In the words of Henry Miller, “Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree.” It should come as no surprise that filmmaker Max Lugavere considers Miller’s saying as one of his favorites. Through different mediums, the New York native is dedicating his time to making the world a better and more engaging place. After being selected from a pool of thousands of candidates, he landed a job as one of the founding producers of Al Gore’s award-winning network, Current TV, which promotes user-generated content. Along with being a writer for the Huffington Post and one of the faces for the Gap “Icons” campaign, the 28-year-old has recently combined his love of songwriting and philanthropy to create a concert series called Rockdrive. How’s that for a Renaissance man?
After doing some research, I see that you’ve been referred to as: “filmmaker,” “journalist,” “producer,” “songwriter,” “philanthropist,” “TV host,” and “party-philosopher.” Who the hell really is Max Lugavere?
To me, everything that I do is related. I think it’s important for one not only to be intellectually curious, but to have a sense of intellectual entitlement as well. If you have that combination of traits, particularly in an age when technology empowers us to pursue what we love 24/7, you inevitably will wear many hats just by virtue of being true to yourself. The only place where I deviate, content-wise, is with my songwriting. Whereas my TV work, filmmaking, and even how I use social media tend to be about ideas, my songwriting tends to cover a much more personal space. I need both, though. The art fuels the altruist, and vice-versa. The real Max is the ping-pong champion who just keeps the volley going.
The last few years have been extremely fruitful for you professionally. Please tell us how you initially came into contact with the “ex-future President of the United States.”
I was a student at University of Miami when Jason (Silva) and I caught wind of Al Gore launching a new TV network to empower passionate storytellers. We sent the nascent network a film that we were working on as an independent study called Textures of Selfhood—it was actually a graduation requirement for me but we decided to work together—and out of 5,000 applications, they hired us, moved us to LA, and put us on-air together. Working for Al has been fun!
The Emmy-winning TV network, Current TV, has obviously had a remarkable success since its launch. However, in a time of Real Housewives or Jersey Shore, is there still a real place left for intelligent programming?
I think so. The question of whether or not a mass audience will galvanize around high-brow programming is somewhat moot in an age when it’s way more practical to target, build and monetize a niche following than it is to try and make everyone happy. I’m pretty optimistic that those contributing real signals to the boundless noise will rise to the top. That said, there are a lot of mainstream shows that I really dig. There’s room for everybody.
You really are at the forefront of a new movement of young people actively participating in today’s global challenges through new media platforms…
There are always a few standout individuals that push things forward just as there have been in previous generations. Summit Series, for example, is a collective of progressively-minded young change-makers and I like the work that they’re doing.
Aside from Current TV, you’ve formed your own nonprofit concert series that is going national next year. What is the basic idea (or elevator pitch) for Rockdrive?
Rockdrive is a non-profit concert series and organization going on its third year that continues to grow exponentially. It’s really a merger between my love of music and doing good for the less fortunate. We’ve had a lot of insanely great artists come and lend their talents – Bruno Mars, Kina Grannis, Aqualung, to name a few – and we continue to totally oversell the venues that we book. It has all of the markings of a groundswell, so we’re excited to see what happens with it in 2011.
I’m interested to hear what’s in store for you — and please don’t tell me that you’re becoming an architect or an astronaut.
I’m continuing to work in the TV realm with Jason, my co-host and production partner, developing a slew of cool new projects. We also continue to work with Current TV occasionally. Not shooting a nightly show like Still Up has given us a lot of time to develop longer-lead goals, which has been awesome and challenging in the best possible way. I’m also psyched to record another EP in 2011, with a somewhat more acoustic, stripped-down sound than “One Year Later.”
Aside from all your hard work, I know that you like a good party. What is your drink of choice and your best pick-up line? Some people on our staff could use the advice.
I love a good red wine – huge fan of Resveratrol and would like to live forever, thank you very much – but also lately am really into the Moscow Mule. It’s a drink that was popular in the 50s and is made with vodka and ginger beer. They’re pretty awesome. Another drink I like, also strangely old school, is the Manhattan. As far as pick-up lines, “Hi” always works.
Finally, how can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
Continue to demand meaningful content.