Storyteller and Local Hero to Lahaina, Matty Schweitzer
Matty Schweitzer is a surfer turned photographer, videographer, and filmmaker. His craft captures the beauty of Hawai’i, his travels around the world with his younger brother Zane and the life journey of his family and friends. Behind his lens are moments that embody raw emotions from the stories he shares, carrying the potential to impact the lives of his audience.
When Matty was 17 years old, he experienced a motocross accident that set him back from surfing. Despite the obstacles that came from this, he was able to pivot and lean on what the kai (ocean) and ‘aina (land) has taught him. “The ocean makes me realize how small I am. The older I get, the more I realize that as I am figuring out who I am and learning more about my family history, the more I realize the bigger part of my history is the ocean. The ocean is like our church, nationality, identity,” Matty said. He showcases these sentiments in each tear-jerking video he creates, wholefully encompassing what the island really means to him.
Matty Schweitzer holding his drone equipment during the Molokai to Oahu paddle race in 2015. (Photograph by Stu Soley. Photo courtesy of Matty Schweitzer)
Since the tragic events that occurred from the Lahaina Fires on August 8, 2023, Matty has used his platform on Instagram to share before and after footage of the destruction, memories of Front Street, and current news to family and friends on island. He has reached a greater audience beyond his community by leading through service alongside fellow surfers like Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, and Zane Schweitzer. Together, they’ve collectively provided supplies for those in need through crowdsourcing donations and utilizing boats as delivery transportation. Their contributions towards relief efforts are still ongoing to this day.
As of recent, Matty and Zane have been hosting their keiki (kids) clinic once a week through Kahākūkahi Ocean Academy. As a non-profit organization, they provide kids the opportunity to experience sport and education through mentorship. Their eventful itinerary kicks off with a beach cleanup, followed by fun water and beach activities. Matty and Zane incorporate the teachings of Hawaiian values and share ways kids can be more eco-friendly to the 'aina.
They've also started West Maui Community Alliance. "It's a nonprofit aimed at supporting community lead Hubs, Events & Resilience to ensure emergency preparedness, community interactions and proactive solutions to natural disaster protocols," Matty shared.
In addition, the Schweitzer brothers have been working with Inside Outreach, a non-profit organization whose leaders have come together to build portable housing for those who have lost their homes to the Lahaina Fires. They have branched out to other groups such as Hui Homes who are also part of the initiative of community helping community. Matty's urgency to help those in need, to be involved and be of service, on top of caring for his family, is innate to his character.
This infamous photo is named 'Lahaina Paddle Out' captured by Matty Schweitzer. This was taken on September 8, 2023 during a paddle out held to honor Lahaina. (Photo by Matty Schweitzer at Island Eye Productions)
The foundation of Matty’s involvement starts with his family history. His grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, inventor of windsurfing, taught him the value of respecting people and the planet. “Growing up, I remember our grandparents being super strict. They cared about proper manners and good grades. Our grandpa was a shaper and was part of the original surfers in California. It didn’t just start with windsurfing – the ocean was [his and my grandma’s] whole life. I'm definitely inspired by their story,” he said. Matty is the oldest sibling to Zane and Shelby Schweitzer. Growing up, they became accustomed to the ocean lifestyle and integrated sports with community outreach. Their parents, being their biggest influences, Shawneen and Matt raised them to lead by example. “My mom is fearless. She’s more of the ‘pick your chin up and do it’ kind. My dad always taught us to be humble no matter how experienced we are so I think it all goes hand in hand,” he said.
Matty is the owner of Island Eye Productions. Prior to the fires, he was working on a documentary about quad amputee surfer, Josh Bogle. This is the second major project he’s been pouring his craft into after the release of Broken Molds, a movie on the Schweitzer family and the creation of windsurfing. Today, Matty continues to be part of their family business at Maui Sports Adventures and works alongside Zane’s non-profit, Kahākūkahi. He has documented the aftermath of the Lahaina Fires on his social media and consistently shares heartfelt visuals which are now available for purchase as prints.