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Casting for top WA talent

WITH the absence of big name fashion magazines and fashion shows Perth’s modelling agencies compete for the work found within the confines of Perth’s advertising industry.

Advertising agencies are constantly hiring Perth-based people to appear in anything from television commercials to product promotions and it is not just about good looks.

Several of Perth’s modelling agencies have “casting books” that features photographs of people aged one year to retirees. They are fat, thin, freckly, bold, attractive or average looking.

However, industry experts told WA Business News that there was also a good deal of interest from international and eastern States clients for good-looking Perth faces.

The recent entry of glamour agency Chadwick Perth last week has generated renewed interest in the Perth modelling scene.

With several companies operating with exclusive agreements and holding long-established relationships with Perth advertising executives it would seem Chadwicks has a long road ahead in securing a good stable of good looking talent.

However, its founder Peter Chadwick said he believed his brand was already wooing over many Perth-based models.

The WA modelling agency scene consolidated just over a year ago when Gemma’s and Carberry’s were acquired by publicly-listed Blink and renamed Scene Model Management.

Carberry’s were operating the Chadwick name under a franchise agreement with Mr Chadwick.

However, with the amalgamation of two companies under one banner the franchise deal came unstuck over franchising fees.

Scene Model Management became one of Perth’s largest modelling agencies rivalling Vivien’s and Spiers.

It also incorporates a healthy stable of actors under the banner Actors Plus and, according to Scene Model Management stylist Des Eddy, local casting work is important.

“We don’t have high fashion here. We don’t have Vogue, though I wish we did,” he said.

“But it’s largely bridal magazines. We do a lot of casting work.” 

“There are so many different areas for casting work and we have a range of different looks for it.

“It may be a politically correct TV ad and they want an individual for it.

“Paul Entwhistle was one of our models. Now look where he is. He is now presenting on Postcards WA.”

Paula Abbott-Etherington operates Regal Modelling and Casting Agency, a smaller agency that has existed in Perth for 12 years.

Ms Abbott-Etherington said her business was won through government tenders and repeat business from eastern State-based promotional companies.

“We win quite a few tenders. There is a lot of work to provide everyday-looking people,” she said.

“Who can provide the talent if they are looking for 40 or 50-year-olds?

“We are Regal real people. Most of the work we do is with everyday people. From one-year-olds to as old as you can get.

“We have a lot of repeat business and it can vary from season to season.

“We deal with a lot of promotional companies from the eastern States.

“We do things like provide models for the V8 supercar series and we do some work for Rally Australia.

“The car companies contact us direct and we provide talent for them.

“Casting is the biggest proportion. We would do that 10 months of the year.

“Modelling is very seasonal with a big spurt on Melbourne Cup day.

“Promotional work takes place all year round from point of sale merchandise to gala dinners.”

Advertising industry executives are searching for a certain look and therefore modelling agencies need to provide a comprehensive list.

So how do the agencies attract and retain the talent?

Vivien’s Perth manager Christine Fox said offering good conditions and having good business relationships with its models the agency had a depth of variety and talent.

“We pay our models weekly. When they do a job they get paid the week after,” she said.

“Some agencies don’t pay them for two, six or eight weeks,” she said.

“That’s one of our major selling points and we’ve done that from day dot.”

Vivien’s entered the Perth market six years ago and operates slightly differently from its eastern seaboard offices. 

“We do a bit of everything in Perth but in Sydney or Melbourne there is no casting division,” Ms Fox said.

“Modelling is the core function though.

“Vivien’s market research over the years led her to open in Perth because some of the girls she sourced here were really good and she decided to cut out the middle man.

“Chadwicks, they are a competitor. But we have been established for six years in Perth and you are only as good as your models.”

Chadwicks have entered Perth on the same premise – that Perth has a good wealth of modelling talent.

However, Mr  Chadwick insisted that poaching had not been taking place.

“I’ve never believed in poaching,” he said.

“We are a national well-known name. It is very much a word of mouth. When one girl comes in she tells all of her friends and so on. We have 18 on the books and that is quite good for two days of operation.”

 “Perth is a small market but over the years there has been some fantastic girls that have come out of Perth,” he said.

“We have had affiliates with Perth and worked under an alliance.”

When that alliance came to an end Mr Chadwick decided Perth was too attractive a market not to be active in and was here last week to launch the Perth office. And it seems a matter of time before Chadwicks dabbles in the Perth casting market.

“We will eventually do casting,” Mr Chadwick said.

Ms Abbott-Etherington said developing an online system had helped generate more business for Regal Modelling and Casting Agency.

“We don’t use the books any more. I think I was the first agency to do that. We launched it three months ago and it has increased our exposure ten-fold. It is constantly updated and it is open to the public,” she said.

“Being a small agency I don’t have an entourage of people to manage things and go out to the clients and update the books.”

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