Senior collaborates on, produces viral videos


Matthew Samson

Matthew Samson edits at his home studio. His videos have collectively surpassed one million views on YouTube.

This article was initially published in the March 9, 2021 print issue of the Review.

It was easy for Matthew Samson to get discouraged when he direct messaged hundreds of artists without a response, but with some perseverance and luck, his videos have collectively surpassed a million views.

Samson, a senior, started his film career by shooting drone videos and recording memorable moments of family vacations. By the time he began high school, he was trying to catch the interest of YouTubers and gamers on Twitch, so he transitioned to professional music videos. 

When he first started contacting artists and musicians, he received only one or two responses a month and often worked for free.

“Artists don’t have to hire videographers,” Samson said. “The only way we [can] work with a fairly big artist is for free.”

Matthew Samson

Most projects Samson works on now are from artists and streamers including Knox Hill and Shofu, but the most impactful project he worked on was VI Seconds’ song “Etika,” a tribute to a fellow YouTuber who passed away in 2019. 

“The passion that he had behind the song, and all the effort that I put in, meshed really well,” Samson said. 

He has edited videos for St. John’s College Counseling and Admissions as well as a video for the Athletics Banquet. Samson gained recognition across campus for his work on a football hype video, which was shown during the 2018 Upper School Pep Rally after the annual Kinkaid Video.

“It got everybody so hyped for the game,” senior Pierce Glanville said. “It did a lot to make that assembly more exciting.”

Samson has branched out to making corporate advertisements, including for the clothing brand Seek Discomfort. As its name implies, the brand inspires customers to step outside their comfort zone – a philosophy that resonates deeply with Samson, who treats each video as a chance to incorporate new techniques.

Matthew Samson

The pandemic provided Samson an opportunity to learn Blender, a 3D visual effects software, which he has incorporated into many of his most recent video projects.

“Learning is the best thing to do,” Samson said. “There’s no ceiling to what you can make, how good of an edit you can have, how good a story you can write. It is all about what you’re willing to do and how much effort you’re willing to put in. Every time I do a project, I try to add something new.”

While the majority of Samson’s professional work is focused on music videos, lyrical videos and advertisements, he has also directed and edited three short films.

“Every time I see a new edit, I’m impressed,” Glanville said. “Not only do [his effects] fit narratively, but in a lot of cases, they look 110 percent realistic.”

Learning is the best thing to do.

— Matthew Samson

Samson has used his short films for film school and college applications since he aims to become a professional director for a music video production company called Lyrical Lemonade.

“I love the story element of short films,” Samson said. “There’s only so much self-expression you can do in somebody else’s song about their own issues.”    

Film production is not without its challenges. For each project, Samson creates a shot list, which is essentially a script for the camera, but “half the time the list goes into the trash can” as he freestyles in the moment. 

Once the shooting is complete, post-production poses a different challenge, especially when he spends hours working at his computer only to have a program crash or an effect not save.

But for Samson, the “grind” is worth it, which is why he keeps making videos. 

“When I had my videos hit a million views, it was insane,” Samson said. “But the next day, I woke up and made more videos.”