an exit clause, models who want to get out of a contract they regret signing typically have to wait until a portion of their contract term has passed, which could be a few months or even a year--and that's an experience no model should have to go through.

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