Vadim Yelizarov is often behind the scenes, where he can be found working behind the camera, editing the website, taking still photos and editing. A founding member of Parliament Studios and an original member of the Start-Up team, Vadim certainly had many stories to tell us about his work on the show, as well the multiple businesses that he has founded.
Tell us all a little about yourself – maybe something people may not know:
I was in the Marine College in Russia, but by the time I finished school, the Soviet Union had disbanded. In the Soviet Union, you were proud to be an officer of the fleet, but in Riga (Latvia), the fleet of the country was so small, and as a naval officer, I didn’t want to be a part of it. In 1997 I moved here and opened a Russian deli. I spent the first three years in the United States without really seeing the United States - I’d get to the deli before 9 and get home after 9, and most of the people I’d see every day were Russian customers, so I sold the business, and started studying information technology.
Within a year and a half, I picked up a government job for Oakland County, which I didn’t find very fulfilling. But when films started coming to Michigan in the mid 2000’s, I met a bunch producers that didn’t know the city, they had no infrastructure, and they asked me a ton of questions. I thought to myself, if Hollywood is coming to Detroit, and they need information, it would be stupid to not take advantage of this opportunity. Since I was more of a technical guy and not so good at meetings and making connections, I called up my friend Jenny and asked if she wanted to partner on a business helping people with filming in Detroit. We made a website with a list of movie extra actors, locations for shooting, businesses, animals, cars, anything that movies might require for shooting. We told producers that instead of them asking all of these questions, they could come to us and we would help. We started having casting calls for our actor database, and on one of these casting calls, we met David London, who joined the team as well. Then Gary came to us with an idea for START UP, and here we are.
How would you describe your role on the show?
Primarily, I am a camera operator, and with my IT experience, I also do work on the website. But we all [the production staff] kinda do whatever needs to be done.
What is your favorite episode of Start-Up?
My favorite episode is probably Season 3 Episode 12, when we profiled Mantunuck Oyster Bar. It was a nice day for shooting, and the owner was really down-to-earth as well - he acted like he was just one of the employees, just one of the guys. We went on his pontoon boat, and when we got to the lake, he jumped right in the water, grabbed the rope, and just started pulling the boat in. So it was a nice day, an interesting business, an interesting guy, an interesting subject, and a good day of shooting, plus afterwards we got to have really good food.
In general, I like the episodes with the simpler businesses. With the simpler businesses, people can watch the show and say, “Maybe I’m unemployed now, but I can make bracelets, or candles, or shoes, and do something like this for myself”.
If you were to start a new business right now, what type would it be? Why?
I actually own a t-shirt company, Detroit T-Shirts. Sometime ago, I realized that I hated all of the typical Detroit t-shirts. There are a few decent ones, but the many of them have very aggressive designs, and if the image of Detroit is that Detroit is bad, or that Detroit is rude, or that Detroit is against the rest of the world, then no one will like Detroit. So I came up with a few designs that were more welcoming; I wanted to change it up and show that Detroit could be nice and friendly. Now I have about fifty designs on my website, http://www.detroit-t-shirts.com/, and all of my designs promote a positive message about Detroit.
If I started a new business though, I would want to start a real estate business.. I took the class, I passed the exam on the first try, and now I have my real estate license. I haven’t worked in real estate yet, but I still pay for the license because I want to do it in the future.
If someone were to take your phone out of your hand and listen to your music, what is the first song that would play?
I only have two albums on my phone, and both of them are deep house albums. That’s something I can listen to in the background that can keep me going. If it’s got a good beat, I can run to it, I can work for hours to it, I can workout to it, I can make t-shirts to it, etc. It helps me stop thinking and just go.