Dan Grant, Publisher
Despite the denials of many an insecure agent, models are not property. Contracts get thrown around to suggest otherwise, but in Canada you can't claim ownership of someone the way you can a car or a dress. The sense of possessiveness some agents feel just because they – or someone they work with – talked someone else into signing a contract is almost completely unfounded. The ones that cry about someone else stealing their models should realize that models don't get stolen... they leave.
When models aren't happy they have every right explore other options. There's nothing that says a legitimate agency can't listen to a model who feels she/he is being poorly managed elsewhere.
Yes, there are shitty agents who boast about being more successful than they are, and yes it's truly a shame if someone gets suckered into signing a contract with an agency that can't live up to their claims.
Losing models -- it happens to all of us, but the ones who lose the most are usually the same ones that weren't honest about what they could produce in the first place. I feel no sympathy for them.
In the last 15 years, as the internet has created new ways for agencies to tell you about themselves before you've even asked, it's become increasing difficult to discern good from bad. Lesser agencies, for instance, can make themselves appear much more grand by blogging photos of models they have the rights to, even if they've never booked them (never met them... never talked to them). To me that's cheating.
There's no rulebook of course, but there is an unwritten code that most agencies at least pretend to adhere to, and it says legitimate firms won't knowingly solicit a model that's working with another agency. That's called poaching, and it reeks of desperation. Sometimes agencies are desperate to sell you something. Sometimes they're desperate to get bookable models on their roster. Either way, you don't want to be with a desperate agency.
I was recently contacted by CBC Vancouver about an agency that is allegedly engaging in some pretty desperate scouting practices. I won't name them, lest anyone believe these tactics are unique to this particular agency. Instead, I would rather share the tactics of an agency so desperate it doesn't respect what most in the industry would consider legitimate business practices.
Those warnings are found in Part II.