XCE Factor Insights: Interview With Vera Ushkarova

Vera Ushkarova talks about her journey at XCE Factor project.

XCE Factor Insights: Interview With Vera Ushkarova

XCE Factor project is a talent show for all students of HSE. Now they are going online and even have their own App.

Vera Ushkarova
Vera Ushkarova
Vera, please, tell us about your way to Higher School of Economics. How did you make decision when choosing the university and educational program?

I chose Media and Communications program when I was in the 10th grade, as I studied at the HSE lyceum, so I had no problems choosing the University. Moreover, I have always wanted to work in the field of media, but I didn't want to be just connected to journalism. I wanted something more modern, more digital, so the Media and Communications seemed to be the more interesting and in-demand direction.

How did you get involved with the XSE FACTOR project?

It was funny since I never participated in student life, but in my third year I really wanted to try everything the University and life could offer. I started working and taking part in various projects. I was walking through our campus and saw the poster «Do you want to do a project for Netflix and get 15 credits? ». At that moment, I had no credits at all, and for our program, in 4 years I needed to get 16 credits in project work to graduate, and I urgently needed them. Plus, I wanted to do a project for Netflix, read the description, and realized that XCE FACTOR is exactly what I really want to do. Producing was my thing.

Who are the organizers of the project and how do you get along?

Yura Karchagin was the person to created a school of producing mass film projects. He is a graduate of Higher School of Economics and has been doing shows in HSE for ten years. First, it was «Miss HSE» and then a talent show for everyone. Three years ago, he created this school, and every year a number of students who want to become producers come there. There is also a girl who has stayed since the very first year. Now she, together with Yura, runs everything. Of course, Yura is still the Big Boss. As for me, I have good relationships with him and with Lisa; they are very sincere and cool guys.

What are you busy with now in the project?

I am doing my own «mini-project»: making photos of the XCE FACTOR App and thus getting to know them. In general, now it is a very difficult stage of work because our goal is to hold a show, the casting of which is just going on in the mobile app. Now it is quite difficult to conduct offline shows due to the coronavirus, so most likely we will not be hosting the show. However, we have a lot of resources, and we are now thinking about how to use them in a cool way. So far, this is a very difficult question, and we are solving it right now.

Where and how often do you go to meetings?

We now have short meetings. Previously, we used to gather in HSE buildings every Saturday from 6 pm to 11 pm. But then we would still continue working. Our longest meeting lasted for 14 hours! From six in the evening until eight in the morning. It was online.

How did the COVID19 affect communication in the team and the entire project as a whole?

In fact, the pandemic had a very strong impact on the whole project, since we were closed for quarantine in March. We should have had a show in June, and that is all, we are not doing it. We have switched up all the work to the app and social media. All the time we were constantly working online from March to June. It was very hard, we worked millions of hours in Zoom, everyone was exhausted and very tired. Due to the fact that it was insanely energy-intensive work, we finally decided not to work in such a crazy non-stop online mode.

Are there any members you now continue to communicate? Do you remember anyone with especially bright character or skills?

I remember the very first semi-finalist of the XCE Factor. He was so active in all our activities: he called his friends and promoted our mobile app on his social networks. He is just a super open and super friendly dude, we talked a lot with him. He dances Experimental. There are also a few guys who actively show themselves, and we communicate with them as well. We have a chat of all semi-finalists and from time to time we chat there. There is Vlad Korolev, who sings very cool, and Emil, who plays the marimba.  In short, there are many cool dudes among our participants!

Can you share some advice or life hacks with those who want to participate in creative projects at HSE?

I want to advise all students who want to participate in such creative projects: firstly, to decide on the direction they want to develop in. Secondly, to take their best, to work very hard, to explore, to offer something new, and to experiment. Because creative projects can help in work and in finding new connections, new contacts. Thus, you can get to a cool job and make awesome acquaintances! However, all this will be provided that the person will really work and will show initiative.

Text by
Maryana Selezneva