At 17 years of age, most teenagers are still weighing up their study options as they decide on the right career path for them. But while others his age embark on their final year of high school, Sunshine Coast local Mikayo Mundy is already well on his way to achieving his career goals – both on the water and behind the camera.
Mikayo has been wakeboarding for as long as he can remember, with the sport running in his veins.
“My dad was a professional wakeboarder and used to carry me on the board when I was really little,” Mikayo said.
“I had tried it a few times but it never really stuck until I accidentally turned up to ride one day when I was 10 and the national championships were on. I entered it for fun and made some friends, and it all took off from there.
“My next big competition was the Asia Oceania Championships in Kaosuing, Taiwan. I was 12 and placed third in the under 15s competition.”
Keen to capture his skills, 12-year-old Mikayo began filming himself in action, and after his older brother taught him how to edit them, his side-hobby quickly grew to become a passion in its own right.
“I loved the result and thought, ‘This is really cool’, so I started doing it for some of my friends, watching online tutorials and YouTube to grow my skills. That’s when I became hooked,” Mikayo said.
“Things just expanded from there — others liked the videos I was producing, and I loved to make them, so I thought, ‘Why not take this further?’”
By the end of Year 10, Mikayo said he knew he’d found the perfect career to pursue alongside his wakeboarding and was itching to get started. Confident in his decision, he left school and enrolled in the Diploma of Screen and Media (CUA51015) at TAFE Queensland’s Nambour campus, which he studied three days a week over the course of 12 months.
“Studying the diploma fit into my life seamlessly. Outside of competing, I work at the water park where I train, and I’m an aerial yoga instructor at my mum’s business, so the fact it fit around my life really helped,” he said.
“The diploma has opened up a lot of other opportunities for me. It’s changed my thoughts about filmmaking, and has really made me think about the whole story and what matters most. My videos have really improved from spending that extra time to work all that out.”
Mikayo said the fact that his teacher at TAFE Queensland is out in the industry filming while teaching is what made him a great mentor to learn from.
“It’s awesome — one day he’s teaching us at TAFE, and the next he’s in Melbourne filming something like Nitro Circus,” Mikayo said.
“The course has been super hands on and covers the entire process, from pre-production to post-production. Some of my favourite exercises were being able to shoot news stories and a fashion show.”
After completing his diploma in December 2020 Mikayo was able to fast-track his career by jumping straight into the second year of a Bachelor of Screen and Media Production. At the same time he used his newfound skills to build a healthy portfolio of clients under his freelance business, Kayo Media.
Mikayo said his experience on both sides of the give him a unique perspective that is beneficial to many of his clients, which include international brands like Hyperlite and Jetpilot, as well as gyms and other local businesses.
“I’m super pumped because I’ll actually complete my degree before my older brother — I’ll turn 18 with a degree under my belt,” Mikayo said.
“One of my highlights so far has been filming some of the Australian Red Bull riders, including Felix Georgii for Jetpilot, which I filmed for over six weeks here on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast,” he said.
“In terms of producing wakeboarding and other sports videos, being a wakeboarder myself definitely helps in the creative process. Putting what I’ve learned through the diploma together with what I know from wakeboarding, I’m really able to work out what the best angles would be that gives the viewer a greater sense of the skill and effort it takes to ride and do some of the tricks we do.”
In the long term, Mikayo has his sights set on the big screen, but for the moment, he’s keen to continue pursuing both of his passions.
“I definitely want to make a few more wakeboard films for myself, travelling around to different places. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to bring both my passions together,” he said.
“I also want to continue doing freelance film work, but eventually when my body’s had enough I’d like to get into the cinema industry,” he said.
One thing is certain though — Mikayo Mundy’s run has only just begun..