Evgenii Shkolenko is a videographer who stumbled on the stock business out of sheer love for film and a desire to document real life. In three years, he created a very impressive portfolio that has grown it to 4000 files. We had a chat with Evgenii about his approach to shooting, his plans for the future and the secrets to creating a friendly atmosphere on shooting locations.
1. How did you get into stock videos?
During my childhood, I could watch the same movie 30 times, and each time I analyzed the images – the styling, the characters, the costumes and emotions. This all cast quite an impression on me, I dreamed of becoming an actor.
At 14, I tried to shoot on a VHS film camera. I started putting film together with the help of two video recorders and one audio recorder that I used for music.
When I first got hold of a Canon d550, it created a whole revolution in my consciousness, I realized I’m holding all of Hollywood in my hands. That’s when I started making money from videos: documentary films, advertising, weddings and video design.
The decision to start shooting stock videos came to me 3 years ago. Max Protsenko, a successful stock photographer, explained to me what stock marketplaces are, how they work. For all of this, I’m very grateful to him. Stock photographer Danil Rudenko also contributed a lot to my growth.
2. What were some of the biggest challenges at the very beginning and what kind of challenges do you have now?
At first, I didn’t exactly understand what to upload. This was the main and most important challenge. I looked at works of famous studios and realized that it’s clearly not at the same level as me, as in I didn’t have the equipment or experience.
I kept pursuing my freelance career and slowly invested my money into improving my stock footage. After 3 months, I had my first sale on one of the websites and I literally started dancing from joy.
Today, there are still certain challenges with looking for models and locations, because where I’m from, opportunities for film production are limited. For this reason, in a month, I’ll be organizing a shoot in Kiev.
3. Your videos are really high quality. Living in a regional center where there’s a lot less infrastructure and opportunities than in larger cities is tough. How do you manage to achieve such a high level of work?
Thank you 🙂 ! I really try to make the most of what I have and somehow highlight my strengths. I always set the bar higher than my opportunities. The belief that I will be one of the best motivates me during each shoot.
The search for locations, people and the preparation takes much more time than the actual shoot and post production. I love watching backstage footage from films and music videos and understand that if they can create masterpieces in their ordinary warehouses, it means I can shoot scenes that are just as good in my city. I find suitable hotels or other places and shoot what I have to on location.
4. Is there any advice or trade secrets about working with models when shooting videos? Do you have a written script or do you encourage improvisation?
That’s perhaps the hardest part of my job. Once it just so happened that the person was really beautiful, but they didn’t have the charm or the emotional package which got in the way of shooting good ‘stock’ footage.
There are no secrets really. I love it when the atmosphere on the shooting location is really friendly. Most importantly, you have to create a good mood, respect and love the people. I prioritize those who can play the right part according to my vision.
I think you have to analyze the market and come up with scripts to reflect the in-demand topics. I never say ‘no’ to improvisation because sometimes the best ideas come spontaneously during the shoot. Often times, it is those shots that end up with the most sales.
5. Name 3 main components of an original, quality stock video.
In order of priorities:
- Awesome people
- Good equipment
6. Which themes do you like working with the most and which ones would you like to try to shoot in the future?
I love shooting sports and soldiers and in the future, I’d like to shoot a space theme or something with cars and movement.
7. Could you tell us about a fun or awkward moment during one of your shoots?
Once, during a shoot, actors created a scene that didn’t follow the script and it ended in a fight scene. I embraced the idea and decided to develop it.
As a result, I ended up with a video where a worker is discussing sketches with an investor, they start arguing and the investor loses it, grabs the sketch from the worker’s hand and hits him in the face. It was really funny! No one has bought the video yet.
8. What would you advise those that are just starting to shoot for stocks?
It’s more difficult to get started now, as the competition is so high. You have to work for the quality and not the quantity because that’s where the future is heading.
9. Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your videos?
I like watching expensive ads and movies as well as follow some of the top studios on stock platforms.
Sometimes talking with other successful stock photographers and videographers inspires me to continue growing.
For example, Aleksei Gorodenkov is one of my main sources of inspiration. His works and just talking to him inspires me to aim higher for better results and organize my own production team.
10. What’s your go-to selection of equipment for shooting stock videos?
Sony Alpha camera, DJI ronin stabilizer and a n ARRI and DEDOLIGHT lighting set. In the future, I’m hoping to buy RED Raven and Black Magic miniURSA.