MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Professional dancer-turned-director Elena Virata, who has a client roster composed of H&M Philippines, AVON, adidas, Johnnie Walker, Blackbough, Havaianas, and more, has signed on with production house Arcade Film Factory. She joins Campaign Brief Asia’s Philippine Production Company of the Year and is overall #2 in Asia, helping grow the production house’s roster to 10 directors this 2023.
Elena’s first profession was dancing, having spent over 10 years of professional dancing with A-Team Philippines. Through her trips around the world with her team, she would carry around a GoPro to document her experiences. This, for her, was when she discovered an interest in filmmaking.
At first, she started just making “vibes,” combining the scenery she captured with music that best jived with the visuals. This passion burned into an intense desire to learn filmmaking further, teaching herself through YouTube videos and finding mentors in the industry like Miguel Sotto. “I take pride in spending 2-3 hours a day learning filmmaking on YouTube alone,” Elena said. “I started with editing. I also shadowed with professionals and did lots of editing gigs, until I slowly added more skillsets that helped me become the director I am today.”
In her two years as a full-time director, Elena has since worked with brands like AVON, adidas, Blackbough swimwear, Johnnie Walker, and more. But among those, the highest-profile work was that for H&M, a national campaign where she worked with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, as well as other female celebrities Andrea Brillantes, Kim Chiu, and Jodi Sta Maria.
“The female perspective really makes a difference,” Elena recalled. “As a female director, you get more trust from the people you work with. For example, when you work with female celebrities, the connection is different. It’s very helpful to have a female director because these celebrities feel safer with me in vulnerable situations, like when they are in bikini and tropical wear, as with the H&M project.”
Eager to make a mark, Elena has been keen to work with clients looking for fresh, new perspectives for their brands. Elena remarked: “It’s such a male-dominated industry we’re in, and feminine energy is much needed. It’s time for stories of powerful women uplifting each other. It’s about damn time.”
Nick Santiago, Vice President of Arcade Film Factory, exclaimed, “We’re very lucky to kick off Arcade’s 2023 with Elena joining the team! Hers is a much-needed energy in the Philippine advertising industry, as well as in Asia. We’re excited to support her directorial career with our production teams and capabilities so she can achieve the goal she told us when we met her: to put the Philippines on the global map for fresh filmmaking.”