Humans of Harker: Looking through a new lens

Matthew Jiang (12) shares his love for filmmaking and goal of seeing different perspectives in the world


Sabrina Zhu

“When people see my work, I want them to live my experiences and learn a thing or two, whether it’s how to become a better person or just seeing things from a different perspective,” Matthew Jiang (12) said.

Staring intently through a Sony A7R3 camera, hands steadily gripping a GorillaPod, Matthew Jiang (12) gazes at the scene set out in front of him. He smoothly adjusts the angle to better capture his subject, who sits in a classroom and discusses the hardships and difficulties immigrants face when learning a new language. Matthew zooms in and focuses on his friend’s gentle smile, before flipping a switch and shutting off the camera. This short clip is part of a current work in progress, and eventually, a future film.

Since his early years in high school, Matthew has been deeply involved in filmmaking and photography.

“I took a photography class in my first semester of sophomore year. I really enjoyed it, and I thought it was really cool. Getting to express myself visually through pictures was something I wanted to pursue further, so I decided to try filmmaking in the second semester,” Matthew said.

Recently, Matthew attended the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), a pre-professional summer camp where he further studied photography and other art areas. Now, Matthew frequently produces videos, much of which cover specific topics and ideas.

“I tend to focus on social issues and personal experiences,” Matthew said. “Sometimes, it’s more for myself, and I try to understand the different identities people have.”

Many of his schoolmates and friends have also supported him and his multiple works. They encourage him to grow and look up to his unique creativity.

“I admire Matthew’s sensitivity to creating delicately balanced films and his technical ability,” close friend Kismet Singh (12) said.

Even Matthew’s teachers have recognized his talents.

“Matthew is an amazing filmmaker and a solid creator,” upper school visual arts teacher Joshua Martinez, who has worked with Matthew for three years, said.

Not all of his videos are shown to the public; rather, some are just used for his personal benefit.

“I don’t tend to publish my work, so when I show them it’s usually in a classwork setting,” Matthew said. “And sometimes, my work is for myself. I create them to gain a better perspective of things going on in the world, or just to improve my technique in general.”

But if Matthew does display and allow others to watch his videos, his goal is for them to obtain a more understanding view of the world.

“When people see my work, I want them to live my experiences and learn a thing or two, whether it’s how to become a better person or just seeing things from a different perspective,” he said.

Furthermore, Matthew himself tries to see all sides of a situation, in both film and in real life. 

“He provides new insight about things, and with photography and film, he always finds different shots that nobody else can see,” Mihir Dixit (12), Matthew’s friend since the third grade, said. “He acts like any normal person, but he can take these crazy photos, and the end product is always amazing.”

Besides photography and filmmaking, Matthew recently decided to try playing football for the Harker team. While joining the team in senior year, he found he genuinely enjoyed it.

“I decided to [try football] because it was an interest of mine for a while; I watched a lot of football as a kid. I felt like if I wanted to live that experience, high school would be the best way to do that,” Matthew said. “Team bonding was especially great. I got to meet new people and form new relationships with guys I didn’t talk to before.”

In general, Matthew is an easy person to talk to and be around, and he’s a friendly face on campus. Mihir appreciates his fun-loving personality and fondly remembers the extra excitement Matthew brought to a movie night at AMC Saratoga. 

“We noticed that the parking lot was empty, and the next thing I know, I just see Matthew rushing by pushing someone in a shopping cart,” Mihir said. “He just likes to make people laugh. I can see that people love him, and they laugh a lot whenever he’s around.”

Although Matthew has not decided what he wants to pursue in the future, he knows he will continue to develop his love for filmmaking and photography.

“I want to go further into filmmaking, but I know that that field is really competitive. I’ll need to work on my technique, grow in terms of having better work ethics, and learn to adapt to the environment,” Matthew said.

Throughout high school, Matthew gained many special memories and experiences, and his passions and unique personality traits have allowed him to grow into a more sympathetic and compassionate person.

“Interacting with others with different backgrounds and different cultures has definitely helped me mature myself, become a better person, and connect with people through the context of their situations, and I think that’s something really powerful.”