A Jump into the Deep End
By Allyson Roberts
David Schott’s bio reads more like an extreme sports bucket list than a résumé. It includes “shooting aerials from planes and airships, trekking through the swamp, ice diving, and diving in extreme environments for the perfect shot.” He has scuba dived to famous shipwrecks, including the USS Monitor and the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria, and built cameras to document the wreckage of the Titanic.
This certainly isn't the résumé of someone in the financial sector, yet that's the career path Schott took for nearly 10 years after graduating from Lebanon Valley College in 1998 and Widener in 2004 with his MBA. He worked first as a financial adviser and then in sales, all while reserving his free time for his true passion: cave diving.
Shortly after meeting fellow diver Becky Kagan, however, Schott took the plunge of his life in 2007. The two turned their passion for diving into their life's work when they launched Liquid Productions, LLC, a video production company that specializes in high-definition video, 3D stereography, and still photography above and under water. Today, they remain partners in business and life—they married in 2009.
The Schotts guided Liquid Productions to profitability three years after startup—a remarkable feat considering that diving gear runs them about $20,000 per person, their cameras cost at least $10,000 each, and housings to protect the cameras underwater cost $10,000. They often travel for a job with upwards of 60 cases holding millions of dollars worth of gear. "Especially in this economy, you have to be smart where you spend your money, whether it's on equipment or marketing," Schott said.
He handles most of the logistics of running the business while his wife, a longtime photojournalist, is the primary videographer. In addition to participating in dives and shoots, Schott's double duty on the business end has him scheduling the projects that come in for Liquid Productions, including the arrangement of travel and equipment transport.
The company has few competitors when it comes to shooting in extreme environments like caves or 300 feet below the water's surface, Schott said. "We're among just a handful of companies in the world shooting under water in 3D," he said.
Given its niche in the marketplace, Liquid Productions has quickly amassed an impressive portfolio. Most notably, Schott and his wife each won an Emmy in the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Suncoast Chapter's "Feature News Report" category and an Edward R. Murrow award for their work documenting a dive in Florida's Eagle's Nest cave. Their footage supplemented a story about the cave's appeal on WTSP-TV in Tampa.
For their award-winning dive, the Schotts were in the water for about three hours,
lugging a 40-pound camera and 500 watts of HID lighting through narrow passages. "My
job has allowed me to do things that nobody has ever done and see things others have
never seen," he said. Schott recently shared an underwater discovery with a group
of five high school students from Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Mich. He and
his wife were recruited to participate in Project Shiphunt, an archaeological expedition
and an hour-long documentary for Current TV. It challenged the high schoolers to hunt
for yet-to-be-found sunken ships in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and
Lake Huron. Using the latest sonar equipment to scan the bottom of the lake, the students
identified two targets and then called upon Schott and the other divers to investigate.
In the end, the group identified two ships from the 1800s that had previously gone
Schott and his wife's work can be found on broadcast television, in documentary films, and in museums, among other outlets. More information, including videos, photographs and up-to-date news about Liquid Productions can be found on the company's website, www.LiquidProductions.com.