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Claremont High graduate adds ‘Emmy winner’ to resume

One could forgive local boy done good Matthew Arias for feeling a little full of himself these days. But although he’s riding high—the 26-year-old won an Emmy Award last week—self-congratulation and braggadocio are simply not part of his lexicon.

“It’s kind of like an out of body experience,” Mr. Arias said. “It was a really beautiful evening with good friends and co-workers. It was really cool.”

Mr. Arias, a 2009 Claremont High School graduate, won the award July 22 in the investigative reporting category at the 69th Annual Los Angeles Area Emmy Award event at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood. His editing work for Los Angeles’ KNBC Channel 4 News on “Danger and Deceit: Exposing Hollywood Tours” won him television’s top trophy.

“It was surreal, the whole experience,” Mr. Arias said. “I can’t really describe it. You feel like you’re watching it on TV but you’re there. I wasn’t expecting to win. When they called my name I just remember walking down the steps, and the next thing I know I’m on stage with an award in my hand.”

Television news is in the blood. Mr. Arias’ father, Gino Arias of Claremont, is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning and two-time Emmy-nominated television news photographer for LA’s KTTV FOX Channel 11. He does mostly field work, where he operates the camera, works with reporters on stories and edits footage for broadcast. And Mr. Arias’ mother, Patricia Arias, is a former television news anchor, whose most recent on-camera work was in Salinas, California.

The senior Mr. Arias knows most everyone his son has been working with the past two years at KNBC, and recalled a recent exchange he had with a well-known anchor. The host told him how his son was making new fans at KNBC, and asked him if he ever came to his father for tips.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute: I’m the one asking him questions!’” the senior Mr. Arias said.

The Arias family moved to Claremont from Seattle in 1997. Their three sons, Matthew, Isaiah, 24, and Lucas, 20, are all CHS graduates. Their daughter, Gabby, 16, is a sophomore. Matthew, who goes by Matteo to family and friends, now lives in Echo Park.

While at CHS, Mr. Arias took Avid film and television production classes. Even as a youngster he showed aptitude for problem solving, his mother said. “He always found a way out of problems. If something was broken, he’d find a creative way to make it work.”

After CHS, Mr. Arias enrolled in remote Feather River College in Quincy, California to study forestry and outdoor sciences with the romantic intention of becoming a forest ranger. “I just wanted to get a different perspective on things and get as far away from what was familiar as I could,” he said.

But being a 20-year-old in woodland isolation wasn’t all he hoped for. “When you live the reality of it, it’s really not as exciting as you think it is,” he said.

So, after a year in the literal wilderness he switched gears again and moved back home. He had a friend that was working at a local Spanish language TV network, and he brought Mr. Arias in to help out as an unofficial intern. He found he enjoyed video editing and the pace of television, and set about learning all he could.

Soon after another opportunity arose when Spanish language Estrella TV gave him his first staff job in the broadcast news business. He learned fast, working his way up from line editor to managing editor during his two years at the station. He edited game shows, reality TV and news. “It taught me how to edit quickly,” Mr. Arias said. “That was my college. Because I didn’t [finish] college.”

From there, another door opened when a friend from Claremont, BJ Alden, who was producing content for Fuse TV, brought him in as an assistant producer and editor. The transition from Estrella to the English-speaking station was a big move, Mr. Arias said, with a larger market and a higher profile. “That really opened up whole world of editing.”

“[Fuse] was also a great way for me to fuse my other passion of music to TV,” he added. “I was immersed at another level, working with musicians and production people. I felt right at home there.”

 

Mr. Arias soaked up more knowledge at Fuse and as a freelancer, and was making valuable connections in the small world of LA TV news. The word was spreading around town that he was a hardworking guy with a good eye.

On a rare rainy day in LA in 2015, one of his contacts from KNBC called. “He was like, ‘Hey, we’re really in a pinch and we need someone with your skillset to come in and edit.’”

After his new bosses saw what he could do, they hired him as an editor. Thus began his career with KNBC. Even though the job is freelance and he works part-time, he is obviously making his mark.

“In my mind he’s doing all the right things right now,” his father Gino said. “With his skills, with his potential, and being young, I think he could just about do anything he wants in the TV business.”

He’s certainly ambitious. Mr. Arias and his girlfriend Marissa Clifford, 24, recently opened Quiet Village, a marketing, media and design company focusing primarily on graphics, motion graphics and video concept work. “Between the two of us we have a lot of complementary skills,” Mr. Arias said. “We’re trying to cover a lot of different angles but still maintain a high level of professionalism and quality.” You can see what they’re up to at quietvillage.media.

Mr. Arias is also an accomplished musician and songwriter. He plays bass and sings backup vocals for the indie pop group Golden Animals, who are set to release their third album in the spring. You can listen to Golden Animals at goldenanimals.bandcamp. com. He’s also working on a record of his own music under the name Windowss.

The young man clearly has a lot of good stuff going on. And even though he’s seemingly doing three or four things at once, the tight-knit Arias family remains a constant presence.

After winning last Saturday he was led backstage, where he snapped a photo of the trophy and sent it via text to his mother and father, with the words “This is for the family.”

“Patricia and me, we were in tears,” his father Gino said. “It was such an accomplishment for him.”

His parents are understandably proud, but not surprised. “He is my son, but at the same time I kind of knew this kind of thing was in store for him,” Ms. Arias said. “He’s just very smart and creative when it comes to editing. We’re very proud of him.”

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com