An interview with Daria Melnikova, Steampunk Chicago’s hard working resident videographer.
1. When did you begin to work in video production?
I wanted to be a movie director since I was 12 years old. Even in childhood I realized that this is my path in life. In 2000, I started studying TV journalism at the university and received my master’s degree in 2005. While still a student, I realized that it is important to be an independent creator. It is unlikely that you can find a big budget for your short film; without it you do not become famous. It is necessary for me to work on my own with the camera, and to edit video and special effects by myself. At the time, everyone said that I was naive, because a simple news story on television required 3 – 5 people (a camera or two, a journalist, a video editor and a director). Now in 2013, many people work as hands-on independent videographers. I am convinced that I chose the right tactics. :) I can work in any situation, with any budget, and make it look professional. (I hope).
2 What brought you to the United States?
Love. I met my future husband in 2004, and he lived in Chicago. That is the only reason I left Russia.
My first 3 – 4 years of life in America are lost years to me. While my colleagues and classmates grew their careers after university, I was just trying to settle down in my new country.
Now, when someone comes up to me and says something like “It’s impossible to have a serious relationship with a woman from Milwaukee. It is hard to go there from Chicago every time for a date.” I’m just laughing because I remember what sacrifices cost me my love. But I do not regret anything. :)
3. How did you get involved with the Chicago steampunk scene?
I have been involved in role-playing games since 1996. Role-playing is a large and very popular youth subculture and hobby in Russia. We were playing games with 500 – 1500 people based on famous fantasy and science fiction books. Alas, I see that in the United States games like this don’t even come close in scale. I have a dream that one day I will explain to my American friends all the features of Russian role-playing. Like how we could control all the events and strategies with 1000 people! But this is only a dream. My English is not so good yet.
My other hobby is historical costuming. I’m very, very busy with it and I even made a couple of suits in which every detail has been confirmed by historical documents and drawings, and are completely stitched by hand from natural materials. In America, I have tried to do this too, but the company of people from the SCA [Society of Creative Anachronism] did not seem to me to be too comfortable.
Basically, two things brought me to Chicago Steampunk: 1. Longing for my old costume hobby and 2. Carnivale Delirium I. I just really wanted to make a video of the event when I got there.
Two to three years ago, steampunk began to conquer Russia too. Many of my old friends who are fond of 14th – 16th century history moved to steampunk culture. It is also influenced my decision to go steampunk.
4. What kind of camera do you use? What are the benefits?
Five years ago I started with the prosumer Sony HVR-HD1000U. When I bought this camera it was really cheap and a good option. Technology has changed and this camera is no longer enough. So, I have bought a new camera – a Sony NEX-EA50UH. It is the newest pro camcorder from Sony, and it can produce much better footage in Full HD.
I am now able to shoot with two cameras. I also have a lot of equipment such as lights and a big photo booth for filming. I really strive to have everything for the perfect shot.
5. How can someone hire you for an event?
Easily. You can get in contact with me via Facebook or via the Steampunk Chicago site. Or just come up to me and ask. I also always have a list of artists, musicians and performers that I’m glad to work with, just because I love them :)