Interview with Stas Kasatov: cinematography trends 2023, the path to success, finding his own style and inspiration, work with celebrities
Video has become one of the areas of art, an excellent tool for doing business, ways to express yourself and attract the attention of the audience in the modern world, since most people perceive information better visually. Video has long gone beyond the purely entertainment format, it reveals character, complements, conveys dynamics and builds trust.
Stas Kasatov – a successful entrepreneur, videographer, director, journalist shared with us his history and path in cinematography and business, development plans; spoke about the main video trends in 2023, as well as the most memorable projects.
1. Tell us about your path in cinematography. How did you start filming?
My cinematography journey began in 2015. I dreamed of making money, while studying in my second year at the Higher School of Economics in Perm: to find a business that would bring not only income, but also pleasure. And I started shooting: I took the most ordinary camera from my friend, bought the simplest lens. At first I decided to collaborate with various cafes, restaurants and showrooms that had just opened, and offered to make small promotional videos for them. I created a worthy portfolio and became a fairly famous operator in my city six months later.
Afterwards I met my current partner and best friend, with whom we have been doing business together for 8 years, breaking a kind of stereotype about friendship and business. We are very suitable for each other in spirit that’s why we decided to move on together. For a long time we filmed absolutely everything: from weddings to small commercials for business; we looked for orders independently, came up with scripts at night, filmed, edited and handed over. Our team consisted of 4-5 people and it was more like a creative association than a business.
We became the most famous and major production in the city. We had the largest clients, the biggest checks. We realized that we had reached our maximum and we need to move on over time and we started considering options for the next relocation. We considered Moscow at first, but then we thought that we could go to all-in immediately and moved to Dubai.
Dubai turned out to be not only a city of dreams for us, but also a city of great opportunities. We began to get acquainted with representatives of local businesses, make useful contacts actively from the first days. We had only one option: to join the rhythm of this incredible city as soon as possible and find our place in it.
We stayed in Dubai for 2 years in total during that period of time. It was the center of the world, where people came from all countries. We started working with major fashion brands, agencies and even representatives of the defense industry. We traveled a lot around the world, worked with celebrities. This is how we first declared ourselves on the world stage. Life at that time began to resemble the life of a dream. But in any case, we were still far from a large company.
We came to a decision to return to Moscow in order to start building an empire and conquer the world at the end of 2019. I decided that it is still better to have a main office in my homeland. Everything began to develop rapidly from that moment on. Every year we moved to an ever larger office. The staff grew; we had 10, 15, 20, 30 people in the team. We worked with the largest brands such as: Mercedes Benz, Apple, H&M, Lamborghini, S7, Johnnie Walker, etc., started shooting series for the largest streaming services in country.
Our offices are in 3 countries at the moment: the UAE, Russia and the USA.
2. How did you manage to achieve success and make your favorite thing to become a source of income?
The question is quite interesting, I would even say philosophical. I think that the whole point is that I initially chose the right strategy, without suspecting it: I was guided in my activities precisely by what brings me pleasure and not money in the first place.
I think a lot of people do the opposite: they choose money and find themselves in a trap at the beginning of their journey. After a while money is not particularly motivating, and a person is left with a job that does not bring him satisfaction and growth. This path is a dead end for a long distance. That is why many people leave unloved jobs in search of themselves.
I skipped this stage immediately and started doing what inspires me. That was what gave me the strength to easily go through all the difficult times and still enthusiastically develop my business every day.
Two key components helped me here, revealing the financial side of the issue:
1. Interest in my business. This gave me a clear understanding of all processes to the smallest detail.
2. Desire to scale. If I want a big company, I cannot do everything myself. I need to delegate processes, and set up all processes myself and create conditions for my employees.
It was these two moments in their combination that led the company to large projects and checks.
3. Your videos are creative and really stand out from the rest. Where do you find inspiration for creating your works? How did you find your unique style?
In my opinion, the most important and inspiring part of our work is creativity. Our client receives the product that answers his questions, goals and needs, that contains a part of us, a part of what we have already seen somewhere through creativity and the prism of our perception. One of the most basic skills in creative professions is observation. The more other works you look at, the more visual information you pass through yourself, the more you note for yourself what you like and understand in what direction you should move, what is more interesting to you: something dynamic, something bright, something more daring, or conversely calm and melancholy. And thus, you have your own individual style.
The style of our company is a direct reflection of our philosophy. This is speed, non-standard, in some sense, audacity and brightness. This is our lifestyle: we are always on the move and trying something new. We have the most charged young guys in our team who cannot sit still and move each other forward.
Most of all we are inspired by new challenges and challenges that we set for ourselves. I often ask the guys: “Why don’t we take a swing at this or that? Why don’t we make movies? Why don’t we enter the US market?” etc.
New horizons are always the most inspiring. They point the way and give energy to go forward. In general I treat business and everything that happens in life as a very cool and interesting game. By the way that’s why in our recent works there are a lot of references to gaming.
4. Tell us about your most memorable work: working with celebrities, extreme and funny cases.
We have had a huge number of interesting, non-standard and extreme cases, sleepless days and weeks, as well as a huge number of victories and lessons over the 8 years of the company’s work.
For me, personally, one of the most memorable was one of the smallest projects in my entire career in terms of timing. Filming of the project lasted only 10 minutes. But this is one of the most important and significant projects for me, that greatly expanded my worldview and showed that everything in this world is possible. I got an offer from Paramount pictures to work with Will Smith and do collaboration with him about 5 years ago, when I was in Dubai. At that moment, I thought that this was something unrealistic and, naturally, agreed. Will had a new film “Gemini Man” coming out that premiered in Budapest at that time. As part of this there was a very large PR campaign, where Paramount pictures invited various media personalities from all over the world to attend the premiere and create a unique collaboration with Mr. Smith on the subject of the film.
I was already in Budapest a week later. We were given to understand that the star has a very tight schedule after the premiere and each of the invited people will have about 10 minutes for filming and interaction, so we had to prepare as much as possible.
Everything went perfectly. The concept of the video was a single-frame shot that we heavily enhanced with CGI later. What struck me most was Will’s attitude towards all the people he interacted with. The feeling was that I had not watched films with his participation all my life and dreamed of working together, but quite the opposite.
I concluded that any goal is achievable and nothing is impossible in this world thanks to this experience.
5. What current trends in video content in 2023 can you highlight?
One of the main principles of our company is always to keep up with the times and technologies. One of the highest rates of development of all industries is, perhaps, in the media. What was relevant a couple of months ago today can be considered the last century. That is why you should always keep your finger on the pulse.
Once I’ve heard a very nice phrase: “Either you adapt, or you are written off!” This phrase reflects the principle of my company exactly.
You can’t surprise anyone with ordinary videos now, you need to bring something new to your work that people have not seen yet, and that will move the entire industry forward.
Now I see a very clear trend in the development of neural networks and their use in content creation. You can do absolutely crazy things and optimize a lot of processes with the help of them. I see potential in this at the moment. That is why we are actively studying these technologies and starting to apply them in our projects.
6. Would you like to shoot a video with a Hollywood star? With whom exactly?
At one time I came to the conclusion that I was not very interested in making videos, but I would really like to work with Hollywood stars of the first plan: Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Dwayne Douglas Johnson, involving them in certain advertising projects or making film with them (we are just developing towards movies).
This has been in our plans for a long time, so within 1-3 years we will definitely be able to please many with our new projects.
7. What plans and goals do you set for yourself in developing yourself as an entrepreneur and videographer?
I have a fairly clear path of development: I started with photography in Perm, developed into a videographer, and then moved into the category of professional operators, then directors, won various festivals. Now I am engaged in business development and go into entrepreneurship. I know how all processes are built, I have a certain vision and now I see my role in business development and expansion.
We have financial goals and a clear action plan on how to achieve this. We are actively expanding, looking for new talents, developing and entering new markets, entering into very strong business partnerships and developing new directions every time.
Therefore, my main task as a leader is to see the future, then broadcast it to my team and create the most suitable conditions for them to realize and reveal their talents. We are implementing very large-scale projects and are not going to stop there.
We thank Stas Kasatov for sharing his expertise, current trends, experience and his vision of cinematography and business building with us. We wish him prosperity and the conquest of new heights.
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