We had the good fortune of connecting with Karl Stelter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karl, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
As a business owner and artist, I hesitate to frame anything as ‘giving up’, because this implies some sort of failure. Instead, I work to see everything through the lens of iteration – how am I growing? How am I shifting and continuing to learn? What is my trajectory, and am I happy with it? So from that perspective, I know it’s time to iterate when I look at a certain type of job and just…groan. I feel an intense mental resistance to completing the task, even if it’s minor. Usually this just means it’s time to evolve to the next level – and you should listen to that immediately or risk intense burnout. As an example, I started my business as a wedding videographer – knowing there would come a day when, instead of being excited to create the absolute best work I could, I would dread the upcoming shoot day. And as soon as I felt that, I started shifting the pieces towards what I saw as the next step: corporate films. And then again to branded content, docs, and commercials. Now I will say there is a duality being both a business owner and an artist – because when you are bored as an artist generally means you’re making money as a business. So don’t ignore that! It means you’re doing a good job – just remember to find a balance pushing your boundaries too.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Finding purpose has always been an invisible centerpiece of my life – am I spending my time well? Will I look back and feel that my life was well lived? And while we’ll never really know why we’re here, I believe film can give us some fleeting sense of understanding that no other medium can. And this is what my most personal films address, borrowing from my own lived experiences: In 2016 my Grandfather passed away, and I wrote and directed a short film about my fear of loss. In 2019 my wife and I experienced a miscarriage, and I wove the joy and heartache of that journey into an abstract film, ultimately still searching for hope. In March 2020 my wife gave birth to our first daughter Leah, and I shot, pitched and sold a nationally broadcast commercial about the experience of motherhood during COVID. I will say it is not easy to make these films. In fact they were the hardest films I’ve ever made. But as an artist, that’s how you know your compass is pointed in the right direction.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ah! I would get a coffee from Alanas Coffee in Mar Vista – specifically their Oat Milk Latte, which is the best I’ve tasted ANYWHERE. They’re independently owned and operated, and genuinely amazing people. Then I’d get tacos from the nearby (walking distance) Mar Vista Grab n Go – best tacos in LA. Then I’d say take your pick of a low-key hike at Malibu State Park or Redondo Beach (to avoid crowds), and return to Mar Vista for dinner at the Rasselbock for some fantastic / authentic German food and beer.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without a doubt, my wife Rachel is both my inspiration and support. She trusted me to build a business our first year of marriage with little to no evidence it would be successful, and continues to help me through periods of time when I question everything. I also want to thank my Mom and Dad, who gave me the confidence and freedom to choose my own path in life, and the support that if I failed, they would be there for me.
Other: Journeymen Studios: https://www.journeymenstudios.com/