Peru native Matthew Klein turned his self-taught hobby as a filmmaker into a successful enterprise that earned a proclamation from the city of Peoria.
Klein is a student at Bradley University in Peoria and is pursuing a degree in management and leadership, according to a news release from the college. He has produced videos that have garnered millions of views online, and some of his film footage was used in the HBO Max documentary series “The Murders at Starved Rock.” Klein also has provided indoor and outdoor drone footage to Bradley University and was part of the winning team in the university’s Social Impact Challenge in both 2021 and 2022.
When Peoria Mayor Rita Ali and Peoria councilman Chuck Grayeb learned about Klein’s success and the story behind the evolution of his passion-turned-business, they wanted to recognize his accomplishments with a proclamation from the city, according to a news release from the university.
Ali called Klein naturally talented.
“You are using technology in new ways, you are innovative and you are doing things that people haven’t done before,” Ali said. “As a  Bradley alumna, I am so proud of you. As the mayor of Peoria, and the fact that you are using our talents right here in our city, makes me even more proud to honor you today.”
Grayeb, a 1972 Bradley alumnus, said he was introduced to Klein’s work when he watched the HBO documentary showcasing his video.
“Your photography is so compelling,” Grayeb told Klein. “I have seen other samples of your work, and I can see that you have a very bright future. I am heartened to hear that you decided to continue your education and will pursue your master’s degree at Bradley and be a part of our community.”
Bradley University President Stephen Standifird said Klein represents precisely what the university is all about.
“Matthew is really the benchmark of what we want to embrace at Bradley. We talk about having our students engage in a multitude of activities. We want to help our students find their passion and that is what he is doing,” Standifird said. “He is consistently evolving and turning his passion into a successful business. We at Bradley could not be more proud of Matthew and we are all excited to see what happens next.”
Klein recounted how this started as a hobby five years ago.
“When I first created my Facebook page, it was basically just my friends and I going out to the local park and capturing whatever we could, and sharing it online,” Klein said. “I had about 23 followers when we started and within a couple of days, it had garnered around 20,000 views. From there, it just continued to grow.”
Klein will graduate with a bachelor’s degree on May 14. He plans to begin a master’s degree program in the fall. He has accepted a job at CL Enterprises in Peru beginning this fall but said he will continue following his passion for filmmaking.