How Rami Kalla Created Point in Time Studios and Broke into the Multimedia Industry
When I took my first job out of school, working for the Fortune 500 company, General Mills, I thought that I was set for life. I had imagined myself working up the corporate ladder to an Executive position in Minneapolis! Then, about 3 years into the job, I became extremely disenchanted and I realized that I was not living to my true purpose. I would come home every night irritable and cranky. Something inside of me was burning to come out!
I always had the dream of starting a business and becoming an Entrepreneur, but I had no idea where to start. So I went down to our local Tempe, AZ Library, this was pre-Google, to start researching business ideas. I painfully shuffled through book after book, trying to find something that both inspired me and actually had financial promise. Then I found a business idea with a ton of potential, an Elderly relocation company. I wrote the business plan and I started marketing to customers. However, my first potential customer was not very pleasant and it made me quickly realize that I am just trading my Corporate job for yet another Career that I would not enjoy.
I always had a passion for filmmaking
So I went back to the drawing board! As I was doing my research, I kept coming across business ideas in the world of multi-media, still a very new industry in 2001! I always had a passion for filmmaking, as I had been producing short films with friends since my Father brought home our first camcorder at 10 years old. I would write and direct my own shorts and cast/bribe my friends and family to appear in them! However, I had no idea that I was planting a seed for my future!
I then had the idea to possibly start my own Video Production Company in Phoenix! I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I knew I had to do it or die trying! So, similar to the “Think and Grow Rich” story from Napoleon Hill, I burned my boats! To add to the stress, I had a 3-year-old and a newborn son at the time. Nonetheless, I saved up some money and gave notice at my job!
Going The Distance
To make ends meet, I would take small construction jobs on the side, which was also great for losing weight! I then started the tedious task of cold calling and offering my services for free, just to build my demo reel. After three long months, I landed my first paying client! I was beyond excited that someone was actually going to be crazy enough to pay me to do something that I truly loved! I quickly realized that there was a need for high-quality video production in Phoenix and quality customer service!
I recall being extremely nervous during the interview
I began filming small events in Phoenix and making highlight reels to play on DVD. We eventually graduated into making some small commercials for local television. At the time, it was just me, and I knew that if I continued juggling all of the parts of my business myself — from sales and marketing to film and editing — I would never grow my business into a self-standing entity. I also knew that I could no longer meet with clients and edit videos out of my home. So I set out to find my first employee and my first office. Soon enough, I discovered my dream studio, and I made an offer to lease. I remember that the landlord made me interview for the lease, as I did not have much in the way of business history and they wanted to make sure that I had a vision for the company. I recall being extremely nervous during the interview. Lucky for me, I thrive in stressful situations. They accepted my offer and I had my first office! As an added bonus to myself for scoring my very first business office, I requested my landlord enclose a large room. The request was accepted, and I made it into my very own theatre room!
Building the Team
After getting my office space squared away, I needed people! I can’t remember exactly how Sean found me, but he reached out and said that he wanted to work for me. He was fairly young at the time and didn’t have much work experience, but I saw true, raw talent in him and a desire to disrupt the video production industry here in Phoenix. We clicked immediately and we went to work trying to build something from the ground up! We worked tireless hours, sometimes overnight, just to stay afloat. Then about a year later, we started to receive some traction and people started to recognize us for our work and style!
Of course, back then, we were filming on MiniDV and YouTube wasn’t even alive yet. However, once YouTube came online, there was a huge opportunity to get into corporate marketing videos! We were now able to tell our customers’ stories and upload them to their websites for free! This truly revolutionized our industry!
true artists need to be in a fun, collaborative atmosphere in order to thrive
I knew that I had to continue growing my team beyond Sean, and I and I reached out to the Art Institute of Phoenix for help! I then hired another editor and a 3D Animator. At first, I struggled with trying to balance a professional, yet still fun environment. I quickly realized that true artists need to be in a fun, collaborative atmosphere in order to thrive. So I loosened up some of our policies and gave our team the freedom to be themselves and be Creative! I didn’t know it at the time, but I was setting the tone for our culture at Point in Time Studios.
Where We Are Now
From there, we began to see exponential growth! Point in Time Studios started making videos for companies all over the country, from Coca-Cola to PetSmart, McDonald’s and Ford Motor Company. Fast forward several years, we began working more in 3D animation and more recently — about 5 years ago — we invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality! This has now allowed us to expand internationally into London and Spain!
I have always strived to keep Point in Time Studios on the cutting edge of our industry and I truly believe that virtual and augmented reality is the future of how people will consume interactive media. I am proud to have some of the most talented artists in the video production industry at our studio in Phoenix, and I love the collaborative atmosphere we have created!
As for my corporate job, well, I never looked back! I still have the photo of my last day of work at General Mills, and although I enjoyed the people, it is a constant reminder to me that no matter how hard my day may seem, I will never go back! I am truly blessed to be living my dream of owning my own video production studio in Phoenix; blood, sweat, and tears and all.