Posts tagged with "Shia LaBeouf"

Illustration of a Booker by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Turf Shifts Modeling World

By Dana Feeney

The modeling industry has two very different faces. One side are supermodels, like Gigi and Bella Hadid, glamorously modeling, making millions of dollars, and traveling the world. The other are the unknown models working job to job, facing exploitation and manipulation by their agencies and clients, and trying to make their name in the industry. The mistreatment of models is as old as the industry itself. Skinny, cis, and white models experience this brutal reality. Working as a model is only worse for people of color [POC], LGBTQA+, and immigrants because of the lack of transparency or regulation and rampant misconduct.

New Players

The current push for diversity and inclusion has caused a much higher demand for POC, and LGBTQA+ models with different body types. In recent months, a few new players in the game are building their reputations on accountability and proper treatment of the models and creatives they represent. Three small agencies and one superpower are disrupting the model representation world: New Pandemics, Zandwagon, Community New York, and film and television power player Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
The way modeling deals traditionally work is that a model signs to an agency, such as Next Models, Ford Models, IMG Models, or Wilhelmina Models. The agency provides its models with certain services such as housing, transportation, portfolio shoots, and more. In most cases, anything an agency provides for a model they have to pay back to the agency, often at a high-interest rate. The interest rate means the longer they take to pay it back, the more they owe to the agency.

Although models sign contracts to agencies, they are not considered employees of those agencies and instead are independent contractors who the agency aids in booking jobs. The agencies do not keep models on their payroll. They do control the money that the models earn on a job and how their money models earn is distributed. Bad payment practices reach far beyond the agencies. The agencies are responsible for billing the client right after the model completes their job. Payment for jobs by agencies to their models is notoriously sketchy because clients are not required to pay upfront before shoots and can legally take up to 90 days to settle up. Most agencies take at least a 20% fee out of any money their models make and charge clients a “booking fee,” so for a $1000 job, they would charge $1200 but only pay the model $800. Worst of all, if a client does not pay the agency for work a model did, the agency does not owe the model the money they earned. The common practice in the industry is that the model only gets paid if the agency gets paid.

The film and television management world contrasts the modeling world in many ways. The modeling industry as a whole is riddled with misconduct, manipulation, and poor treatment of models by their agencies and brands. Many modeling agencies use contracts that include fees and costs they can pull out of the model paychecks and use debt, housing, and visas to keep their models dependent.

Agencies in other media such as film, only make money if their clients make money. In film, the percentage is around 10% because of unions. Although, none of these industries are flawless especially considering scandals in the film and tv world with predators like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.
Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has a long history of representing talents across film, tv, music, and more. In August of 2020, CAA announced their partnership with KCD Worldwide, a fashion services agency, which signaled CAA’s entrance into fashion model management for the first time in the agency’s history. CAA has a strong legacy of representing high-profile individuals and building their careers. They have also stated that they only take a 10% fee out of their models’ earnings, half of the general standard of 20%. Despite their claims for better treatment of models, CAA is not blemish-free when it comes to allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct. Multiple former CAA agents have faced lawsuits.

Additionally, CAA has previously represented multiple people accused of misconduct, including Shia LaBeouf, Chris D’Elia, and Marilyn Mason; all of whom are no longer represented by CAA.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the smaller boutique agencies mentioned earlier, New Pandemics, Zandwagon, and Community New York. New Pandemics is “a casting and management agency dedicated to increasing LBGTQ+ visibility.”

Zandwagon is “a talent management company that could guide everyday life individuals who are breaking beauty standards daily” according to their website. Community New York is run by Butterfly Cayley, Moe Lamstein, and Richie Keoall, three first-generation immigrants from Laos, and “is founded on inclusivity and progressive values by changing not only the style but the very structure of management.” Cayley, Lamstein, and Keoall have impressive experience at agencies including DNA and Elite Model Management. Community New York now represents stars such as Hunter Schafer, who is well known for her work on the hit HBO show “Euphoria” and is now a brand ambassador for Shiseido.

With small diversity forward agencies up and coming, the existing modeling industry is under attack from all sides. All three of these agencies emphasize how much they value representation and inclusivity in this industry that has avoided breaking societal beauty standards for so long. They also claim they will be different from other agencies and provide better treatment for their clients. These agencies are sending the message that you’re either with them or against them, and they’re willing to think outside of the box to get proper treatment and equity for models from all walks of life.

Same Old Problems

Many of the biggest fashion houses in the world are still reckoning with the #MeToo movement. The fashion industry is known as a highly predatory business. Many of even the largest names in modeling have had to survive people abusing their power on sets and behind the scenes to become who they are. Household names, such as Kate Upton, Coco Rocha, and Cameron Russel, have all spoken out about their experiences with the abuse they’ve experienced while working as models.

Kate Upton spoke out against Paul Marciano in 2018, which led to a total of $500,000 in settlement agreements involving five individuals. He has remained an active participant at GUESS as a board member and chief creative officer, despite resigning from his position as an executive. At the beginning of February, the news broke that Marciano is once again being sued over sexual assault allegations by a woman who has chosen to remain anonymous. The allegations against Marciano are not an isolated incident. Similarly, allegations were brought against Alexander Wang in December of 2020 but began as early as 2017, yet some still chose his side despite the overwhelming corroboration of multiple individuals. If the word of a woman as successful as Kate Upton is not enough to oust a predator from power, it’s unclear what realistically can protect vulnerable individuals with less acclaim from the same experiences or worse.

The silver lining of these allegations coming to light is the industry supporting the individuals coming forward more than ever before. In the past, many models lost their careers before they had even begun due to the actions of predators and the mechanisms powerful people use to silence their victims. Accounts such as @shitmodelmgmt and @dietprada have been using their online platforms to expose predators and condemn their actions openly across Instagram and Twitter. Additionally, the Model Alliance, an organization dedicated to giving models a voice in their work, has also spoken out against Wang on their Instagram saying, “We stand with David Casavant, Owen Mooney, Gia Garison, and all the accusers of @alexanderwangny in their pursuit towards justice.”

The upheaval that began in 2006 with survivor and activist Tarana Burke’s creation of the #MeToo movement has continued into 2021. Slowly but surely survivors are taking their power back and pushing to create real change in media industries that have exploited them for far too long.

Illustration of models by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

“The Tax Collector”

by Justin Lyons

2020 sure has been an interesting year for movies. We’ve missed our fair share of big releases, but here we are in September with a new film from David Ayer, a director who has seemingly taken nothing but criticism over the past half decade. Maybe some of that has been warranted, maybe some of it hasn’t, but here he stands with a new movie available for rent.

Ayer is re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf, whom he directed in one of the best performances of his career in 2014’s “Fury.” LaBeouf is past the point of only being recognized for the “Transformers” series. He’s truly one of the most gifted actors working right now, and this nice, little roll he’s found himself on since exiting Michael Bay’s billion dollar franchise has solidified him as a top tier talent.

He’s coming off a fantastic 2019 with “Honey Boy” and “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” so it was no surprise seeing him marketed as a co-lead in “The Tax Collector.” It was, however, a shock to see him in a supporting role in the film itself, and that’s the movie’s biggest problem.

It might be better said that the movie’s biggest problem is that none of the characters, aside from LaBeouf’s character, called Creeper, are very interesting. Each and every one is built upon a foundation that we’re familiar with, including those in other David Ayer movies. Their principles and motivations never sincerely stand out.

David, the main character played by Bobby Soto, drives around Los Angeles collecting a percentage of gang profits for his boss, a man called Wizard. He does it to protect and provide for his non-gang-affiliated family, who are in fact good. When Wizard’s ex-rival returns to town, dead set on taking over Los Angeles, David’s allegiances and strength are put to the test.

Again, we’ve seen that before, so viewing it again, in a mostly predictable manner that doesn’t make “The Tax Collector” stand out among memories of other gang movies and stories, doesn’t let it resonate. It never pushes for that emotional connection to the characters or story that I was looking for. Possibly the most unfortunate part is that there’s evidence of potential here. There is potential in these characters and in this world that makes me think there’s a decent movie in here somewhere, but it needed more time to give the characters the life and development they deserved.

The story itself also feels disjointed in an effort to develop the relationships with characters, even though those relationships don’t benefit from the sacrificing of story. Most beats, particularly toward the end of the film, seem to just happen without express purpose. There is a guiding narrative pushing David against the rival gang leader, but most events in the story don’t have the build up that I had hoped for. Things just kind of occur without any rhyme or reason. We have a character whom we’re supposed to immediately latch onto and a character whom we’re supposed to immediately hate, and none of the story beats ever allow the characters to breathe and change.

Each scene is also played at the highest possible level. Subtlety isn’t always a synonym for high quality, but constant high octane sequences never helped David’s character. Despite being a lover of action sequences, I found myself more intrigued by David’s moments with his family. He shows the struggle of balancing his roles as a protector and as a “tax collector,” but it’s never enough to round out the character.

It feels like Ayer is going through the motions, which is disappointing from a director who has obvious talent. He didn’t fall into the screenplay for “Training Day,” and he surely didn’t accidentally direct “Fury” and “End of Watch” with the skill and charisma of those films. That filmmaking talent is in there, but in going back to a story reminiscent of his earlier work, it appears he is recycling his own techniques. Even the visual look of the movie, which Ayer typically excels with, feels bland. He does pull a couple of visual tricks from his repertoire in flashbacks and high-intensity action sequences, but the flashbacks feel played out, and one specific moment of slow motion was enough to pull me out of a movie that appeared to go for gritty reality.

There are positives to take away from “The Tax Collector.” Again, Shia LaBeouf is immensely talented, and that shows in this film. Every single time he’s on-screen, it’s tough to look away. He does take a supporting role in the movie, but he steals the show right out of Bobby Soto’s hands. Some of that is due to the writing as Creeper is a far more compellingly written character than David, but LaBeouf commits so hard to every single word, and he’s an absolute blast to watch.

The scenes in which David and Creeper drive around Los Angeles, spewing mostly throwaway dialogue, are easily the most fun in the film. Creeper is the muscle of the duo, but I enjoyed his humanity. I have to credit LaBeouf because when Creeper is thinking, it’s easy to watch the wheels in his brain spin. He has these survival instincts, and he’s skilled with weapons and intimidation tactics, but he’s not a robot. He diets, meditates and wants to be included in David’s personal life.

“The Tax Collector” isn’t memorably bad. It’s just not memorable at all, and that is the most frustrating thing about the film. There is potential in the story, the characters and the story world, but it’s so easy to think of scenes that should have been cut in favor of scenes that should have been added. There’s also so much inspiration behind Creeper, but he’s not the focus of the film, which I think would have made the movie much more engaging.

There comes a certain point in the film where nothing is left to care about, and the story revisits a relationship that doesn’t feel earned. Had it spent more time developing that relationship, I might have been invested in the final act, but one short sequence and one small show of good faith wasn’t enough to make me believe that some of these characters would show the support they’re asked to show. Nevertheless, I’m happy to discuss Shia LaBeouf in a positive way. Maybe with that tattoo on his chest forever he’d be better suited in a similar role as a lead performer.

“The Tax Collector” is streaming now on Amazon.