Close up interview with videographer Steve Katz

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. 

I’ve had a minimum of four careers so far, not counting the odd temporary ones.  My first passion that wasn’t fixed to another person was to the theatre. In attempting to earn a living as an actor in NYC, I worked on a few soap operas, a number of Off-Off Broadway plays, a bunch of print ads, and a bunch of movies, including Tootsie and Kramer vs. Kramer (both with Dustin Hoffman), and Working Girl, with Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. While chasing fame, I also drove a NYC taxi for a long time, waited tables, and earned a Master’s in teaching Special Education, which I did both in NYC and later in Honolulu. I also started a video production company, which I still run when I’m not riding my fold-up bike around the world as I am now. You can check it out at www.actonevideo.tvThere are some videos I’ve done on that site, including interviews with some Hawaii governors and a Senator, and the woman who would be the Queen, Princess Abigail Kawananakoa. In 2009 I received another Master’s Degree – this one in Psychological Counseling, with an emphasis in  Marriage and Family Therapy.
All of my careers have had the single theme of really wanting to know what makes people do what they do. Teaching people with learning problems, acting, making videos about people and counseling; they all require someone who just is curious about how humans work.
Biography: Paul Levitt, Artist
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Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your creative business?

I am inspired lately by my wife, Tamara Moan, who seems to love everything she does. She has managed to cobble together many different artistic paths that have the common theme of making her happy. Likewise, what inspires me is that stuff that makes me feel better about myself and the rest of the world when I’m doing it. I feel that way when I’m running on the beach, meditating, writing, counseling, teaching, doing video, feeling like I’ve helped someone.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you work? 

That is mysterious. Ideas pop into my head and if I’m in the proper receptive state of mind, I will take a chance and try it on.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you? 

Forgetful, funny, gregarious, immature, happy, improvisatory (doesn’t follow instructions)

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

Newspaper delivery boy. I did this job for six years. It paid for my first international adventure, and I’ve been in love with travel ever since.
When I was 12 or 13 years-old, I delivered 59 copies of the NY Post with the giant headline, “Edith Piaf, French Songbird Dies.”. The next day in French class the teacher gave us a pop quiz. “Who was Edith Piaf?”. I wrote, “an Italian Opera singer.”

Describe your day at work? 

I arise half an hour before sunrise,, have coffee, play a word on my Internet Scrabble games, check the NY Times to make sure the world is still here, go run 4 miles on the beach, do an hour and a half of stretching/meditation/swimming.Then I return home andeither work with clients doing counseling or work on video projects, or do some writing.

Music Video: Something in the Water
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Tell us about your process for working with clients? 

Whether it’s counseling or video or teaching, I see my job as first helping the client clarify their goals. What would be different in their lives if they achieved their goals. I like asking “the miracle question, “if tomorrow morning you woke up and everything was perfect, what would we see if we were watching a video of you?”

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?

The struggle as an artist I don’t think is any different than everyone’s struggle – figuring out what we want and how to get it. Ironically most of the time it isn’t until we surrender and stop trying to get what we think we want that we get what we need to make us happy.
Kiama, Wollongong NSW Australia

Tell us about how you prioritise your work

My big problem is that other than a having finally created the discipline to take care of the first two hours of each morning, I am terrible at prioritizing. The last person to tug my sleeve usually gets my attention, other than making sure I keep all my promises of being where I said I would be at any given time.  I guess it’s really important to me to follow through on commitments I’ve made, and that takes priority. It’s also important to me to get the bills paid.
Documentary: Washington Place
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How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)? 

The most important contacts are the ones that I’ve nurtured over any years. I try to stay open to meeting new people, but at this point in my life, mostly I work with people I’ve known for many years.

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

I try not to give advice and I advise others to do the same.

Tell us about your trip around the world on your bicycles with your wife Tamara.

This trip began with a kind of frustration. I was very unhappy some years back, and I thought well, I might just as well get on my bike and pedal around the world. I mentioned this in the very first real conversation I had with Tamara as we were riding in a long bike ride in Honolulu. I asked her what she was looking for, and she said she would like to find someone and settle down, and I said I wanted to ride my bike around the world. She said, “I can do that.” Her engagement ring was a fold-up Bike Friday.  We’re just beginning. After Australia the plan is Hanoi, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, South Africa, Namibia, Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, London, Massachusetts, Ny, Hawaii.
Wollongong Beach, NSW Australia

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

Like to see both my kids happy. Maybe it’s not too late to go back and end up doing a Broadway show.

What is your proudest moment so far? 

Was very happy to be there when my kids were born, was very happy at both my weddings, was very proud to get a short piece published in the NY Times, proud to have run a Marathon in under 3 hours, proud to get my last Masters, proud to get a great acting review in a Honolulu newspaper, proud to have worked on and finished some good videos.

Who do you most want to meet and why?

It would be nice to have dinner with Meryl Streep or Dustin Hoffman or Kevin Spacey. Be nice to hang out for a couple of days with the Dalai Lama.
Thirroul to Wollongong

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned? 

Miracles occur though hard work and giving up.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I’m Your Man – A Biography of Leonard Cohen.” I liked “Kids Like Us'” an autobiography of Patti Smith, during her time with Robert Maplethorpe.

Where do we find you and your products? 


Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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