Joe MacMillan
Hi-Fi's Joe MacMillan

Joe MacMillan

October 17, 2021

When you arrive to a new, fresh location, there's some sort of great energy that flows through you. Even though you spent the last few days and nights in the prior location saying goodbye, packing, taking care of any issues, workings through balances and spreadsheets regarding your payment, partying, etc. There's still this great feeling when you land, and you're not tired at all. I've been in Shanghai for the last week, and I'm still running on that boost. I was here for five months before, beginning a year ago. It was my first trip, and I learned as I went, because even though I had modelled locally in Edmonton for a few years, I hadn't ever travelled as a full-time model before. The Asian market is quite different from North American style markets, and I'll try to share some tricks of the trade.

If you have big feet, like I do, never write your real size on the casting sheet. You're only going to get size 43, and you're going to need to squeeze into those, so you might as well just write that on the sheet. I made the mistake of writing my real size (47) on my casting information sheets for a short while last time, before getting some feedback from my bookers that I had lost out on multiple catalogues just because of that.

Clients love when you jump in the castings here. You will get jobs if you do some Lacoste-campaign style 'posing.' You're going to be told 'Sport Pose!', 'Big Pose!', 'Cool Face', 'Happy!'. Watch the Brazilians to learn 'Sport Pose', I believe they have a patent pending on it. It's when they do the frozen-in-time-flexed-running pose... for 'Big Pose', you'll want to be jumping all over the place, and keep a smile on that face while you do it. 'Cool Face' is simply 'Blue Steel' from Zoolander, or, if the clothes seem a little less edgy than usual, go with 'LeTigre' or 'Ferarri' instead. 'Happy!' means 'Look happier than you ever have in your entire life!'. Sometimes they'll tell you; "Show your posing." This means, even though they have no camera, they want to see how you pose, so you stand there and change poses as many times as you can, with them watching, until he says 'okay'. If you can get these concepts down, you'll be prepared... well, at least for the castings.

The jobs are something else. I'm currently waiting for the duration of twelve hours for a fashion show to start. We had to arrive for the fitting at 9:00 a.m., and the show is at 9:00 p.m. This is normal for China. You're going to do at least five rehearsals for the show, each time changing something new. It's extremely rare to have European style fashion shows, where you walk straight, turn and walk back. No, this apparently doesn't appeal to the taste of Asia, where they have you posing five times, changing directions, walking dogs, giving people high fives or offering flowers to other models, all on the runway.

For catalogues, be prepared to jump all day. By the end of the day - once all the clothes have been photographed, which most of the time is around 150 outfits in a matter of eight hours - you've changed more than you've posed. They're going to start 'mix-n-matching' with you until your time is up. They'll get you wear some of the strangest clothing combinations you've ever worn, but don't fret... it's normal. The best paying work in Asia is generally TV commercials, which are always a ton of fun. I must say, my favorite jobs so far have been of the TVC variety. Most of the time, extreme overacting is the skill that is required. When they tell you that you have to act like a giant shark has bitten into your sailboat, in the middle of the ocean, and you're scared... but still a little happy, make sure to sell it.

Some things you'll see in Shanghai? Well, you'll probably witness some driving that may startle you at first (assuming you've never been in a demolition derby). Also, make sure to head to the busier clubs on a Friday night, such as M2 or M1NT. You'll be able to tell people at home that you know what it feels like to be bumped into and pushed from all three-hundred-and-sixty degrees, to the point where either your ribcage collapses, or your feet are no longer touching the ground and you're caught in a levitating state, somewhat between standing on the ground and a crowdsurf.

In all seriousness though, the city of Shanghai is amazing. The Pudong skyline, viewed from across the river (The Bund), is quite impressive and beautiful at night time. I found Bar Rouge's rooftop view to be the perfect place to bring your camera for some gorgeous shots. The buildings vary almost seamlessly from modern skyscrapers and theatres to old churches, especially in areas around People's Square. There's plenty to see, and even just wandering around, looking around is sure to be a great time. Bring your camera. Venturing outside of the downtown area, you'll see a slew of gardens and a lot of housing that has been demolished and/or in the early stages of rebuilding, which you can wander through, no questions asked.

Last time I was here, the city of Shanghai was preparing for The World Expo 2010, which is here currently. They were cleaning up the city, and now that I'm here once again, I can see that they did quite a good job. The first time I was here, it was much dirtier and demolished than it is now. The fact that there are more than 18 million people in the city makes going to 'popular hangouts' seem like you've walked into a rock concert or a nightclub. Places like Nanjing Lu, the popular pedestrian shopping street, are more crowded than anything I could imagine before leaving my small Alberta town with it's population of 2,500 on a busy day.

I truly love this city though, and although it seems like I'm taking an occasional comedic jab at the market, it's not mean-spirited. I work quite well here in Shanghai, and clients have remembered me from last time and rebooked me already, which is fantastic. The experience is something you need to have a sense of humor about, and being able to laugh and let things slide instead of getting upset over them has proved to be a valuable trait. When you see something ridiculous, or you're told to do something that just doesn't seem 'normal' you've got to laugh instead of stressing over it, and you'll be fine. The city itself is incredible, and you're sure to see things that you've never seen before.

Joe MacMillan is an Hi-Fi model, currently in China.


Blogs We Follow

Dana Drori (BlackBook blog)

Cailin Hill (The Model Burnbook)

Liis Windischmann's (14+ LouLou blog)

Ania Boniecka (A n i a . B)

Kyla Love (thevulgareye)

Laura Kell (Glamazoned)

Jasmine Foster (A Model Student)

Nadine McAdam (fearlesslyfloating)

Madison Schill (Chic Greek Geek)

Britt Schafer (Quiddity)

Shawn Dezan (motivated//ambition)

Kelly Bean (Bean Around The World)