Max Joseph: The idea of putting a movie together was always really scary, and still is.

Max Joseph
Max Joseph

Max Joseph, a name synonymous with cinematic creativity and innovation, has left an indelible mark on the world of film. He delighted his audience with the newest documentary “15 minutes of shame” directed by him in cooperation with Monica Lewinsky. He visited Slovakia, and we got the unique chance to meet him.

In the interview, he mentioned:

  • Why he chose Slovakia,
  • His biggest inspiration when filmmaking,
  • His journey to become a director,
  • His own definition of success.

What did you expect from Slovakia?

I had studied in Prague for four months when I was 20 years old. I spent a lot of time travelling the Czech Republic and was always curious about Slovakia. I also have a cousin who lives in Prague, so I am happy to go visit him after my tour in Slovakia.

I am even interested into making a movie about Czechoslovakia during World War 1, which led to Czechoslovakia becoming a democratic state. I was immediately excited to do some research on that, by simply coming here.

Max Joseph during discussion in Banská Bystrica

Max Joseph during discussion in Banská Bystrica

What was your biggest inspiration when creating a movie about online bullying and behavior on social media?

In past years I witnessed the rise of online toxicity and hatred in the form of trolling, pylons, revenge porn, harassment. It was gradually getting worse and worse, turning into a fever. Nowadays, normal people are getting sucked into the anger and the outrage daily, it’s almost like a phenomenon.

There exists this kind of anger that is meant to tear anyone apart. Sometimes deservedly so, and sometimes not. I was curious about what happened to all of the individuals shown in the movie. I wanted to know what is it like to be in the eye of storm and what truths about humanity could that discover.

“Why do we like seeing people getting taken down? What is it in us that makes us like that kind of stuff?”

We needed 90 minutes to uncover all of the hidden systems of the online world. What kind of content gets amplified and why, how do social media companies benefit from drama, but primarily, how can we let this perfect storm grow and incubate all over the world.

Max Joseph during discussion in Bratislava

Max Joseph during discussion in Bratislava

Can you describe your journey into filmmaking?

I used to be a child actor for a while. I was in the school plays and went to some auditions. What really prevailed was my uncle working for Jim Henson. He made his career look so much fun, not like the boring jobs of other adults. I wanted to discover the magic behind the filmmaking.

Instead of playing video games like my peers, I would use my dad’s camera to film little scenes and them put them to music using my computer. That is how I got into editing. I always had one and only question: Who is this mysterious person whose name is the most important name in a movie, and yet, you never see them?

“It all starts with the coolest hobby from your friend group and develops into something big.”

What are the biggest life challenges that you have to overcome?

It was the whole realization that maybe I bit off more than I could chew. The overthinking thoughts that maybe I’ve misspent all this money. Maybe I’m going to let everyone down. Maybe it’s all taking me too long, and now I have to make it all even better when I finish it. It is a never-ending spiral.

You can’t train yourself into getting used to it. With all of this worrying, I always need to keep in mind, that I have been in these struggling positions before, and I always got through them. It might take longer than you expected, but you have to keep on going. That’s the process.

How would you motivate young people striving for success?

It all depends on how you define success. Getting the success is one thing, but continuing to be successful requires a lot more than just a hustle. Hard work and drive can only take you so far before you burn out. Especially, if you are a film person, you have to make sure you are experiencing non film-related things in your life.

Max Joseph

Max Joseph

It’s tempting to only focus on what you love. Get out of your comfort zone and indulge into different topics. If you don’t know anything about living life, you’re not going to make good movies about living life. Go and put yourself out there.

“Have a real life. Do things in real life. Make mistakes and fail in real life.”

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