John Klein: Director & executive producer of Glass City Films

My NativeAdVantage:


John Klein is a happily married father, cinematographer, director, producer, camera operator, lover of dogs, Instagram addict, and all-around happy dude. He is a Notre Dame graduate ('06) and current Depaul University MFA student and adjunct professor.

As a cinematographer, he has shot projects of all shapes, sizes, and budgets.  Whether it's short films like the neo-noir Fate Accompli or feature films such as the character-driven NightLights, or whether it's traveling around the globe for the Bangladesh documentary Strong Bodies Fight, producing promotional spots for Research Down Syndrome or the Back2School program, or lensing the HBO GO web series "Single Long" in my hometown of Chicago, he's always eager to collaborate and tell unique stories in a visually dynamic style.

He is also the executive producer of Glass City Films, a Midwest-based production company through which he has overseen as producer and lensed several short films including Rendezvous, Hangers, and Under The Table. He has also produced a trio of award-winning feature films in Glass City, Happily After (his directorial debut) and Separation Anxiety, in addition to several music videos and side projects.  Glass City Films successfully raised over $35k in funds through Kickstarter for his second feature film as director, the acclaimed post-apocalyptic horror film Chrysalis. This past month, Glass City Films recently completed raising funds via Kickstarter for its newest short film Limerence, produced by John and directed by Dan Pedersen:

What do you do best?

Cinematography is my absolute passion.  I love crafting images and telling stories through lighting, lensing, and composition, and I'm also a bit of a tech nut, so I really enjoy finding new cameras and pieces of equipment that can better help me on and off set! 

What makes you the best?

I wouldn't even go anywhere close to calling myself the best.  There are too many phenomenal artists in my field that I respect and look up to so highly; I could film for another thirty years and not come close to that.  I will say that what's made me successful over the years is my focus, my resolve, and my ability to multitask, to not get freaked out when so many balls are being juggled in the air at once.  On a film set, everything eventually boils down to the art of solving problems effectively and efficiently to get the best creative product.

What are your aspirations?

I'm always looking for the next great story to tell, but I'm also eager to teach a new generation of filmmakers how to succeed at doing what they love in this ever-changing landscape of the film industry.  Of course, everyone would love to hit that highest tier and clutch an Oscar in their hands!  But my personal goals are a bit more low-key.  Keep doing good work, and teach others how to do better work.

Biggest Success?

Besides being a new dad, and marrying the best woman I know, I'd say premiering my second feature film Chrysalis was a huge high point.  It was one of the hardest shoots I've ever had, one of the most challenging movies to direct and produce, and one of the most satisfying finished products, and to see everyone's reactions to it whenever it screens at festivals or elsewhere is just awesome.  It fills me with pride, not just for the job I did but for the job everyone else did to make that film a reality.  A very close second would be the work I did on the documentary Strong Bodies Fight alongside my longtime collaborator Bill Donaruma.  That was a life-changing experience.

Most Challenging Moment?

There have been two big injuries - one to a cast member, another to a crew member - on sets I've directed or produced before, and both of those were real tests for everyone.  You never want to see anyone get hurt on a production, and so when it happens even after every single precaution and insurance measure has been taken, you feel a crushing sense of responsibility to them, to make sure they'll be okay and to also make sure the film can go on so that effort wasn't in vain.

Favorite Motto?

"Chance favors the prepared mind."

Favorite People?

My wife Kathleen, my son Donny, and my dog Boomer.  My two amazing parents, and my sister Sara, who continues to show me how to kick ass in every corner of life.  My collaborator and partner-in-crime Cole, who's still one of the most inspiring and creative people I know.  And from a more inspirational standpoint, I could sit and watch Roger Deakins' cinematography on a daily basis and never come unglued from the screen.

Favorite Places?

Few things can top Rome, though I've also been to Lake Como in Italy and that was some kind of beautiful.  Sal Gital in Bangladesh; a piece of my heart will probably always be there.  And I absolutely love my Chicago.

Favorite Products?

I probably couldn't go anywhere without my iPhone at this point; Apple products in general are all over our home.  Big fan of Merrell shoes for almost a decade now.  On the camera side, the Metabones speed booster actually gave me another year of life on a couple of obsolete cameras.  

Current Passions?

Being a good dad and a good husband.  And making movies.  Always making movies.

Visit Glass City Films (, the website for Chrysalis (, or John's cinematography website ( for more info.