Mommyish Exclusive: Directors Of ‘Girl Model’ Would Not Have Been Comfortable Filming Pedophilia And Prostitution

modeldocumentaryGirl Model, the haunting documentary that follows 13-year-old modeling hopeful Nadya Vall and jaded modeling veteran and scout Ashley Arbaugh, poses many questions. In taking a look at the working conditions of children and the insatiable demand for girls as young as 11 or 12, filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin distilled a true vulgarity to a business that truly makes no apologies. In an exclusive interview with Mommyish, Ashley shares why she and her partner tackled this industry in the first place and responds to allegations that the film “humiliates” young Nadya.

Why did you choose to document this industry?

We were actually approached by Ashley Arbaugh to do it. She said, “I’m a scout and I have this idea for a story.” We had talked to her a number of times initially to figure out what kind of story we would want to tell.

How did you go about selecting Ashley, the casting agent, and Nadya?

Ashley came to us, she scouted us, whereas Nadya was scouted by Ashley along with a number of other girls. For us, it was a timing thing. We wanted to follow the full process of a girl being scouted and leaving. When Nadya was leaving, we were there.

The only comfort I had during the scenes in which Nadya roams the streets of Tokyo alone was that there was a film crew with her. Did that provide some comfort to her family?  There is one moment in the film in which she uses the fimmakers’ phone to call home, but were there other moments in which the crew assisted her?

The film crew film is basically myself and my partner, David. We had initially sat down with Nadya and her family and a translator so that they would have an understanding of our intentions. Once we got their approval, it was pretty clear that they were happy and wanted one of us to travel with Nadya from Russia to Japan.

We did get separated at one point. Nadya had a layover in China and my partner David got separated for her. We waited for a number of hours and were completely freaked out. She ended up arriving but no one arrived to pick her up, as you see in the film.

There was absolutely a number of times that we helped in the situation. The reason we chose to pull those scenes out is to give the audience the feeling that no one is there. The uneasiness was something we wanted the audience to experience.

Why did you choose to include the footage detailing Ashley’s surgeries? In the context of the film, what were you hoping that inclusion would say about her or her industry?

I think that the cyst is very important in conveying both the internal world of Ashley’s body and psychology because of her relationship to bodies. Going to castings, looking at girl’s bodies, cutting up pictures and keeping them in her house. Bu what is in inside of her body? A little blonde haired cyst.

The entire documentary seems to be tiptoeing around the obvious: prostitution and pedophilia in the fashion industry, until Ashley outright states them both at the end. Was that ambiguity simply your artistic narrative of the film or was that tendency true in the industry as well?

We have a lot of questions that won’t be answered. When Ashley had approached us, she pitched the foggy lines between prostitution and modeling. What became really clear to both David and I is, ethically, we would have not been comfortable filming that. That is not something we would have taken lightly. We didn’t come across any of that. Whether or not Ashley sees that thing going on, that is more so a question for her.

Why do you estimate that the fashion industry is able to evade so many child labor laws what with sexually compromising environments, poor working conditions, and long hours?

It’s really difficult for a number of reasons to regulate the industry. These girls are going across many many borders and there is no organization that is monitoring and regulating those laws. There are just now organizations coming in like the Model Alliance. But there is not an overarching organization. I think until there is, there is no punishment, and you can get away with this type of treatment. Getting away with it probably means less questions being asked, the ability to make money in ways that are easier. It’s a bottom line. It’s a business. That’s why our film is not meant to point fingers at any one individual but invites people to see the complexities of the industry. Until there is some form of regulation, the cycle will continue.

I understand that Nadya and her family have since spoken out against the film and its accuracy despite having admittedly not seen the film themselves. Why do you suppose that is and what’s your response?

As far as that [Fashionista] article goes, the fact that the journalist did not watch the film is ridiculous in my opinion. I don’t know how you write an article about the film and not watch the film. We’ve been in contact with Nadya and we are getting the film translated into Russian so that she can watch it in her native language. We want her to fully understand the film. What happened was, in the process of us doing this translation, this article came out.

I hope that she does well in her career in response to the film. We have no harsh feelings towards Nadya or her family. Additionally, we hired someone to go out after we finished production to let her know that we had questions. This person came back to us and said that she and her family wanted to stop answering questions.


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  • Jo

    This documentary was shocking.

    Ashley – the scout – seemed to separate herself the intrinsic process of exploiting the girls (e.g., she admitted to ignoring prostitution – and as such paedophilia). She played a damaged victim, but I didn’t buy this. She was reaping the benefits of exploiting young, teenage girls, and praised and admired another booker (the guy who took girls to a morgue to watch autopsies). She was a legitimate pimp.

    I didn’t view Nadya as being humiliated (assuming she and her family were fully informed as to the documentary’s intent) – in fact, she showed great strength. Perhaps the humiliation boils down to the family’s realisation that they are selling their daughter.

    • LEH

      I agree 100%. Ashley was nothing more than a pimp, and a psychologically damaged one at that. She knew what the girls would go through but lied and manipulated them all the same. She laughed at their squalid apartment even though she was responsible for putting them in there and gave them no help or support.

      That guy talking about how 12 year olds are dignified unlike older girls who are basically prostitutes in his eyes was a vile, sick individual and she was sitting there asking why he cared so much! There was also a home movie of Ashley from her years as a young model saying she was a ‘bad girl’ so, I wonder if she had been pushed towards prostitution at some point. Wouldn’t be surprised.

      The family probably were embarrassed that they had sent their daughter off to make money so they could finish their house. Nadya however came across as mature, tough and amazing really considering she was abandoned in Japan. I was left to my own devices when I moved to Japan but I was 22 and could speak English which helped. I wish her the best of luck in her future.

    • QQBBQ

      Everyone has their hands out. The scout that gets a finder’s fee. The
      agency in Japan that books her. The agency in Russia that contracts her

      But the only people directly profiting from her misery are the filmmakers. Who knowing full well what’s in store for Nadya and capitalized on it so they could make a film to sell to PBS and Netflix. They expose the most private and most vulnerable moments of a 13 year old, playing her troubles for drama so they can buy their house in the Hamptons or screen at that film festival.

      There’s a lot of “first world troubles” going on in this thread. Are you people seriously such special snowflakes ignorant about the rest of the world? What kind of idiot thinks that Redmon and Sabin told the parents “yeah we know your daughter is getting screwed, but we want to film her most difficult moments and then humiliate her to the world. For example we’ll let her use our phone to call you but only after we get plenty of footage of her bumbling around with the Japanese phone. We’ll drive her out of the airport, but only after a couple hours of humiliation wandering around her first night new a strange land.”

      The parents didn’t “sell” their daughter for a house extension or a rec room you freaking clueless effete American sadsacks. They live in SIBERIA and were trusting this big name model agency and this American documentary crew and this experienced scout who personally plucked Nadya out from the rest would act like HUMANS to facilitate and look after their daughter as promised. They were hoping that their daughter by some great fortune would be able to make a better life for herself than married and pregnant in some shack at 20 years old. WTF is wrong with you ppl do you not have the capacity to think critically AT ALL?

    • Sarah88

      I mean I see what you’re saying, but do you have to be so abrasive and ignorant? This is a debate, not a place to insult people you don’t know just for not agreeing with you. Jeez. Documentary fil makers do this all of the time. They film phenomena as is. Normally they don’t get involved at all. They also promoted the Model Alliance, which is an ally to working models. You must hate all documentaries then. Should a make of a documentary about a drug user be forced to get them help? Or not film it? It’s happening anyways. They didn’t make it happen, they’re just putting it on film. Have you never watched a documentary before or are you unfamiliar with how they work?

    • Avery

      Your misplaced outrage reveals no intellectual superiority. Maybe you should look in the mirror before casting vitriolic aspersions on ‘You People’.

      If you want to discuss critical thinking, maybe you should first try doing some within the context of documentary film.

  • Heat

    Great docu film. The film never humiliated Nadya, the industry humiliates the models. Why aren’t the publishers using these models prosecuted under child labour laws? Ashley is obviously a very damaged person and like the male agents in the film they are all simply facilitators for pedophiles and those who have pedophilia fantasies. What type of psycho takes 13 year olds too child autopsy’s? Ashley appears to know exactly what world she is taking these girls into, like a child catcher, and this may be a reason why her body is eating her from the inside. I hope she enjoys the wealth she has made for herself but she knows it will never make her happy or change the past and she should never have a child of her own. Bringing this project too you was maybe a cry for help. The shot of the Hentai mag brought things into focus.

    • Jeff

      i think the project was more money in Ashley’s pocket than a cry for help.

    • Avery

      What makes you think she made money off of it? It wasn’t her documentary and she didn’t get a Producer credit either.

  • Remy Chevalier

    Ashley Arbaugh goes back to a million dollar home in Connecticut while the two girls she picked out of a line up for the documentary go back home $2000 in debt to her agency. What’s wrong with this picture? Isn’t that why the Barbizon and John Casablancas were finally shut down?

  • Darci steuerman

    I was horrified by Ashley! It may have all been an act, but she is a mess. I hope she doesn’t plan on having any children like she alluded to in the documentary. She appears to be completely depressed. No girl should ever go into modeling. How humiliating! Go to college.

  • red

    I can’t believe her comment that prostitution is an acceptable profession in some countries…not here! I know that some Russians think it is acceptable and raise their daughters just for that profession. I was wondering why so much about Ashley’s life was in the documentary until I realized it was all about her. She is a sick person.

  • Fred The Kat

    Pimping and indentured servitude and nothing more. Tigran, “Messiah” and Ashley are pimps, plain and simple. They sold Nadya’s photos, published them and the girl is still in debt $2000. And the fact that there is a market for sexually suggestive images of 13 year old girls in Japan… well, don’t even get me started. Pro tip: Ashley, Do. Not. Have. Kids. Period. You are one sick puppy.

  • Green

    What happened to Nayda? I hope she didn’t get trapped in the world of sex trafficking.

    • Avery

      Can you use Google?

  • Lacey

    Ashley Arbaugh knows how it works and still she lies to the girls she sends to Japan. She is the most disgusting thing about this whole film. She is one sick, sick person.

  • JoeG

    Just saw this doc – excellent! This Ashley chick is either comfortable with her devious nature or in complete denial. She IS a pimp and is facilitating the trafficking of young girls to pedophiles and pervs in Asia. She makes me sick and should be executed in public; perhaps that is acceptable to her much like her comment regarding prostitution. Never should Ashley be allowed to bear children. Some people should simply never procreate. Nadya comes across as a young lady with a good head on her shoulders. Her parents should be ashamed although I could chalk their behavior (sending your 13 y/o daughter to Japan by herself) up to some ridiculous culturally acceptable practice. Still, sending your daughter off to a different country so that she can make money and you finish your house? Ludicrous.

  • …..

    Okay, Ashley put on a show the whole time until the end when she blatantly lies to the camera saying Japan is a market where you won’t go into debt and its completely safe and okay when the audience clearly observed the opposite through the whole film. She admits its a twisted industry and that she has no passion for it. She goes on about how she hated it herself, yet she uses these young girls to fuel her greed and “addiction” to the “stimuli” of traveling. She says herself that ‘Messiah’ (clearly a man with an inflated ego obvious solely by his name) is in his forties yet he looks for these 13 year old models, hinting at his sick desires. The other guy is delusional if he truly believes he is helping anyone and shows great signs of guilt toward what he’s doing when he reveals he believes he was a bad person that killed many people in his past life

  • Sarah88

    I wish they would have addressed the $8000 issue. They were promised that and never got it. Is there nothing anyone can do? Can they just explain it a little bit? And they can change it on a day to day basis? It’s insane and so gross.

  • MC

    The abused become the abusers, rinse and repeat. The world is a meat grinder and I hope there is in fact a hell for some.

  • ME

    You exploited her in this film as much as the modeling industry exploited her. Shame on you, disgusting so called film maker. You are disgusting. Did you even pay Nadya and her family for their part in your crap ass film???? You are horrible.

    • Kim Lee

      Wow, you don’t get the point of a documentary, DO you?

  • Miranda Seymour

    1. Don’t have children if you can’t afford to educate them for a better profession than modeling. 2. This is why I NEVER buy ‘wimmin’s’ magazines: they’re all garbage promoting unhealthy ideals. Quickest way to shut these snakes down? Stop buying fashion magazines, and high end designers preying on underage girls to sell their goods. Buy Fair Trade or vintage/resale. You can bet this happens with male models also.

  • BeccaBoo

    It’s so sad that these tiny little girls are left to fend for themselves in a country where they don’t even understand the language. Watching the eyes of the majority of the adults in this film made my blood cold. Most of the men clearly had interest in these girls apart from the cash they can bring in and it was gross to watch this reality played out on film. Basically these agencies need to be held accountable for the safety of their minor employees by financially contributing to a third party that will insure the girls are not being exploited. I was also “picked” by a modeling agency as a young girl and they wanted to send me off the Japan. My mother said “no way!” which I resented at the time. This industry would have destroyed me. Thanks Mom.

  • Outraged

    I agree with the others that this Ashley chick is one sick, twisted, perverted, lying, greedy, scum of earth! How dare her say she would take a daughter or child of her own to Russia, how could she possibly explain her horrific behavior to them? Would she let her 13 year old child model or be prostituted? If she says no, then why not? If it’s ok for these other young innocent children. Again, Sick, in need of serious help, trust me, you, Ashley did not make any friends, admirers, or sympathizers. You are right up there with any other child trafficker! Shame on you!

  • jenni

    This documentary was horrible…Ashley Arbaugh is totally detached emotionally, this woman should be ashamed of herself. I wonder how she sleeps at night. Exploiting these young children. They should all be charged and shut down.

    • Avery

      That is why the film is good. It reveals all of that, even if Ashley is in deep denial about what she does.

  • Lira Mai

    that ashley and tigran are pimps, not to mention their contacts, they took advantage of the girls. ashley is some kind of a weird, pathetic, selfish, lying b#@-ch, not to mention self-absorbed and some kind of a psycho. it’s obvious that she had a bad experience in the past but instead of helping these girls she joined them of exploiting them. i wish they will be in jail. kids in america should watch this one, so they will know how lucky they are.

  • Meristel Shaw

    Of course Nadya and her family will not talk about the film,,,clearly they are scared and indebted to these so called “agencies” that could cause them harm.

  • Emily

    Ashley is such an odd person… She reminds me of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

    What’s more maddening (and also devastating) is that the film ends with her telling other models that they would have guaranteed work and make money in Japan. I would quote her exact words but I can’t remember them verbatim. All I remember thinking is, “Oh my gosh… you just blatantly lied.”

    It’s terrible.

  • Matan Uziel


  • Leo

    I hope Ashley Arbaugh rot in hell for her child exploitation.How much evil in this world! I never comment on movies, news stories, etc. but as a father this story has shaken me and discussed me to the core. I hope this monster who pay for her crimes against these innocent children that god knows how many she is responsible for putting into debt/prostitution/pedofiles/filthy industry! Ashley Arbaughy you are scum!!!