We had the good fortune of connecting with Dani Scott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dani, how do you think about risk?
I love taking risks! Smart risks. I love bungee jumping, sky diving, and white water rafting. I have traveled all over the world by myself with nothing but a backpack and the desire for adventure! I just know what country I’m going to and know when I have to be back to the airport. No itinerary. Just letting it all happen, come what may. I have met so many people, some good and some bad, seen things I never would have seen if I was catering my life to other people or staying on the beaten path, and pushed myself within my comfort zone. And I’ve taken that idea of knowing what I want but having a willingness to let it happen without resistance has helped my professional life in film. Film is nothing but risks, but the rewards are so wonderful when those risks pay off. I think some people view risks as black and white. You are either a risk taker who puts everything on the line or you never take chances and sit on the safe side lines. Like most things in life, there is a big grey area. And the key to that grey area lies in common sense and our own gut and intuition. And like I said, with that shoot from the hip style, I have met both good and bad people in my travels. I have never had an incident that I could not handle, no one has ever hurt me. I also chose not to drink while traveling in my 20’s by myself and limited it to one drink in my 30s. Common sense. One night I was staying at a hostel in Turkey. There were a group of awesome Aussie’s staying there that I connected with. I could tell the owner of the hostel liked me, probably a little too much. He offered me a free upgrade to have my own room. I chose to stay in another room with one of the Aussie’s. In the middle of the night, the owner came looking for me, drunk as all hell. He found me in a room with other people and stammered around asking about my other room, if I wanted to stay with him, and if he could escort me my proper room. The Aussie and I both told him to bugger off and they kept protectively close to me for the rest of my stay. Gut feeling and acting on it. And I feel like the successes I’ve had in life in general are because I listened to my gut. It gets quieter and quieter if you ignore it. Your conscience and instincts are there for a reason. I apply that instinct to my business risks as well. If the risk I am considering jeopardizes my ability to eat, have a safe place to live (I mean, I can always go back to my mom’s, but that’s a safety net I never want to use), or have access to any basic needs, I don’t do it. Spending every dime you have and next months rent on a risk is stupidity, not bravery. If I have to (and I have had to), I take the time to work the second job to pay for it. I’ll Lyft drive, dog sit, or grab a crap restaurant job just to give myself a cushion to take a risk. We need a place to live, food to eat, and safety to thrive as artists. If you have your basic needs met, you can build on that and risk the luxuries. Recently, I spent a decent chunk of my savings to invest in something I truly believed it. In a pandemic when I didn’t have a job. Why? Because I trusted my gut. My basic needs were met, I had a small excess, colleagues willing to take the same risk, and time that I would never have normally. I trusted my gut to take a chance and see a payoff. I have absolutely no regrets. Best decision I have made in a long time. It was scary but the payoff was beyond any financial gain it could, would, and will give me. Finding balance in taking risks and being safe is not rocket science. Most of the time when we talk about risks it’s financial. Even if the risk is moving across the country, what you’re really worried about is being stranded across the country with no money and no resources. If you can have your basic needs met, a small excess of cash (not credit), and a humble attitude that allows you to take a garbage job to work back up; the big grey field of risks that you can manage will open up wide.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently wrapping up post production on a feature film and I am very excited about. My passion is film. I love to make movies, both acting and producing. I went to school for acting in Seattle at the University of Washington. After that I took an internship in casting to learn more about the process. I ended up working in casting for many years in Seattle and LA. I worked on shows such Revenge and Criminal Minds, and cast many films, pilots, and commercials in my time casting. I loved working in the film industry and knew it was right for me, but I missed performing and had so many ideas for stories I wanted to tell. After months of taking improv classes on the down low, I had the tough conversation with my wonderful bosses about leaving casting behind to focus my time on acting and producing. Since leaving casting, I have found personal and professional fulfillment working on films, shorts, pilots, commercials, and stage shows. After producing several shorts and a few pilots, I turned my attention toward feature films. 2020 was a scary year (as we’re all well aware) but was also an opportunity to have the time to create something beautiful, artistically and professionally.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First stop: donut friend. In Highland Park. This is important because stop two is Town Pizza down the block. Creme Brûlée donuts and delicious New York style pizza. They will be stuffed and happy for under $10. And yes, I get the donuts first. Priorities. My favorite thing to do is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sometimes I take my dog there for hours just to leisurely stroll around enjoying the beauty and splendor–Just kidding. I’d never. It’s just nasty there, and everybody knows it. I do, however, LOVE Echo Lake Park. I love seeing all the little turtles, the coffee stand is great, and now they let dogs on the swan boats! Down the street is Sage Cafe. The best restaurant in LA thats not tacos and sushi. (Sky’s Gourmet Tacos for tacos and Roll Call for Sushi-happy hour all day- Blue Crab Roll-you’re welcome) Point Dume at Malibu is stunning. I love to rock climb and it’s great for that, but it’s also great if you love to lay on the beach and to watch people fall 10ft with the safety of a rope. You can hear us scream with a picturesque background while you sit sipping a beer with a smile. El Matador beach is just a few miles from here and it’s the best beach for the ‘gram’. Americana mall is better than the Grove. There I said it. The Grove is small but pretty. The Americana is HUGE. But the best place to shop in LA is the Fashion District. Shop the outskirts for the best deals. The actual Santee Alley is more expensive and claustrophobic. Also, pee before you go and limit your drink consumption. THERE ARE NO FREE BATHROOMS ANYWHERE AND THEY ARE ALL GROSS. (Lessons learned hard on this one.) If you want to impress people with the best brunch and coolest bar with killer happy hour tapas then check out Escala in Koreatown. Brunch is like a club at 1am, but it’s the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday and it’s the best people watching in the city. The Kimchi Mushroom empanadas are incredible. Yes, it is Korean-Columbian fusion. Life makes sense again. I love DTLA. The best rooftop bars are The Ace, Perch, and Freehand. The Freehand has the best pool and vibes. They are all expensive but fun. LA Cafe, Cole’s, and the Arts District are the best places to hang out and eat. LA Cafe has great food, Cole’s has a speakeasy, and Arts has skee ball. Best drunk birthdays there–I think.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A huge shout out to my producing partner, T.C. De Witt and our entire filming crew including Devin, Jon, Kalan, Ali, Chad, Courtney, Gabriel, Jeska, and Magen!
Paul Smith Photography