Monday, June 8, 2009

Glitz, Glamour & Exhaustion - One Sparkly Package

A lot of girls get enticed by the perks of the modeling/tv/entertainment industry. As we all know, there are tons - whether it's the free goodies, events, meeting personalities or even the digits on the paycheck! There are endless reasons to want in...but, you've probably heard it all before, so I'm gonna skip it all - sweep away the glitz and look at the reality! Because as difficult as it is to imagine, it really is hard work. Patience testing (especially this!) and fever inducing hard work! Don't believe me? Here's the behind the scenes going ons...

Back in Malaysia, when a group of us decided to be the girls on Deal or No Deal, we all thought..."Oh fun! Easy Work! Nice Pay!". Wanna know how it went?
The studio was located nowhere near where most of them lived, it was in a very industrial neighborhood and took 1+ hr drive just to get there! Call time - 8am!
Get there on time, told at the last minute that maybe we should try to get there a 1/2 hr earlier instead. Why?
Because it was 5 make up artists and hairstylists to do up 26 models + contestants. You spend most of the time sitting around waiting to get your look put together, and after that, you sit around to wait for the others. Lighting checks, sound checks, etc...
At 10:30am (as written in the schedule, but more realistically 11:30am - this is TV! Nothing is ever on time!) they load the audience. All the while you have been in the back of the freezing studio waiting for them to do this...because of course they loaded us first!
Finally everything blares, lights come on and we're ready to roll! Guess what? It's a 2+ hr shoot with the air conditioner blasting away at you to prevent the studio lights from popping! And you have to stand there and smile appreciatively as the contestants waste time with idle chatter and remarks (sometimes rude!), because they are so excited about being on TV for the first time. By this time, we're cursing inwardly when they don't pick our bags, because all we want to do is get out of the air conditioner head on blast!

Anyway...this goes on another two more times during the day - 3 episodes shot in a day, which brings our wrap time to past midnight! No overtime pay!
Want to know the sickest thing? During those times that we were backstage...there was nothing back there with us...just a bunch of uncomfortable plastic chairs for us to sit in, wait for things to start and wait for the shoot to wrap. Delay after delay in the freezing some of their girls actually had to "relieve" themselves in an empty box backstage! They took a box they found laying around...filled it with random papers/newspapers and whatever they could find backstage...took it to a corner..and took turns with their makeshift toilet!
Remember your kindergarten days? "Teacher! Teacher! I need to go to the toilet!" ? No such luck...THERE WERE NO BREAKS!
Disgusting, no?

On top of it all..a lot of the girls ended up with fevers from being in the freezing studio for prolonged what? Not much chance of calling in sick when you've got a minimal number of girls on standby.
So, it's back to work with a high fever...trying to get through your day...

Now that you've got a free day from that shoot...relax, recharge and take it easy? HA! No such luck...
In a lot of countries, girls are freelance models. Which find your own jobs and you better be willing to work damn hard if you want to earn enough to survive!

So on our free days from the Deal Or No Deal shoot, we were working other jobs too...
Which means even on the day that we were shooting the promo shoot, which ended at 2+am...(since there was no need to be considerate of contestants, by they way, they forgot to provide us with food and we had to make do on whatever random snacks we had in our bags and whatever drink bottle we could share!)...we still had to wake up early for call times at our other jobs!
Unfortunately I had a 6am call time...
Which meant...I left the Deal Or No Deal studio at 2+am, drove home and finally got into bed at 3:30/4am to wake up at 5am, so that I can get to another shoot location(also stupidly far away) at 6am!

Don't think that this is a highly unlikely day and was just bad luck...
Nope it wasn't..This is simply what the life is like during the working days.

When we were shooting a reality show outdoors...same thing. Ended ridiculously late the majority of the time, though on screen it looks great to shoot on location and outdoors..BUT the weather may not agree with your shoot schedule!
During that month, we spent many hours bonding while bundled together cold and wet, desperately trying to find anything we can to keep the rain off - not us! but the camera and lighting equipment..hoping & praying for mother nature to hurry up, be kind to us and stop pouring down on us, so that we could get back to work...
Schedules to keep, so no postponement of shoot possible! Wait wait wait...rain finally ends...of course...past midnight! Back to work...and it starts we speed through it all, pretending there's no rain and quickly rush to wrap up the shoot before we all look like drowned rats!
But, since it was an evening shoot for this series, the call times were tons better! But that only meant we'd had time in the earlier part of our schedules for other jobs, so not really much of a difference!

Call times! Call times! Call times! The bane of existence... the new girls out there...don't piss & moan so much when your agents send you your daily schedules. In a lot of countries models are not signed exclusively to agencies, which means you gotta get your jobs all by yourself, there is no such thing as overtime pay, and you gotta work hard and often (which means killer schedules!) if you want to make it and survive!

-Marina Suwendy

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