Matthew Getz ’00
Matthew was not 100% committed to attending SJA while at the St. Johnsbury Middle School. During his 8th grade year, he looked at SJA, Lyndon Institute, and Burke Mountain Academy and decided on SJA once learning that BMA did not allow snowboarders, something he is still “jokingly upset about.” During his years at SJA, Matt was an active outdoorsman, participating in fishing, skateboarding, rollerblading, and of course, snowboarding. He also competed on the golf team for SJA.
Matt said, “I feel so fortunate to have attended a high school that felt like a college campus. No matter where you live in the world, it is extremely rare to have a high school with such a beautiful campus and an extremely diverse group of students. Growing up in an environment like that gave me a greater appreciation for other cultures and it made me more curious about traveling to other parts of the world.” Matt mentioned Craig Weston, a former math teacher, as one of his favorite instructors at SJA. He said, “Mr. Weston was a great teacher, extremely compassionate, and hilarious!”
After graduating in 2000, Matt attended the University of Vermont and studied outdoor recreational management. He said, “I had always loved the outdoors, nature, and extreme sports so I knew this was the major for me. It had a public component focusing on State and National Parks and a private component focusing on the business side such as ski area and brand management. I initially thought I wanted to start an outdoor gear company like Patagonia.” After graduating, Matt worked for Burton Snowboards in Burlington, was a fly-fishing guide in Colorado, and then moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
While in Wyoming, Matt worked in the service industry and spent every waking moment snowboarding or fishing. He fly-fished all over the Rockies, Alaska, New Zealand, and Mexico. After a few years of adventure fly-fishing with his brother (Tom) and a good friend (Greg), they began to document their fishing. He said, “We wanted to see fly-fishing videos that had the same feel as a ski or snowboard video, but the only fly-fishing content they could find was instructional or just flat out lame—like embarrassingly cheesy and boring. This was a few years before the iPhone was invented so creating any content was fairly difficult. We bought a camera, computer, and editing software and began our journey which would turn out to be the beginning of a career I never knew I wanted.”
After two years of filming and editing, the trio decided to pause and go back to life before filming. Tom continued working as a lawyer, Greg re-joined the service industry, and Matt moved to New Hampshire to live in his father’s house and save money. While Tom and Greg seemed to ease back into life before filming, Matt said, “For me, something was different. I couldn’t really explain why I wanted to work in the industry but I just had a feeling. It was such a faint feeling, that I might have let it slip away if I lacked confidence or was too scared to break out of my comfort zone.” Matt felt a deep desire to go to film school; however, due to financial concerns, he did not pursue it. But Matt did not let this dream die. He began working in the film world as an extra on a few shows aired on HBO and the History Channel. This involvement ultimately led to a few promotions, and within a year, Matt found himself on the deck of a crab boat filming for “The Deadliest Catch.”
What is Matt’s key to success? He said, “I have never said a task or a duty was beneath me. In 2012, A few months after winning an Emmy for Cinematography, I got a job as a production assistant on an Indy film, delivering coffee, parking cars, etc. I wasn’t mad, and I didn’t complain. I had a smile on my face, worked hard, and made sure to learn as much as possible from everyone I worked with. Don’t be the lazy one on set, don’t be the entitled one on set… that person is not really fun to be around. And if you find yourself feeling miserable about work, then maybe you’re not doing the right thing, and you should find something that makes you happy.”
Matt had advice for current SJA students: “Cliche alert, but be yourself! Don’t be afraid to do something you love just because others think it’s nerdy, boring, lame, or just different than what they are into. Now, that is way easier said than done, and even at 40, I have to tell myself that everyday. Example: Most people think fly fishing is boring, but I find it extremely peaceful, and it connects me to nature like nothing else. So, the only thing that matters here is how I feel about it.”