Tuesday, 13 December 2011

LA Bound in 3 weeks



I am finally returning back to the States to the heart of LA and back to Hollywood in just 3 weeks now. I have been back in the UK for 5 months and it is time I return to continue the adventure across the pond, to pursue my ambitions of succeeding over there and to also continue my relationship there too.

I have worked a lot back here, which has definitely stood me in good stead for what the future holds, building my confidence up to tackle the tough LA market and also has helped strengthen my wallet too!!! Something that should never be underestimated, as it costs a lot of money to make a success in new countries and markets, as you have to build yourself up from level 1 all over again. I hope that I can hit the ball running as soon as I get out there.



I will hope to get back to some football coaching and also hope to get back playing at some point too when my strength in my knee is back. I will never be able to play to the extent I was playing at the start of this year in the states, but I certainly hope to play a fair bit still. I will also look to invest some money to improve my showreel again and to improve my portfolio even more when I arrive in the states. What will help a lot on my return is the experience I had going out there at the beginning of 2011. Although this wasn't the most successful trip in regards work, I know I have built the foundations and know exactly what to expect and what I need to do in-order to be successful there.

A lot of hard work, a great deal of networking and an enormous amount of self motivation is needed to ensure that I can be a success in such a great city.



Back to the world where the serious stars live, including the two above!!! Back to LA Lakers time where my love of basketball comes out! Can't wait to get back watching it with friends over there and next time I'm at the game I will spend more time watching it than all the celebrities sat in the front row!!! ha ha Though sometimes they don't mind a sneaky picture as I've shown before...



First stop for me before LA is a trip to Toronto, Canada, a country I have never been to before! Really exciting to see a new place as you can imagine, though I have no doubt its going to be absolutely freezing!!!!!!

Monday, 12 December 2011

New Pictures - Always useful to keep your portfollio updated



It's always very important to keep your portfolio updated with recent pictures and to add some variety where possible to it as well. Also, as we get older we do start to change a bit as well (I know nobody likes to ever admit to this! Me included). Just to refresh your book can often change how you feel yourself about your book too. I am someone who always needs a boost in confidence every now and then to make me realise that I am doing the right thing in the industry. Also, its great when you can get some new images in your book to make you feel more confident showing your book to clients.

The first picture is an updated body shot, something that is needed in my portfolio to show that my body and conditioning has improved which is obviously better for me. And before anyone says it, no air brushing at all ha ha. I have worked hard the past couple of months, watching what I eat and cutting down the carbs. Lunch for me always used to consist of a sandwich, without fail. Every single day. That's now stopped, as has the midweek pasta, potatoes and rice consumptions. Add that to some more direction in the gym and its led to me getting into the best shape of my life.



This picture above was shot in the freezing cold on the banks of the Thames on the same shoot as the first one. It is completely different but shows more of my personality, smiling and some movement which is great for commercial shoots. My agency in Los Angeles, Wilhelmina, are very keen on smiling, happy, energetic pictures, something that the market greatly requires over there. My agency really wants to build my portfolio up there too, so any pictures that can reflect this are perfect. This shot has a very American vibe to it.



This picture, another smiling one, again has that American vibe to it and added to a Beach style shoot with the shirt open. A shot that's not too posey, that is comfortable and confident, something that potential clients like to see.



A very campaign type shot that has the similarity in pose to the Armani ad with Mr Beckham (I said pose that was all! ha). Another body shot that will help to strengthen my book and to hit the road running in the states too.


More pictures will be updated when I have them, and hopefully I will be able to gain some more work shots too from some of the jobs I have recently done. These are again very important to have in your book to show clients.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I feel like a Juggler



In today's economic climate, work is at a premium and that especially applies for the entertainment industry and for actors and models. That is why so many people have to take on another job to be able to survive. I've done Roofing that earned me just £50 a day to try and help me keep up in a very competitive industry like modeling. The first 2 years especially in the industry are simply about survival. This is because you need to build your reputation up, your image, your client base and also build your portfolio too. It is not as simple as many make out to get in the industry and to very importantly sustain the work to continue being in the industry. It takes time, money and a lot of sacrifices to achieve this and also another job to support yourself.

I landed on my feet with my presenting job at Smartlive, but it becomes very difficult sometimes trying to juggle both modeling and presenting. The presenting is pretty settled and in a shift format each and every month, but with modeling it can often chop and change the day before. The presenting work is less flexible now, due to the company clamping down on shift changes. As frustrating as this is, I completely understand that the company wants to ensure they come first. But flexibility has been needed in the past to ensure I can make my shoots. This has changed in the recent 8 weeks and I have been just getting on with late nights and very much a lack of sleep too. Doing whats needed whilst the work is available for me.


(shoot from Mascot Workwear)

Long day and nights continued, but it ensured I had a fantastic month of November, culminating in a shoot for Superdrug Hair Dye. No, I didn't have to dye my hair for the job ha, just a simple shoot for the packaging of the product. It was a very nicely paid job, well at first glance anyway. What I mean by that is that the usage for the shoot was 5 years!!! This simply means that Superdrug can use my images from the shoot for the next 5 years to advertise that product. 2 or 3 years ago, this fee would have been absolutely huge and I would more than likely be lying on a tropical island right now if that was the case! But in today's very different economic climate, that is simply not the case and very rarely is anymore.



This is certainly not a post where I am complaining about the work. Like so many right now across the world, having to juggle so many aspects of their lives in order to survive and make a living, I am just one of the many. It is simply a case of doing what is necessary right now and it is the only way to go. There is no point in sitting back and waiting for something to happen, which is something I have certainly done in the past. I have that motivation right now that only I can sort and decide my future and if it requires me to continue to juggle work around and work hard for the foreseeable future then so be it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

RIP Sprite Cat



Today has been one of the hardest days of my life, having to put my cat down. He was 14 years old and we had him for over 13 and a half years. A cat or any pet for that matter becomes part of your family and something that is always around every single day. Pets are a comfort blanket for people. They give you the company that often you don't have else where. You become so close to them and look after them, are affectionate towards them and they return that pleasure.

Our family got Sprite from a rescue home when he was a kitten along with his sister (Pepsi) and their mum (Natasha) almost 14 years ago. Unfortunately Pepsi passed away when she was very young and a couple of years later Natasha went missing and never returned. So we were left with Sprite, the cat then when we first got him was scared of everyone and used to run away. But without the competition of the other cats, he became the main focus of our attention of course and soon came out of his shell and his fantastic personality came out.

I know that for many who don't have pets may not understand all my comments, but those who have certainly will. Sprite had a great personality, he was so affectionate to all he met, purring day and night and was just ultimately a very happy cat. All my friends loved him and during many classic "Bar Greeno" nights, he would sit with all the boys too, doing the rounds for as much attention as possible. Known as the "stupid cat" by some of the family (mention no names Dad) because he would hit his head on things and always run into his room for food a long time before it was ready. Just a very fun cat to have around the place.


Not my usual post but something that means a lot to me and brings about my soft side big time which is something I haven't really talked about in this post. Those that know me understand that I was extremely close to my cat and we will miss him like crazy and never forget him. The friendliest cat I have ever known, never once bit, scratched anyone.

RIP

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hardest I've worked on a shoot in my life



This week I have continued my busy period with a shoot for Fitness First down in Christchurch, Dorset. It is the second time in a couple of months that I have worked for this client, but this time was different to no other. The shoot is for the walls in the fitness centers and if you have ever been into gyms, they have pictures of people doing the activities on the walls. These range from various exercises with weights, balance boards, press ups, running, jumping etc. It meant that for 4 hours I would be working up a sweat! (which is what the client wanted).

Normally I have no problem with the exercises and it wouldn't trouble me one bit. However, with my knee still no where near recovered, this was going to be a very tricky shoot for me. Now of course I didn't have to do the job and could have turned it down for not being in the right fitness for it, but works work and I need all that I can get my hands on. Time to take some pain killers and to just get on with it, whilst being slightly careful of course, that was the attitude I took.

Some of the exercises were pretty tough to do and I certainly got my sweat on throughout. It turned out to be a great workout and that's how I treated it, "getting paid to work out" (life can't be too bad). ha. Some of the shots were re-enacting scenarios such as personal trainers and clients and you had to get into the mind set of either straining to do the exercises (so facially it looks like your working hard) and when your a personal trainer acting like that is your job. A little bit of still camera acting involved, like with a lot of shoots and of course the better you are, the more natural the pictures come out as.

Everything went great and the good thing about working with people you have worked with previously is that the atmosphere is a lot more comfortable. It relaxes everyone on the shoot, which creates a good working atmosphere on set. The creative company, CHS, are in charge of providing the studio, the photographer and ensuring the models have the right itinerary. It's nice to get in with a company like this, as they are often asked to book models for companies as well, or at least have an influence for the clients that book their jobs through them. To prove this fact, this is the 3rd time in less than 2 months I have worked with this company.

Pictures from this shoot will also come at a later date. This is a common problem with all the shoots that I undertake, that the pictures take so long to come through and are often very difficult to get hold of too.



This is one still shot I got back from the Malibu Ident which I shot back in the summer. If you have not seen it, you are just missing me answering a phone and shouting, "Taxi's here" ha ha, tough job hey ;-). Unlike the Fitness First job where I seriously was exhausted and aching for a few days after that shoot, a complete first for me ha.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Lack of Sleep but all good with Beechfield job



I am writing, which is a good sign that I managed to survive one of the most tiring days of my life. Monday I was on the casino channel from 10pm until 6am Tuesday morning. I set up camp on the sofa in the Green Room and slept for about an hour, until my horrific alarm woke me up telling me its time for my next job. That feeling when you have very little sleep, the heavy eyes, the aches and the pains were all apparent in the morning. It became even worse knowing that I have a 9 hour shoot ahead of me with new clients who I want to impress. I just felt absolutely horrific.

But I had to just suck it up and get on with it, as we all do when times get tough. I focused my mind on the fact it was one day of my life and to just forget about being tired (the mental approach is not usually the route I go for, but for this instance it was needed, and worked)



Arriving at the studio in North London, straight away the client saw me walking outside and was very friendly and smiley and chatty (a very good sign for a nice day ahead). The studio was a converted 3 story house that was absolutely fantastic for shooting in, with a real retro theme to it. I met the photographer who was absolutely brilliant, a bundle of energy, enthusiasm and most importantly humour which set the precedence for the 2 day shoot. The make up artist was nice and friendly and the stylist was a proper Northern lass from Manchester who was absolutely great. I was working on the job with 2 female models, both very nice and one of which I had worked with before in Majorca in 2008! It's always great to see models/photographers/clients that you haven't seen for a long while and catching up on stories and adventures. Sometimes give you new places to make a venture to as well.

The shoot itself was for a company called Beechfield (pictures to come soon) who are renowned for their hats. They are a Northern based company and are using pictures from the shoot for their website and posters. Very simple and relaxed shoot was to follow, with just 10 shots in total spread across 2 days. Sounds very very easy right? Well, this time I can't gloss it up and say it was hard work because it really wasn't. This was down to the excellent preparation from the client and the photographer, and the ease of the models too always helps.


That was the last 2 days, not much else to report really, just knuckling down and concentrating on getting as much work as possible, whether modeling or at the casino channel doing my presenting.

If you have any questions or comments then please feel free to post something and I will get straight back to you.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

It was the calm before the Storm - What a Busy week



First post for a couple of weeks and have no excuse for it as it has been extremely quiet throughout this month. Modeling wise there has been very few castings, which has left a lot of people struggling in the industry ad not just the models. Casting directors have also struggled, as have make up artists, stylists and photographers. The industry is in a big slump unfortunately, due to the state of the economy, where as discussed previously, companies reduce their spending on advertising, which has a big affect on my industry as you can imagine. But I have been working on the casino channel a lot, which has included a lot of late nights, to keep me ticking over.

Then all of a sudden the storm started brewing and I found myself trapped in the busiest week of my life. After a lovely trip to Leeds to catch up with some friends last weekend, I arrived to start a hectic week of presenting and modeling, with very little time in between to sleep. A couple of days presenting Sunday night and Monday evening and an early start on Tuesday morning. Tuesday I was shooting for new clothing company, Versatile Apparel. It was for their website and unrecognisable, which means my head gets cut off ha ha. I'm sure theres a few comments ready to come out after admitting that ha, but it makes the shoot very very simple. Simple poses, no hair or make up needed and not a huge amount of clothes to put on. Mainly t-shirts, shirts and trousers and a couple of ultra tight wife beaters too! (Breath in)



After another long day in the studio, it was down to Christchurch, Dorset for a shoot for Barclaycard. Long way to go for half a day shooting, but luckily it was a full day's pay and I got the opportunity to work with some great energetic and fun people. I had worked previously with the creative department for the shoot when I shot for Fitness First a couple of weeks ago, so that straight away makes you feel good and comfortable in the situation. There were 5 models in total on this shoot and we all had a lot of fun throughout the day. It was a simple shoot and we had a lot of time to chat and do our usual model behaviour...moaning. Yes, it is the way models role ha, we love a good moan about work, money, agencies etc ha.

The shoot went great though and even though customers in the hotel we were shooting in were mesmerised by what was going on, and often very distracting, the shoot was successful. This is something that happens on so many shoots away from the studio. The client and the creative team are always trying to gain the realisation to shoots, hence why they are shot in actual realistic locations. People watching and wondering in the background is something that everyone has to get on with. It often requires a lot of patience by all involved, but often causes very few problems.


My busy week was ended in the studio Friday and a nice day off to recharge my batteries for another long week ahead including a 6am finish Tuesday morning and a 9am shoot! Yes crazy! But it's times like this I just suck it up and deal with it. With the inconsistencies within the modeling industry at the moment, I need to just take advantage of work whenever I can get it.

Happy Halloween everyone

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Progress on my Knee and on my return to LA



It's been a very quiet couple of days of work, so it gave me a chance to finally drag my lazy ass down to the gym and start getting myself back into shape. It also gave me the opportunity to give my knee some TLC (well some painful TLC anyways) and to start pushing forward the recovery period on it. After extensive physio this morning, I have been told that I am making progress with my rehabilitation, which is positive, but there is still a long long way to go. It is amazing how quickly you can lose muscle in your body, I just wish you gain it as quick! (don't we all!!!)

The next stage is continuing the gym work, which includes some cycling, cross trainer, constant stretches for my leg muscles and some leg work on the weights too. I need to give my knee the support it needs from the surrounding muscles. This will also be important at the 6 week mark when I have a review of my recovery and to see if the stability is good enough to not require an operation to fix my cruciate ligament. It is again a waiting game for me. I am once again standing waiting in limbo, not knowing whether I'm coming or going. This is very very frustrating for me yet again as you can imagine!

A lot of my near future depends on whether I need this second operation or not. I have so so much unfinished business in Los Angeles, that I need to be back out there to achieve everything I have been dreaming of since moving out there. I have the motivation to tackle anything that gets in front of me and to achieve everything that I failed to do when I was there last time. So, right now the plan is to go back late December after working as much as I can here and to stick it out. It also means being reunited with my girlfriend who by the time I get out there I wouldn't have seen for over 5 months! That as you can all imagine is a long long time to be away from your other half. But thanks to the advances of technology and most of all thanks to skype, it becomes a lot easier now a days (well unless Blackberry decides to have a holiday for 3 days!).


This post is just a sole update for those asking me when I'm heading back to LA and my current situation.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Options - "It's like dangling sweets infront of a child"



I wanted to give you an insight into what options are in the modeling industry and the often frustration of them. Options are extremely common and often are used by clients to delay a decision over which talent they want to use for jobs. It is simply a shortlist. Like with any jobs, this is often the case when going through the process of employment, but imagine that on often a weekly basis? The waiting, the anticipation, the nerves, all those emotions you have when your waiting to hear about a job. This is something that I go through literally every week.

In my previous post I wrote in detail about the "Remington" casting I had and that it was for a lot of money, which for me can make the difference with so much in my life, especially with my intention to go back to Los Angeles. I was put on option for this job, and asked if I was willing to cut my hair short for the job too, which I took as a very promising sign. Then comes the waiting and trying desperately hard to put the thoughts into the back of your mind, instead of thinking about exactly what you would do with the money received for this job. If you speak to any model, they will often say the exact same thing. In their minds they are buying Ipad's, new phones, going on holiday, shopping spree, the lot. For me it is one of the most difficult areas of the industry to deal with. One job can solve so many problems in my life. One job could make the difference between flying to LA straight away, or staying here longer. That is a tough position for anyone to be in and is certainly how I feel.



A client could phone up my agency and put me on option for a job worth £100 to £100,000, with the first client to option you for the day given the first option on. This again can actually prove to be a big hindrance to the model. The reason why is that if another client (say Nintendo) wants to book you direct, and you have an option holding with (say Sony), then Nintendo has to wait for the option with Sony to be finalised or released. Do you think Nintendo wants to be waiting around for that? No. So they move on to book someone who has no options holding on them. Imagine how it feels to be the model when Sony then releases their option on you, and you have now missed out on a guaranteed job with Nintendo? Frustrating doesn't even come close to describing it.

The agency has a big role to play when it comes to options, as they must have the models best interests in mind. I would say 90%, maybe a bit higher, of the time this happens and the agency will ensure you book the guaranteed job first. However, unfortunately due to the climate of today, and the need to please and ensure the client stays booking through their agency, this doesn't always occur. It can become a very tricky time for both models and agencies when options are used.


I hope this gives you a bit of an insight into options and how they work within the industry. It's not as simple a business as people think hey?!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

BIG Remington Casting



To be this guy above....aaahhhhhhhhh I can only dream and hope. Well this guy previously worked for Remington, one of the UK's leading shaving companies, and I just had a casting for them today. Now, normally I don't write about individual castings on a regular basis, but this one was special for so many ways. First of all, it was the first casting I have had for a long while, like over 2 weeks. Sounds ridiculous right? Well luckily it is not just me in this position and after over hearing a few guys at the casting, I realised that pretty much everybody was in the same boat. (made me feel slightly better about myself as you can imagine) Secondly this casting is for a job worth an extremely good amount of money. Now, as seen previously in my blog, you would of read that money has dropped dramatically in the past 2 years and is getting worse and worse. So, you can understand my happiness at having a casting for a good amount of money.

That thing we love to have so much, that when we get it, we let go of it often very quickly, that we need to survive and cant live without it. MONEY. It is so crucial and when opportunities like this arise, it's difficult not to get your hopes up, as the money earned from this job alone could keep me going for 4 - 6 months. I always describe it as like "dangling sweets in front of a child", cause you want it, but can't quite have it just yet. Becomes tough to deal with at times, but I am very relaxed about it, and believe in "what will be will be".



OK, so back to the casting. After a hobble into town and the first time I've properly been out of the house since my operation I get to the casting in Leicester Square. In the room it was clear from the Storm, Models 1, Premier and Select books lying around that this was a "big boy" casting, which simply means the best guys in town were here (to a certain extent as always). The good thing about the casting was that it was a request. The client had seen my pictures and requested to see me, which is always nice to hear. The casting director was lovely too, which always helps make you feel more relaxed before a casting. I entered the room and was very very surprised to see a full room of approximately 10 people sitting there, lying in wait for my arrival. (sounds like I am the king or something ha) I hobble into the room and that seems to be the first topic of conversation, as the casting director started to talk about it. A nice ice breaker, better than a polar bear.......Anyways...I then had to do the usual "name and agency into camera", profiles and then shirt off and literally the same thing. This is very much the normal for castings.

Breathing in heavily and tensing up, I got through it OK and shirt was back on. The clients at this stage were passing my book around while another client spoke up about the fact that I had worked with them before. It was when I did an ident for Loose Women. I then dug deep for a bit of humour and managed this, "I remember when that came out and my friends all said they had seen it, then afterwards all used the same excuse that they were flicking through the channels and of course not watching loose women". It got a good response which was good.

That was the casting over and it is often all the time you get to impress the clients, but like the majority of modeling jobs, it isn't your personality that counts, it is all down to your look and whether the client believes you are right for their company. But leaving a good impression and to never be forgotten by the client is certainly all you can do. So fingers crossed.


Hope this gives you guys a good insight into castings a little bit more. If you have any questions about anything, or would like me to discuss anything please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Rest, Rehab and Recovery



Its been a week since I wrote anything and in all honesty it's because there hasn't been much going on in my life at all. Time is just ticking along at the moment and not much is going on. After a while of not knowing whether your coming or going, it becomes very difficult to motivate myself to start looking ahead to the future. I have been saving money to ensure I give myself the best chance to last longer when I get to LA, so I have not been going out as much either. I guess when your used to that lifestyle of going out, spending money, being extravagant, it can become hard to adapt to a different lifestyle. But that's life, and no one said it was suppose to be easy.

Anyways...importantly I had my operation on Thursday, a successful arthroscopy that helped fix my torn cartilage on both sides of my knee. It also showed that I have still got damage to my cruciate ligament, though it is still intact and theres a potential that I can help rebuild it through physio sessions. This is great news and it could mean I won't need to have another operation which would be absolutely amazing. It would solve a lot of problems and mean that I could start planning to go back to LA. So, great news!

But before I can get ahead of myself I need to rest up a lot and make sure I am doing the right rehab, which requires a lot of pain and physio work. When I say pain, I mean it trust me! I have to work on bending my leg, something that I struggle to do at the minute and every time I try to bend it more it becomes the hardest thing ever. So, a lot of work is needed and the more I can get done the better and the faster I can be back up and running again.

The resting up part has been the hardest thing so far and its only been 3 days! Boring, frustrating and feeling lonely is certainly some of my many emotions that I am going through right now. But with the support of my friends, family and knowing my girlfriend is always thinking of me helps me along the way. I haven't seen her for 2 months now and still don't know when we will next see each other, but through a lot of hard work, great communication and so many more factors, we are coping well and know we have to do what it takes to ensure everything is right for the future.

A new week around the corner and an improved motivation will start to get things moving and start looking into some more presenting opportunities in London for the next few months, so watch this space...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

An early XMAS! Shoot with Red Magazine



To brighten up this blog a bit and to brighten up my life to, I booked a small job that turned out to be one of the most fun jobs I have ever done. It was for Red Magazine and it was their Xmas edition of the magazine. Now I have to admit that before going for the job I wasn't too keen on it due to the small amount it was worth and it clashed with other work I had on. But I was extremely glad I did it.

I turned up to a studio/house in Shoreditch and the whole crew were so lovely. Very friendly from the off, which 99% of the time is the perfect sign of a relaxed day ahead. I also found out that working on the job with me was a guy I had worked with on one of my first shoots over 4 years ago. And what a great guy he is as well, the perks of my job when you get to meet and work with some very nice people.
(quick note about this guy, Matt Bailey - check out the link to his new comedy pilot called The Buffy Diaries! It is absolutely brilliant. You may need to copy and paste it, but I recommend it to all. www.rmc-design.co.uk/buffypilot )

Back to the shoot...there was a wonderfully designed table with everything Xmassy around it that you could imagine. Crackers, Xmas lights, candles, presents and even a tree in the corner!!! It was very bizarre as it was a warm September afternoon and the sun was shining outside, so slightly bizarre as you can imagine. First job to be seated at the table and toasting champagne with 6 of us. Very simple and they wanted us to drink the champagne too! Result. It was lovely as well and it didn't take us too long to finish the first bottle off! Those who know me won't be too surprised by that ha.



Next off it was on to the red wine, more toasting, smiles, laughter, which was very natural as the atmosphere amongst everyone was fantastic. Sometimes when your shooting, and the photographer asks you to smile, it's more forced and amazingly to some is quite obvious in a photo. When it's natural laughter and happiness, it looks so much better and of course, realistic too.

Xmas dinner time! And what a xmas dinner it was! The trimmings and it was edible too!!! That might sound a bit strange right? Well so often food is used in shoots as an accessory, there to look pretty as part of the detailed background to a shoot. The food is often sprayed with something to make it look shiny, and tasty, when in fact it is not edible one little bit! It's often like a tease, a temptation dangled in front of you that you can't have. So what a lovely surprise to be able to enjoy a xmas meal whilst shooting!

I'm sure so many are thinking the same thing, "this is work???". But it was. A bit of dessert later and some more snapping away by the photographer and continued laughter and that was the day complete! Seriously that was it! It made me fall back in love with the industry for a bit after recent times contemplating the whole modeling world. This is fairly common practice for me when work doesn't go as well, but there is always something that drags me back in when it seems I will "retire" from the industry.

Let's hope this will bring about a new form of confidence and happiness to move forward to the future.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Just been told, "You should never play contact sport again"



Yesterday I had my consultation with a knee specialist to finally get the ball rolling and start the proceedings. This has been holding me back from so much in my life, from work to the move back to Los Angeles, to working out properly in the gym. I was very optimistic about it all, but I know that I had seriously injured my knee 10 weeks ago. When reviewing the MRI scan it was clearly revealed that I had torn my cartilage on both sides of my knee, something that I didn't believe I had done. Also, and the main problem, is the damage to my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), which again showed up on the scan. This to anyone who doesn't know about knee problems, is a very severe injury.

After reviewing my previous problems with my other knee, that is all fine now, the specialist tells me in no uncertain terms that i shouldn't ever play contact sport again. My heart sunk completely. I have played football competitively since I was 4 years old. 23 years in the game. I had this nervous smile on my face throughout the consultation, unable to register what on earth was happening.

As pointed out by my father, I was lucky that football wasn't my career, and that I still had a lot I could do. But what people don't realise is what playing this sport actually means to me. It allows me to take out the frustrations of life on the opposition (not in a violent way) and on the ball. It is the only time where my mind is completely calm of thoughts. I have no worries about money, work, friends, family. I just concentrate on playing a game, a game that i have loved since first having a football in front of me. There is also the team side of it that people often forget. People you spend a lot of time with and they become friends of yours that you see week in week out. The banter, the jokes, the laughs all of which help me along throughout difficult times in my life. The enjoyment I have got out of playing has been incredible and when playings involved, I am always at my happiest.

Back to the operation, the next step is an operation in 2 or 3 weeks to fix my cartilage damage on both sides of my knee. The surgeon will also be able to tell me the extent of the damage to my ACL, so now I just have to wait and see about it all. The nervous times. If the ACL requires surgery, then I will need a knee reconstruction, which will lead to being on crutches for 6-8 weeks and involve a rehabilitation period of a year!!! Incredible hey?!


I have noticed recently how much negative things that I have been writing about, but unfortunately that is how I am feeling right now. Maybe it's because I want to be back in LA? Maybe it's because I am unhappy with my career? Something just quite simply is not right, and the knee problem is now adding to it. Work is very slow right now as well, so sure that is all getting on top of me. I am just hoping I can get past this recent news and not give up on a sport that has given me so many happy memories

Friday, 26 August 2011

Being at the bottom of the food chain



Every week I meet someone new who asks me what I do for a living. I openly tell them that I do TV presenting and Modeling. Their reaction is always the same to the modeling, "wow, check you out! You must have an easy life".

If this were true, this blog would be a completely different read and would probably make readers feel jealous of all the greatness going on in my working life. The truth is in the title of this blog piece, "being at the bottom of the food chain". Life in the modeling industry has changed dramatically over the last 2 or 3 years. Gone are the days of huge payments for very little work. Gone are the days of constantly travelling to exotic locations. It is a completely changing industry.

When the financial market took a massive turn for the worse 2 years ago, businesses had to cut their out goings to survive, which meant reducing their spend on advertising (where models come into play). I've spoke before about this, but it is not going away and the money is being reduced every single week it seems. We are at the bottom of the food chain, its as simple as that. If they cut our prices, we have a decision to make, to either suck up the cut in price and do the job, or decide not to do it and let someone else take the job. We are replaceable! And unfortunately people are quickly realising this and the impact of the model advertising the products is becoming less of a priority.

Businesses are less concerned on the quality of the model, and more concerned about getting someone in at a cheaper rate. How tough is it if your doing your normal job one week, the next your doing the same job but for £100+ cheaper? How would you cope with this?

If you don't believe me, I have an example that has happened to me this week. As discussed before I worked with Burtons Menswear a couple of times recently now and had a huge potential to becoming very regular work, which would be ideal. I had to go into the company for a casting, as someone new took over the position of booking the models for the company. When someone new comes in, they often want to put their stamp on things and make changes to make it all about them, which immediately puts me at a disadvantage. I completely understand this situation and to be honest would probably consider doing the exact same thing if I was in that position. But would I openly say in front of the model that I have come in and I am cutting the rates straight away??? No.

Stood there and having to be told by the client that the rates will be cut in such a blase way, was very difficult to hear. I couldn't react. I had to just shrug it off and get on with what I am doing. Do I have a say in this? Not one bit. We are replaceable remember and if I say no to it, someone else will say yes.


Do I see a way past this? The future looks very bleak I must be honest. The only way to get the best rates is to become a commodity. To become irreplaceable. To have something that no one else can offer. To become a recognised name. How do I go about this? Please send me comments and let me know!!!

Enjoy

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

London Life - not that easy



Being back in England has been nice at times when catching up with friends and family, and back working on a regular basis, something that I greatly needed in order to improve my self esteem, which had become very low after a frustrating time on the work front in the US. However, it's still not an easy run of things in this country.

Castings are few and far between for modeling and I have been missing out on quite a few castings because of my knee situation, which is still no closer to being operated on. Speedo casting (need to swim), Mizuno casting (need to run)and others just seem a bit typical for my fortune right now. But I have not been dwelling on this and I am starting to do all I can to increase my opportunities to gain more work away from modelling. I am trying to get representation from a talent agency to help gain me some presenting work, something I firmly believe I am good at and could do very well if I get my opportunity to show people my talents.

Now, I hope people do not think I'm being arrogant by this comment, because this is not the case. I just feel very confident in front of a camera and believe that this is a career that I can do well in. Positive thinking often goes a very long way and it continually helps motivate myself to go after my dream. This is something that on a personal level I need, as it can be very easy sometimes to sit back and settle with what you have and not go after more and more. This is often the case when I get negative responses back from agencies that do not want to represent me. But I should be used to this from all the castings I have been to in my life that I have been told "no" from.

I certainly need to pull my proverbial finger out and be more pro active with my work. I need to stop relying on others to provide the opportunities and go out and grasp them myself. You make your own future and nobody will work harder for you than yourself, and why should they. This is what I am drilling in my head on a regular basis at the moment.



To sum up why London is not easy, just look above at this picture. This was a job I did for Optical Express. The pay was OK, for one days work don't get me wrong. And to be honest and put how much I received for this it was around about £400. A lot you think? Well, when I later found out that the usage for this job was 2 years, and all website, advertising and publications you start to ask yourself, "Are you taking the piss?!" This is absolutely ridiculous, but it is a sign of changing times in the market all over the world, not just London. Companies need to cut their costs as much as possible with the state of the economy, and advertising is the first area, which they look to cut. And as with any structure, the bottom of the pile are the ones that suffer the most. We have seen this so much in society of late and this is the case in my business too. You ask any models about their rates, and every single one will say the same thing. It is nearly impossible to make a living from this business unless you are at the very top of the pile. It is even harder for guys because there are fewer jobs available than there are for women, simple fact.

Times are changing and I need to adapt with it and work harder to achieve all I can in this world.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Riots - an attempted destruction of society



This wasn't exactly the kind of news in my life that I thought I would want to be writing in my blog. I didn't realise how overcome with emotion and anger from watching what has been happening these past few days that I have become. I have been unable to keep my eyes off of the news reports, the live videos and the constant interviews with people across society over the matter. It has completely taken over my life, my thoughts and my mind and distracted me from all that I need to start doing to kick start my working life again.

The behaviour of every single person involved in these riots is absolutely disgusting. Some of them are showing violence, some are showing vandalism, some are showing thieving, some are arsonists and some are now even murderers. So many of these people are pure and simply opportunists, taking advantage of a very difficult situation that started with the death of Mark Duggen in North London. Worryingly, you could ask so many of these rioters who he is and they wouldn't have a clue. They are doing this because "they can". They are rebelling against the laws of the land and unfortunately they have no remorse for their actions and believe society owes them. This is a huge problem.

What angers me the most right now is that people are pointing fingers at each other for these events. The government, the local authorities, the police, the rich, the education and the parents. Let's be real, these young people are out of control. They are not a political movement, they are not protesters, they are pure and simply criminals. They are old enough to know whats right and wrong and they are the sole people responsible for their actions and should be punished. The only other people that deserve a big part of the responsibility are the parents and/or guardians. What on earth are they doing? Where is their control over the children? This is what angers me the most, as these rioters are just kids, and don't live in their own property, they live with parents or guardians. Parents need to get hold of their kids and start educating them from the home.
But concentration right now needs to be made to catch everybody responsible and bring them to justice. We desperately need a strong justice system in this country, which helps make everybody feel more at ease that these kind of people will be punished.

I don't like people blaming others for these mindless acts. By doing this, we are letting them get away with it and it will make them continue to do so.

The immediate future needs to be concentrated on getting them off our streets, helping people and businesses effected by riots and getting back to normal for all. It is only after all this is completed that we can start looking deeper into these issues and finding ways we can prevent this from ever happening again. Youth projects, better community links with the police would be a start and that has to come from the top end of the country, the government. I do not agree with those people calling for better education, as the teachers of our country work very hard as it is and for me education starts at home.

I am desperate for everything to calm itself down and to stop spreading around the country. It's upsetting for all involved and I hope it stops very soon!

My work has slowed as people are not wanting to come down to London or are expecting people to come into London if it is not necessary. This is affecting a huge amount of people!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Life back in the UK



It is amazing and very strange how in one country you can get hardly any work, and you move back to another and its non stop. But as my strange life continues, it brings about little surprise that this is the case, as it add's more confusion to my already complicated life.



After taking 5 days to rest up from my jet lag, I was straight back in the swing of things back at live casino channel Smartlive Casino. I am so grateful for everybody at Smartlive for giving me the opportunity to come back to the show after being away for over 7 months. In today's extremely difficult society, I feel very fortunate to be able to get some work as soon as I get back with Smartlive. Also, the advantages of smartlive is that it is Live TV and that you can often get the opportunity to talk about just life. This helps me get much needed practice for any potential presenting work that could come. I have set my sights on really achieving as a presenter and practice, like in any industry, is essential and this show really helps. It also helps pay the bills too ;-)



Modeling wise I have a great agency here in London MOT Models (http://www.motmodel.com)and some fantastic people working their too have welcomed me back with open arms. After a little bit of time to get back into it, I had my first castings at the start of this week, 3 on Monday. I managed to get one of these jobs, a Malibu Ident, and was optioned for another one, which was a trip to Switzerland. A very good start by any ones standards, which delighted me of course. Then I managed to be booked direct for Burton's menswear on Thursday, a nice online Suits shoot, which could lead to more regular work. To make matters even better, I am working for House of Fraser on Monday too! So, work is going very very well.

Its just all completely different than that of modeling work in LA. The question I have been asked most about this is quite simply, why?
I have many ideas of why I believe this is the case, but there is nothing definitive to answer why. My ideas include quite simply not having the right look for the market in LA, the opportunities in LA are only for the really big jobs, where competition is at its most competitive, and my main idea is the way castings are in London. This is something I talked about in a previous post, and it certainly is the case when I get to cast in London and actually meet the clients. It's always a good opportunity as it gives you the chance to show your personality to them as well, which can have an influence on the outcome.

So life's been good, and been great to spend time with family and friends as always, as well as work and knowing that I am bringing in good income after a tough 7 months in LA. It's tough knowing that I have someone I love across the other side of the world and not being able to be there with them though. But I believe every job I can book here and every penny I can earn presenting here will stand me in good stead to move back to LA and to live our life how life should be lived.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Finding it tough going in Hollywood



I have described a lot about life in LA, the differences with regards castings and work, but haven't necessarily talked about how I'm personally getting on. I believe the time is now for that and to explain why I have returned to the UK.

In LA I was doing some football coaching to keep me busy and to get some money to simply enough be able to live out there. I was greatly appreciated to be able to do this as it kept me busy, kept me motivated, but more importantly enabled me to be able to put food on my table. Sound dramatic? Well its not. Having the responsibility of being in an adult relationship and living with someone requires you to be committed and sensible with everything. The coaching wasn't earning me a lot of money, but it was a necessity. With modeling work and presenting work not really happening over there, I needed to ensure I was earning enough to survive.

This was very different to how I was living my life previously and how I have lived my life in the past. It was a wake up call and a huge amount of realisation crept in. I had to do what I could and what was necessary, which included making a lot of sacrifices in my life and enabled me to find fun in different ways, which myself and my gf certainly achieved. It makes you realsie how important your own company is and that laughing, joking and ultimately smiling and being happy were the most important things in our lives.

Everybody says the same thing about Hollywood that it takes time and money to be successful there. They also say this great quote, "Its not what you know, its who you know thats important"
Its all about networking there and building your contacts and consistently keeping up to date with them, by regularly emailing, phoning them, but of course doing it in the right way. I've found how important it is to ensure you are an asset to people and that to prove to them how much you have to offer. It has opened my eyes up so much and although its been incredibly tough, I know it will stand me in good stead in the future.

BUT as with our luck this past 7 months, my life took another twist.

I have been playing a lot of football in LA, which has been fantastic, but unfortunately I played 1 too many games and this game I injured my knee. I got my studs caught in the turf as I turned and my left knee (the opposite to previous knee problems I've had) popped. Furtehr investigation thanks to an MRI scan confirmed I have torn my Cruciate Ligament and 2 other medial ligaments on either side of my knee! Just add's to the problems and limits my ability to work too.
Now back in the UK I require an operation and without private health cover I need to wait until the NHS is ready for me to have it done. Joy. So, when will I be going back? When I have the operation and am fully able to do everything I could do before that is the answer.

Hope that helps everyone get up to speed with where I'm at and how everythings been going

JAmes

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Castings in LA



This section is to let you know what castings are like in LA and how they differ to anywhere I've been in the world.
The main difference is the fact that you very rarely get an opportunity to meet the clients for the jobs you cast for. There are a lot of casting directors and casting agencies in this town that are employed by companies to cast potential talent for jobs. What this also means is that it add's an extra stage to the casting process, which for the client it makes it easier to cast someone. For the talent however, it is a completely different story and one I have become increasingly frustrated by since arriving in LA. It means that for practically every single job available, whether a modeling job or an acting job, there are a minimum of 2 stages of castings. That means 2 trips to the casting studios on two different days, a lot of time commitment and more money spent on travel. Now you can imagine that if your casting every single day and if you get fortunate enough for a call back, this will involve a lot more money being spent.



This is not the only difference with the castings. The volume in people casting is so much higher than that in London. We're talking very often numbers over 500 for certain jobs. Competition is fierce here in Tinseltown, with so many hopes and dreams of wannabe actors and models trying to come to fruition. It makes it very very difficult to make it and is definitely a part of the reason why I have found the first 6 months pretty tough.

On a personal level, I believe that when I get a chance to meet a client and to show them my personality, I have a lot higher chance of getting the job. I always believe that you need to make the impression on the clients so that you stick in their mind and that they don't forget you. This is extremely difficult to do when your being asked maybe 2 questions from a casting director (what is your name? what is your agency?). So ultimately 99% of roles are down to your look and if you fit the criteria set by the clients. You can kiss as much ass of the casting directors as you can, and so many do, but they are not the ones making the ultimate decision.



Now, a company that I am not obliged to mention, (due to contractual obligations) requested me for a commercial casting audition. First step of the casting was to have a phone interview. I was asked various questions about myself, my past and some about my personality. I had to ensure that when I received the phone call I was available to talk which meant moving work around that I had arranged.
After the phone interview I was fortunate to get a callback. I was extremely happy about this, as I knew the project was a large one and worth a lot of money too. (this is always something which is tough for models and actors, as it gets your hopes up when you see high figures flashed in front of your eyes) 2ND casting was at a specific casting building and I went in, waited the usual about 30 - 45 minutes as is the case in LA and went in. I was interviewed in front of a camera and asked the exact same questions as my phone interview. You can imagine how frustrated I was, as it felt like a complete waste of time going in, spending money and using my time again.

BUT my phone rang again and I got my 2ND callback, 3rd casting of all, again I was very happy about. This time I finally got to meet the client (well I thought all of them) and was happy to finally present myself to them and to get them to meet me and to speak to them. Now this casting went great and I got told by the Director of the project himself that I was his favourite for it! Such elation to hear that.

BUT it didn't end there! I was called up yet again to go in for a 3rd callback, a 4Th casting of all the following day! I was happy, but couldn't believe that I had to see them again and spend so much time trying to impress the client, doing very similar things to the previous days casting. I put my feelings to the back of my mind and gave it my all. I left this casting feeling absolutely drained and exhausted by the whole process but still very positive about the outcome. I was also told that I would hear back from them very soon to know if I had booked the project at all.

I never heard one thing back from them. Ruthless casting, no care or worry about how the people casting for the roles feel. They could not give a s**t about how much time, effort, energy, money and commitment went in for this casting alone. 4 castings! And worse was to follow when they did not pick anyone from the castings for the project and chose 2 very different people.

That is a true experience that I received whilst casting in LA. It is a tough, ruthless place to be and to try and make it. These previous hurdles and challenges will all stand me in good stead for the future, that I can be sure of.

Landing in Hollywood on a 3 year working visa



Tinseltown was upon me and I arrived in January on a 3 year working visa ready to take on Hollywood and all that it had in store for me. I was extremely fortunate and lucky to have the amazing support of my girlfriend who has been living in this city for 4 years.

It was tough at first, as LA is a city where you have no choice but to have access to transport, a car to be precise. The metro system is not great and the buses aren't the best either. I quickly learnt that castings were all over the city, and LA is one big big city too! From Hollywood to Santa Monica, to Downtown LA to Studio City, you name it and the traffic around the city is insanely bad. But hey that's part of my new life in a new city across the other side of the world.

It was time to get out and about as much as possible, to start exploring my new home. I was straight into my agency, Wilhelmina and it felt great to start cracking the modeling industry out in LA. Castings were happening straight away, and I was also back coaching soccer to, just to keep myself a bit busier.

The one thing I loved about LA in January is that the weather is so so so good! It felt like a British Summer and it was winter time! Such an amazing feeling to experience these weather conditions, and I have to admit was great to be away from the freezing cold English winter.

JAmes

Saturday, 9 July 2011

How did I get a visa to work in the US

Hi everybody,

A question that has been asked to me so much since I made the decision to come over to the states. "how did you get a visa?"
This is where I became very very fortunate, just.

When I arrived at the end of August, I got my modeling portfolio sent out to me. The reason I did this was because I first arrived on a tourist visa, which literally anyone can get, lasting 90 days. So, if my bags were searched, which does happen in the US, and they found my portfolio, they would think I am here to work illegally. I couldn't take this risk as I was moving here for someone and to follow my heart. Through my agency back in the UK, they helped set up some open call's with agencies in LA. This simply means anyone who wants to model here goes to an open call in hope of becoming a model.

I went round to LA Models first, they said no. I then went to a smaller agency called Q Models. They showed a lot of enthusiasm for me and said they would give me an answer very soon (something you hear a lot in LA). No word back at all.

Third on the list was well renowned agency Wilhelmina Models. This was the busiest of all open calls. A room full of people - certainly not models! It was amazing! One of the strangest experiences of my life. The hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of so many in the room who believed this was their destiny. There was desperation from so many too, you could see it in their eyes. I wish I had a picture of everybody in the room. One (I kid you not) looked like she was a man! One was a scrawny boy who was about 5ft 3. Another was a man who looked about 40 odd, beer gut the lot! One was a cocky, arrogant, young "douchbag" who thought he was gods gift. He turned up with his "manager" and got bombed so bad! Was so so so funny!
Anyways, everybody had to put their portfolios or pictures on the table and they were collected in. If your portfolio was returned, then you were not successful. Fortunately for me, mine never came back, and was the only one that did not come back. (whether that was a huge compliment considering some of the people in the room, I'm not so sure)
I got called into the room and met Paul Nelson, the head of the men's division in LA. A very nice guy who was straight to the point, that he liked me, liked my look and would help me get a visa! All would be done through their lawyers so I wouldn't have to do hardly anything! Simple!

I was over the moon! It was just the help I needed and I knew now that I could relax a bit more and enjoy getting used to life in the city and to getting to know my lovely new girlfriend some more.

Next step involved waiting, and waiting, and waiting for more news on the development. Originally they applied for a an O visa, a popular visa for models, actors and entertainers, that allows not just a specific job role. This was the ideal visa for me that could free me up to start looking into other adventures and potential work placements. A few weeks later though, disaster struck! The American government announced no more O visa's will be given out to models. (Great!) Fortunately, Wilhelmina were straight on the case and applied for a H1B visa for me. This visa is similar, but only entitles you to work for the company that sponsored you. At the time I had no care in the world about this and was very keen to just get whatever visa I could to ensure I could stay here.

After finding and attaching as many articles of my previous work that I could, getting references from around the world with agencies I've represented and filling out detailed forms regarding my work and what companies I've worked for etc, he application was in! A month or so later, success!!!!!!!! I had been granted the work visa and was on my way!

I hope this answers questions for anyone who was interested in how I managed to get my working visa. Feel free to post a comment if not.

Keep well

JAmes

Friday, 8 July 2011

Back Blogging!!!!!


Hi Everyone,

Apologies for going very quiet on the blog front! It's been a strange, crazy 10 months I have to admit. I wish I was blogging all the way through because so much has happened since my last update. I hope you enjoy.

What a year its been! From South Africa to LA, back to London and back to LA! I have so many friends who have been and done the whole LA thing as a holiday, but theres me in love and moving to the other side of the world.



That is her in the picture with me outside the famous Staples Center in LA, home of my new team the LA Lakers. Yes I am now a huge basketball fan, one of many changes in my life whilst I've been living in LA, Hollywood to be precise, tinseltown as they say!!!

My year has been so crazy including celebrating in the craziest parade ever for Halloween! I have never seen anything like it in my life! The costumes were absolutely crazy! (check out my facebook for more pictures) - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505970401
House parties galore including many in the plush area of Beverly Hills in some of the most incredible houses ever! This town really has got it all for entertainment every single day of the week there is an event, a birthday, a party, a film premiere, you name it!!!

I have countless stories, which I will start updating along the way, as well as telling you all about how my work situation is going and what life's like for me living, surviving and tackling this town.

Hope all of you are well

JAmes