Local videographer helps people save memories for future generations
At age 88, Capitola resident Doree Steinmann is making memories, but not just her own.
She’s helping others preserve their life stories with her new project, Video Memories; interviews preserved for families on DVDs, to keep as a remembrance. “My career has included interviewing various people about their lives,” says Steinmann, “and now that I’m older, I prefer to interview older people, since I can identify with them.”
The idea for Video Memories came to Steinmann after producing and hosting episode 525 of “Your Second Fifty Years,” shown on Thursday and Saturday at 6 p.m. on Community Television of Santa Cruz. She has profiled a gardener, librarian, truck driver, teacher, dancer and photographer. (Steinmann—full disclosure—has also interviewed me, a writer and her neighbor in Capitola.)
For the Video Memories project, she conducts a pair of two-hour on-camera sessions about a week apart, editing between visits to make a DVD. While looking at photos of past and present activities, she gently guides the conversation with questions that help her client remember interesting details. Family heirlooms, pets, travel memorabilia, special collections and other items of interest are included. Hobbies need documenting, too, so Steinmann will record people making a favorite dish in the kitchen or playing a musical instrument.
Steinmann introduced her new service by offering it as an auction donation for the Santa Cruz Symphony League, for which she once served as president. Jeanne Jensen Shada, owner of Scotts Valley Property Management, was one of the people who bid on the item and won. She praises Steinmann for her expertise during the filming process.
“Doree came to my home and my office. She had great questions and guided me through her process as the professional she is,” Shada says. “I was going to Norway to visit my mother’s and father’s relatives and thought it would be nice for them to see how their Norwegian-American relatives live—home, family, and business.”
Steinmann films the half-hour show in the person’s home, in a room that best suits their personality. She’s a one-woman show, asking questions while doing her own filming. She was asked to produce the video for local Republican Women’s Club president Honora Robertson, who also requested the service for her 91-year-old mother.
Meanwhile, Steinmann is also selling Your Second Fifty Years, a book featuring many interviews from her local public access show of the same name, which she first thought of more than 30 years ago.
Steinmann got the idea for the name 38 years ago when she turned 50. She said to herself, “I don’t look 50, and I don’t feel 50! I play tennis, swim, ride my bike and feel better today than I did 10 years ago, both physically and mentally. I expect to live to 100, so right now I’m entering my second fifty years! Science and medicine have given us the quantity of life, but it’s up to us to give ourselves the quality of life.”
Steinmann’s resume is deeply embedded in the arts and media scenes. In 1959, her first TV appearance was as the Storybook Lady on KVIE (PBS) in Sacramento. She later hosted “Women’s World,” which led to her becoming the first woman anchor on KXTV (CBS) in the Sacramento/Stockton market. She tells the story about how she was advised to add red highlights to her dark hair to look better on camera. She’s kept up the practice, now sporting a strawberry blond tone, a perfect fit for her energetic personality.
After 22 years of teaching Communications Media at Cosumnes River College, Steinmann retired and moved to Capitola. She taught an eight-week after-school class called “News about Your School” through the SPECTRA Artist Teacher Partnership, and “Acting for the Camera” for Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation. She loves to produce and edit videos of local events for and about seniors, making DVD copies for the people involved.
For six years, Steinmann chaired the sand sculpture contest for the Capitola Begonia Festival and is now the official videographer for the entire festival. She’s a docent at Seacliff State Beach Visitor Center, teaching second and fourth graders about tide pools and fossils. She volunteers for the Santa Cruz Symphony League, once serving as president, and attends all of the concerts.
Steinmann served as the Lifelong Learners’ president for three years, and is still active. During that time she met her late partner of 14 years, Bob Begun, past mayor of Capitola. Due to their mutual love of travel, each chose the destination of their annual trip every other year. He often elected to visit Paris, and she’d go anyplace where she could snorkel.
Neighbors watch in awe as Steinmann—who has four daughters, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren—goes to and from daily activities, stylishly dressed in her trademark caftans of both bold and subtle colors. She doesn’t want to slow down, and has just one goal: “To live gracefully and busy until I’m at least 100.”
“As long as I have my wonderful condo, hot tub and the best view of Monterey Bay before me,” she says, “I’m the happiest person in the world.”
Steinmann’s introductory cost for Video Memories is $200 for four copies of the DVD to share with family members, extras at $10. For more information, visit [email protected]
LENS GET IT STARTED Doree Steinmann takes video of pianist Carol Panofsky for her Video Memories program. She began profiling community members over 30 years ago with her public access show ‘Your Second Fifty Years.’ PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER