You may not know Matthew Klein, but if you’ve ever watch aerial videos of the Illinois Valley, it’s likely you’re familiar with his work.
For the last few years, Klein, a senior at La Salle-Peru High School, has immersed himself in drone photography and video — shooting several nature videos and videos of local cities, as well as videos for businesses, nonprofits and events. He posts them to his Facebook page, fb.com/matthewkleinfilms.
“I just thought it was cool to see the world from a different perspective,” Klein said of his decision to purchase a drone two years ago. “I can stand right here and I can see everything around me.”
In February 2017, he submitted a video for a contest with the Chicago Cubs to win the opportunity to serve as ring bearer at the ring ceremony for the 2016 World Series Champions. More than 1,500 people were nominated by submitting one-minute videos and his sister’s, Lauren Klein, was one of the winning entries.
“That was probably before I started really getting into video, so if I went back now and watched it I’d probably be embarrassed of it,” Klein said with a laugh. “It was nice, though, and it definitely gave me confidence."
Currently, he and his friend, Kyle, whom he often works with on videos, are working on short videos for a new premium spa in Peru. This summer, he and some friends are shooting video for Oglesby Fun Fest and hope to shoot more videos of cities.
“We really like doing the city series. That’s just fun. That’s just us going out there on a night and saying, ‘Hey, let’s film some stuff, put a video together and post it online.’ Because that’s really what I think people love the most,” he said.
Shooting city videos is also what he loves shooting most, because it allows him to be creative and try new ideas. His video of Peru has more than 40,000 views.
He noted he shot a video of Starved Rock State Park this winter that was a favorite on Facebook.
“It’s nice, because you have Starved Rock right here. You really have so much nature to film.”
In addition to school and his videos, Klein also finds time to be president of the Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America and L-P’s Renaissance Club. He’s also a member of choir and the computer club. It keeps him busy, but he feels he’s making a difference.
“I enjoy doing it. I don’t feel it’s a chore. Some kids might say, ‘Oh, I have to go to this. I get to go to this."
When he was a sophomore, he suggested the idea of having local business people speak to students about their jobs. It’s a series that continues today and garners about 50 students in attendance after school.
The Renaissance Club affects all students, promoting grades, attendance and behavior. The members offer incentive-based programs to promote those academic achievements. He motioned to his left where he and other seniors put their hand prints and signatures on a cafeteria wall to commit to graduating. Each year, they host a Renaissance Rally, the group’s biggest event of the year
Renaissance co-coordinator Andrea Henry said Klein was an active participant in two national storyteller awards the club won, with the most recent award-winning video shot and edited by Klein.
“He is one of a kind.There will never be another Matthew Klein. He is someone who can take on many different roles and do them all,” she said, also noting his creativity and perseverance.
Perseverance is a trait his mother, Jill Klein, also noted.
“He’s very determined and very independent,” she said. “If he wants to do something, he’s going to find a way to do it.”
Klein said he plans to attend a four-year university to major in business, technology or communications. He said his time at L-P has taught him he wants to attend a college that gives back to the community and a profession where he works with people.
Jill said she and her husband, Herb, advise their son to do what he loves, because he’ll be doing it every day.
“I hope he finds what he loves and is successful with it."