We’re in the south of France and we’re on our way to meet Elena Spirina, a Russian busineswoman and documentary film-maker.
“I did some research on Elena last week,” I say, “She studied documentary filming in Moscow, which seems to be her greatest passion if you follow her on social media.”
“Well that already gives us one passion in common!” says Maarten.
“She is a serial entrepreneur: in addition to film-making, she has been running her own an events agency, Merry-Go-Round, for 12 years, organizing private events all over the world.
“She also created a T-shirt brand, Try Merry. She says it happened more or less by chance after an event where she had her staff wear T-shirts that she had designed herself. They were a huge hit and so she decided to launch a T-shirt brand.”
“Sounds like fun, going with the flow, my kind of entrepreneur,” says Maarten.
“She’s only 34, but she’s already got quite a resume. At the moment she travels between Moscow, where her business is based, and the south of France, where she makes documentaries.”
We meet Elena near St. Remy de Provence, where she is finishing a documentary about French chefs. We find her on set, talking to one of the cameramen. As soon as she spots us she head over, snapping photos of us as she walks. This looks very familiar….
“Usually we’re the ones taking the pictures,” Maarten says, pointing at her Hasselblad.
“So, this is your favorite activity: taking pictures and making documentaries?” I ask.
“Definitely,” Elena says. “I like everything I do, but catching moments in people’s lives through my camera is my biggest passion.”
“Why is that?” I ask. “What drives this passion of yours?”
“Well, for me, capturing stories is the most fascinating thing. I love to get behind the camera and try to go beyond what we see at first. When I look through my lens, I have a completely different perspective of the world. I love people and I love to understand what drives them. In my documentaries I try to capture these moments and then share them with others.”
“So it is a way of satisfying your curiosity,” Maarten says. “In a way, you’re a storyteller, just like us.”
“I am, definitely,” she replies, “and I am convinced that visual storytelling enters the emotional, right side of the brain more than any other form of information transfer. We all know that we can touch people by conveying emotions, and that is exactly what I want to achieve with my documentaries.”
“So what’s next?” I ask.
“I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but whatever happens, when you do what you are passionate about, you always find your way,” says Elena with a big smile. This is a woman who definitely loves life!
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