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Meet Arina Balerina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arina Balerina. 

Hi Arina, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Many of us are accustomed to the fact that the work of a videographer at weddings is more about men. 

They are always on good terms with technology, and they seem to be more resilient, they can work day and night. These are all, of course, stereotypes. Which, as you know, need to be changed. 

That’s why I am a videographer and founder of Balerina Films proved with my own example. Here, however, it is necessary to clarify that I started my business as an individual entrepreneur in 2013 in a small city in Russia, but later my future husband Alex joined me in 2015. 

We were pretty successful at that time, shooting around 40 weddings per year, and charging a little above the average prices on the Russian market. But then, in 5 years of hard working and shooting weddings in Russia and Europe, we decided to make our life more complicated and move across the globe to US. 

We loved being successful where we were living, but we were dreaming of something bigger. I always thought I will move to Europe. 

After visiting LA and other cities in 2016 and traveling there for 5 months, we fell in love with the US. We decided to move to Los Angeles in few years later. 

We fell in love with the US, for obvious reasons. It’s almost everybody’s dream to achieve results and became well paid and known all over the world. LA – is the place to be. 

We are both dancers with my husband, I dance street style, popping for 12 years, Alex is a b-boy, we found ourselves in a great community of dancers as well at the time, tried to build our connections with different artists, singers, and dancers. Also started to make our first steps in wedding industry as well. 

Later in 2018 we were moved to the States and started videography business from scratch. 

Then in March 2018, we had that bride who booked us for the first time for a multiday 2 days event. It was a Pakistani wedding with a very unusual setup and idea. They were Beatles lovers, she was a designer, he was a musician. My mind was blown when I got there. So many colors, so many cultural aspects… 

later we were at an Ethiopian wedding on top of the Hollywood hills at an old mansion, and the next we had a wedding in the Bay area, in Los Gatos, with a wonderful American couple, we are still friends with them! 

Slowly people start to know us, and we were created out videos based on their personalities and our experience. We have our own particular style like no one does. It’s more modern, fun, and energetic. It’s still has a classic approach but with the modern twist. 

We are truly passionate about our craft; I am not sure something like that is possible without real pure love to what you doing in life. 

By the pandemic crazy year 2020 we were fully booked here with 45 weddings. and they all got rescheduled to nobody_knows_when… 

I thought to myself at that time, the month after, the immigration process was much more challenging for me, than anything yet, I think we will survive. 

And we got through this. 🙂 

Now we have a team of twelve people, photographers, videographers, editors, and my assistant. We have a very ambitious goals and already living a dream life. 

We travel around US, covering most epic and beautiful weddings all over US. 

For the last couple years, our Photos and videos got published in Maharani weddings, Junebug, Mandala weddings, Marhta Stewart weddings, Wedmegood, etc. 

I Judge worldwide videographer’s competitions as Golden Lens Awards 2020, Hard wedding festival, Weva awards, etc. 

We are fully booked for 2022 for the team of 12 professionals, as for now in December 2021, and doubled our prices for the past year, because many people in love with our style and we are telling their stories like no one does. 

Also, me and Alex employed 10 people so far and contribute to at least 6 people’s full living expenses and partly for others. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It’s been super hard. Life of an immigrant is never easy, you have a very complicated system for legalization, completely new rules of life in general, new language, and zero relatives and friends. Also, it’s very expensive too. When you already know your worth, it’s challenging to make someone believe in you and pay money for the great service. When you have zero connection and understanding of the market, it’s very frustrating. 

I remember being on the very bottom of emotional burnout at the beginning for 4-6 months, Not understanding how to pitch myself to the audience. Also, my English was so bad at the time. 

Step by step we started our journey. The money we were saved for a living finished fast in LA, I’ve been sending dozens of emails, DM’s every day to planners, companies, but with no success. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I started alone girl with a camera in a small city in Russia 9 years ago. Later in 2015, my future husband started to learn from me and help with filming weddings. In few years after that, we had a team of 4 people before moving to US. 

Now we have a team of twelve people, we are based in Los Angeles. We mainly work with Russian professionals, immigrants. With some of them, we met many years ago on set in Europe and Russia, and others met after we moved to US. The similar vision and style connect us and we are growing together. But, by the way, we have an Indian in our team. He’s from Texas. For six months he wrote to me everywhere – by mail, direct – the guy so wanted to work in our team. Such persistence even frightened me at first. Finally, we had a phone call and decided to work together for a first time. He drove to me from Houston to Dallas, just to meet us and work together for a wedding. After the shot we got along so well. Now we regularly shoot weddings all over America. The feeling that we have known him for a hundred years. 

We also working with a great team of editors from all over the world. Some of them been working with us for 3-4 years. I believe in a success by building small company of creatives with similar taste and goals. When I just started building a team, I imagined myself dating with 8 men at the same time, everyone needs attention and behave differently. It’s been very hard to balance between emotional and rational side of the process. But later I started to know more about that. Human relationships are never easy, especially when they are long-term. 

My goal is to inspire ones who work with us and be inspired by them. And together we will be the number one in the wedding industry and will bring our style to the new level. 

Our goals are very ambitious, soon you will know! 

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I’ve never had a mentor in a classic way. I am self-taught artist. The best teacher is life itself for me. But I ask lots of questions myself and others, I think this is very helpful for my success and growing as an artist. For 8 years of doing videography, I connected and had honor to talk to many great people, and they surely shaped us through our way of artists. 

When I just moved to US in 2018, I came to so many networking events, wanted to know as many as possible people from the wedding industry, but I in 6-7 month after that I started to notice that that connections, I gained never been profitable, I started notice they are more like waiting time for me. so not all networking events are quality events. for obvious reasons all events were stopped on 2020, I am feeling they coming back slowly, but I am the different person now. 

Many people want to know me and ask questions, but I don’t have free time anymore because of work. Life is interesting journey. 

I wish I have a mentor for life, but generally saying I find my mom as a mentor and a biggest inspiration in some ways, especially in loving life and being a free-spirit happy woman. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Maria Shalaeva

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