When I was about a year old, my father (Steven Mark Zaitz) worked as an assistant editor and location scout for the landmark independent flick "Return of the Secaucus Seven" written and directed by John Sayles. I had a walk on role as a baby, also named Benjamin. It was a bit of a stretch I admit but I think I nailed it. I do wonder how many takes it took to get it right for the director. I hope not too many!
Benjamin nailing a scene in his major motion picture debut in North Conway, NH in the summer of 1978.
In addition to his behind the camera duties, my dad can also be seen (and heard) enthusiastically singing a song near the end as well. He still had the shirt he was wearing in the movie when he passed in 2011 at the age of 62. The movie was made by a group of friends for $60,000, shot in North Conway, NH in real places on 16mm film, and now resides permanently in the archives of the Library of Congress's National Film Registry in Washington, DC. Woah.
Here's my big scene from the movie and it also includes my dad singing and nailing a very high note!
It's fair to say from the beginning I inherited my dad's enthusiasm and passion for visual story telling. One day I think I was 9 or 10 and my dad let me stay home from school, as I wasn't "feeling well." He stayed home with me and made me soup and then while he worked I found a book of Roger Ebert reviews, and began to devour it. I also began reading Variety and the box office charts around this time. I had seen E.T. in theaters 5 times in 1982 but who the heck was this Taxi Driver and who was he talking to? I learned of names like Kubrick, Coppola, Spielberg, DePalma, Scorsese, Lynch, Stone, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, Zemeckis, Fincher, Wes & Paul Thomas Anderson, Alexander Payne, Raimi, Jackson, Aster, Bong Joon Ho... the list goes on. These directors have inspired me and taught me a lot. But it was my dad that gave me the bug way back when. Thank you, Pop.
Me in my dad's lap, 1977.
My dad in his shirt hitting that high note!
The Cast and crew of Return of the Secaucus Seven in North Conway, NH which includes:
Oscar nominated writer, director, & editor John Sayles
Oscar nominated actor with 137 credits including Nomadland and Good Night And Good Luck and my brother's godfather - David Strathairn
Me on the director's lap
veteran character actor from over 139 credits including Ozark - Adam LeFevre
Emmy award winning children TV producer and my godfather - Jeffrey Nelson
Emmy winning actor for NYPD Blue with over 100 credits - Gordon Clapp
We moved from New Hampshire to Brewster, NY where my dad worked as a photographer in New York City. We had a chance to head north to be near family my mom was close to, in Blue Hill, ME. We moved to Maine in 1983 and rented for a year in Surrey before finding an affordable 1100 sq. ft. log cabin on an acre in Dedham. This put us less than a mile from Phillips Lake in Lucerne, where we would spend each summer at the "Beach Club." I feel very lucky I am still able to bring my family back to this lake and its club.
The Lucerne Beach Club at Phillips Lake in Dedham, ME in 2014.
In Dedham, we were 5 miles from a loaf of bread or gallon of milk, and about 20 minutes to either Ellsworth or Bangor. The log cabin did indeed have running water and electricity but no cable TV and of course this was in the days before the internet. In later years, we did have a very weak dial up modem to go with our Apple IIGS, though.. The house was centrally built around a very large chimney with a hearth area that housed a very functional and completely necessary woodstove. It was our primary source of heat and served us well for many cold, Maine winters.
Me, my mom Jane, and my younger brother Adam, circa 1982.
Parker House in Blue Hill, ME. Family house on my mom's side where we get to stay each summer. It's now a popular airbnb in the area seasonally.
Cousin John with the girls in 2018. John grew up in the Blue Hill home, and now splits time between there and Boston. He runs it as a rental property today over the summer months. Amazing place we are lucky to have in our lives.
That family we closed to, in Blue Hill, was about 45 minutes away. It was the Bates family, my mom's aunt and her family, and to this day we still stay at that house when we visit each summer. My formative years included Dedham Elementary followed by John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor. After seeing them randomly at a University of Maine college fair, I researched (before the internet), visited, applied to and was accepted early decision at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. After two years in Political Science with an eye toward law, I realized that was not my passion.
Our childhood log cabin in 2013, Dedham, ME.
My dad and I in the early 90s, Dedham, ME log cabin.
I transferred to Temple University Film School in 1997 which was my first experience with the city of Philadelphia. I graduated with a B.A. in Film and Media Arts. In October 2001, I moved with my brother to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. For nearly two years I worked my way up first as an intern then as a development assistant with an independent production company. My primary duties were reading and recommending screenplays looking to get made, shooting documentary and website footage, editing that footage, and making coffee. It was around this time I started shooting lots of footage in my Los Angeles neighborhood - of people and protests and of near deserted towns.
March 2003 Iraq war protest and counter protest outside Los Angeles National Cemetery in West Los Angeles, CA.
My wife and I call this kid, "Balloon Boy" as he was a part of a 2002 video I shot in W. Los Angeles, CA. I wonder what he's up to today.
Superior, AZ where movies such as Oliver Stone's U-Turn, The Prophecy, and Eight Legged Freaks were filmed. An amazingly beautiful yet undeniably sad location.
Los Angeles was enormously cinematic with amazing scenery and always fascinating people watching conditions and I adored the lack of humidity in the air - but ultimately it was not for me. I headed back east in late 2003 and met my soon to be wife three weeks later.
Nodding Head Brewery (now closed) in Center City, Philadelphia - the spot where we first met in January 2004.
After an eventful stint at a well known and well respected local eatery in late 2004 I found a job with a company producing events as their meeting planner. After that, I spent the next decade as a meeting planner in the for profit and not for profit sector planning all aspects of a wide variety of events. In those roles, I was partially and at times fully responsible for their marketing and promotion. Marketing became a passion and my profession. Instead of producing movies, I was producing events. And those events needed to find their audience.
Exhibit Hall setup in Boston, 2013.
Me executing an event in 2014 - but first breakfast!
Atlanta Hilton NASPGHAN Annual Meeting 2014.
Pediatric gastroenterologists get hands on experience with pig organs specially shipped and stored. Such logistics!
In recent years, I have been a marketer in the real estate space. At my nine-to-five gig, 75% of my clients are in real estate. I've worked closely in the last two years with my brother Adam Zaitz on well over a dozen projects. I've also completed videos for an award winning local creamery, multiple projects for a nationally recognized organizational effectiveness consultancy, a dentist, and a State Representative of PA.
Washington Hilton NASPGHAN Annual Meeting 2015.
Me and Daphne on Hilton Head Island, SC in 2014.
Cadillac Mountain, Arcadia National Park, ME in 2013.
Today I am proud to call myself a passionate advocate of video marketing. I still remember noticing back in the day that marketing with video performed better in every way that mattered to a business or brand. That is still very true today. Heading into 2022 it is not too late to incorporate video into your marketing plan.
Me on my 16th wedding anniversary, 10/1/2021.
Winnie & I working from home in 2021.
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