We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott Takai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking I believe is the number one thing that will make or break your career. Every major growth period of my life and career always came from taking some sort of uncomfortable risk.
When I first started out as a filmmaker, I had the belief that I had to graduate from college and get a job within my field. But my now mentor and best friend told me that getting a degree for video production was gonna be a huge waste of money, and I was better off dropping out and working for him as an intern and gaining experience. 7 years later I’m running my own production company full time and I work with a wide range of commercial clients.
Had I not made that leap of faith, I probably wouldn’t have been introduced to the concept of entrepreneurship.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I run a commercial video production company called, “Takai Media”. It’s gone through different iterations over the years but now I’m working on niching down into doing action sports content. Growing up as a skateboarder, I always enjoyed guerilla style filmmaking where we hit the streets and filmed our tricks, so my passion has always been within the action sports world.
One of the things I’m really proud of is the crowdfunding content I’ve produced which has raised my clients over $1,000,000 of revenue. To see those kinds of results is crazy to me and it really helped with setting some of my work apart.
Getting to where I am now business-wise was far from easy. It was definitely made easier through mentorships. I feel that I overcame a lot of my challenges by going against the grain on some of the traditional advice I was given.
For example, a lot of filmmakers are taught that we have to invest a lot of our money into gear to grow, but I found that investing into creating passion projects is what’s really gonna set you apart. Anyone can buy a nice camera and make nice images, but what happens is you’re doing the same level of work as before but on a nicer camera. Versus if you create something with what you have and without a client looking over your shoulder, you can create a portfolio of work that attracts the kinds of clients you really want to work with.
I followed this approach by filming skate videos and trying to add a cinematic quality to it. What ended up happening is the right eyes saw the content and it immediately stood out to them, they referred me to a company that was looking for someone who specifically shot skate related content and had commercial experience. They ended up hiring me since my portfolio fit what they were looking for and I went from charging a few hundred as a videographer to charging thousands producing commercial campaigns for companies.
Had I just spent my time buying new gear instead of shooting the skate videos, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s a lot of people that come to mind haha. But the ones that really come to mind are:
My mentor Eric Cire Hensman. If it wasn’t for his willingness to take me under his wing, it’s hard for me to know where I’d realistically be. Something that I never found in school was someone willing to give me harsh critiques of my work. My upbringing taught me to have thick skin so he was actually very surprised that I didn’t take the critiques personally and just looked at it as him wanting me to improve. I never aspired to be an entrepreneur, but I pretty much fell into it under his mentorship. Not only have I grown as an artist and an entrepreneur under his wing, but I’ve also grown into a more mature and well rounded individual through his teachings.
The second shoutout I wanna give is to my parents. It’s common in asian households for the parents to want their kids to focus on academics, extra curriculars, and actually finish college. They always taught me that it’s more important to be happy with what I’m doing than to have the best grades or to have a lot of money. So I always followed what interested me because of it. I was never a school person and even though they really wanted me to finish school, they were supportive of my decision to go into filmmaking full time even though they had no idea what would come of it.
Last but not least I want to give a shoutout to my girlfriend, Lily. She’s the one who always comforts me every time the stress of running my own business becomes overwhelming. Every time big things happen for me, she’s always the first person to want to celebrate them. She’s always the one who reminds me that I need to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Having someone like her to celebrate everything with always makes accomplishments much more enjoyable.
Josh Quintero Casey Reynolds Matthew Robinson Fidel Melara