Thursday, March 27, 2008

Max Lugavere and Jason Silva


Max Lugavere and Jason Silva

Max Lugavere and Jason Silva went from being a couple of film school graduates from the University of Miami to being on-air hosts and producers on Al Gore's latest media project – Current TV.

ASW talks to this progressive network's presenters about their artistic aspirations, becoming public figures and the future of user-generated content in media.

Q. How and when did you two become members of ASW?

Jason Silva: We both got invited by our good friend Mike Staininger.

Max Lugavere: We joined about a year and a half ago.

Q. How do you use ASW and what’s your favorite site feature?

JS: I use ASW to connect with long-time friends scattered across the globe and for the infinitely great forums. I am constantly surprised by the quality of trusted information and help found there – the way people extend themselves.

ML: At first, everybody embraced all of the big social networking sites because of the random, anonymous interaction that they allowed, but I think people are starting to crave genuine connection again. What you gain in the big bloated popular networking sites you lose in trust, accountability and meeting genuine friends that share similar ideals. I think ASW is the much-needed phoenix to rise from those ashes.

Q. Tell us how you wound up on Current TV?

ML: We co-created a short documentary, about 12 minutes long, during our graduating semester at the University of Miami. The film was about hedonism and spirituality – how we were able to reconcile lifestyles of indulgence with the fact that we’re both ultimately seekers at the end of the day. It was called Textures of Selfhood.

JS: The name of the film was taken from The Hedonistic Imperative, an online futuristic philosophical manifesto about ending all forms of suffering. We completed our short and sent it to the (then unnamed) television network that Al Gore was co-launching – they were looking for “passionate storytellers to help transform television.” We figured it was a long shot, but felt that our film definitely had an irreverent visceral quality to it and that perhaps it would shine through. A few weeks later we got a call from Current’s wonderful President of Programming, David Neuman, who subsequently flew us out and offered us full time positions as on-air hosts as well as producers.

Q. What is different about Current TV from other networks/shows?

JS: Current is a short-form network. We don’t ascribe to antiquated paradigms of half-hour or hour-long shows. Current is tailored to a media-grazing generation, consuming content from multiple sources such as BlackBerries, the Internet and so on. For this reason, Current is like a tapas bar, full of varied 3-7 minute informational segments of information that we call ‘pods,’ playing at random, 24/7.

ML: Current’s hallmark is what we call VC2 or Viewer Created Content. It’s taking what has made ‘user-generated content’ sites like YouTube so easy to embrace for our generation and bringing it to television, full time. Current creates its content with the audience as a conversation, whereas traditional television has long been a sort of one-way diatribe from big network conglomerates. On Current, audience members submit their own ‘pods’ via the website ( where the most compelling of which – as judged by the online community – are chosen to go on air, making Current a legitimate reflection of its audience.


Max Lugavere and Jason Silva

Q. How have your lives changed since you became public figures? Are you recognized in the street?

JS: We get recognized all the time here in LA and even more so when we are in New York. NYC is literally where we actually get stopped in the street. It’s also nice to be escorted into any lounge or club with minimal fuss.

ML: It’s great meeting people for the first time who already know all about you from reading an article or watching Current and not having to convince them that you really work for Al Gore.

Q. What is it like to work for Al Gore? Do you deal directly with him?

ML: He’s a rock star – a totally charming, funny and warm guy. We always get the ‘double hug’ when we see him … “Da boys!” is the usual greeting, followed by a huge hug.

JS: He is the coolest guy – so smart and generous with his time and down to earth. He is the chairman and co-founder of Current. We see him every once in a while, as he travels a lot. The parties are great, though. The wildest part is being on a first name basis with the guy.

Q. What does the future hold for Current TV?

JS: Current is the fastest growing network in TV history, more than tripling its US coverage in barely two years. We have also launched in the UK. Against all odds we are a success story. The future holds more expansion, international reach, etc.

ML: Yeah, I would say just further growth and notoriety. Current rocks and many more will soon find out. We’re just stoked to have been there since the company had only a handful of employees.

Q. Where is your favorite travel destination?

JS: Europe in the summer. Also, I grew up in Venezuela, so Morrocoy and Los Roques were favorite beach destinations for me.

ML: I grew up between Manhattan and Westhampton, so the Hamptons in the summer has always been fun.


Max Lugavere and Jason Silva

Q. What is your greatest vice?

JS: We don’t smoke and only drink casually. Not really any vices.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

ML: The Standard in Miami is gorgeous.

JS: Have to agree, The Standard is amazing; the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills; Old San Juan Hotel and Casino in Puerto Rico; The Ocean Club Key Biscayne; and Hotel Palomar in San Francisco.

Q. What is your favorite restaurant?

JS: I love Bossa Nova in LA (great Brazilian food) and Cut Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.

ML: Dan Tana’s for Italian in West Hollywood and Katana for sushi.

Q. What is your favorite museum or gallery?

JS: I’ve always loved the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

ML: For me, it was always the Museum of Natural History in NYC with the relatively new planetarium. I went there so many times growing up – I love it.

Q. What is your favorite beach?

ML: Third Street in South Beach and Quogue, NY.

JS: Cayo Pescador in Morrocoy, Venezuela. Also, Third and Ocean in South Beach and the beaches of San Sebastian, Spain.

Q. What film has had the greatest effect on you? Why?

JS: While people have polarizing opinions of this film, Vanilla Sky had a profound effect on me when I first saw it. I found it to have nuances and insights into the human condition that spoke to me on a visceral level. Not to mention Cameron Crowe’s musical and aesthetic sensibilities covering the film with his signature touch.

ML: I can’t really pick one. I’d say there are a few films that have affected me. Just a few that come to mind are: Mulholland Drive, The Fountain, Rules of Attraction, Fight Club, The Beach and Vanilla Sky, as well.

Q. What is your favorite book?

ML: The book that affected me the most profoundly was probably Freedom From the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti. He’s the sage on whom I cut my spiritual teeth, so to speak. “Truth is a pathless land,” is his most famous and probably most concise summary of his ideas, which you can easily find online.

JS: I have to say The Immortalist by Alan Harrington. It’s out of print now, but you can find it online. It’s a profound philosophical manifesto rejecting all forms of “Death accepting belief systems,” and instead advocating for science to engineer biological immortality. It’s heavy, but speaks a lot to the current issues facing those in the biotech revolution. I also adore Alain De Botton’s On Love and The Art of Travel.

Q. What cause is closest to your heart? Why?

JS: At the moment I would have to say I support the biotechnology and nanotechnology revolutions to improve and expand human life. I am against irrational restrictions being imposed by those of faith on scientific advancement. I support people like Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey for their work in life extension and technology.

ML: I agree with Jason on that end. Religion-based morality interfering with scientific progress has irked me for as long as I can remember. Moral relativism, whereby one abandons a code of ‘right and wrong’ when assessing things like female genital mutilation, for example, is deplorable. Animal rights is a cause that I have always stood for, as well.

Q. What’s one thing you would like to change about yourself?

JS: I would love to be a little more patient when things don’t go exactly as planned. Also, I would love to get over my fear of turbulence on airplanes.

ML: I’d like to be better at rock climbing.

Q. Which artist do you admire most?


Max Lugavere and Jason Silva

JS: I love the author Alain De Botton. He is unbelievably erudite and articulate. I also like filmmakers Danny Boyle, Cameron Crowe, the Wachowski Brothers and Darren Aronofsky.

ML: I love the directors that Jason mentioned, but I also adore David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and Alejandro González Iñárritu – can’t get enough of their films. Musically, I admire rock bands like U2 and Live for staying true to their spiritual roots despite their success.

Q. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

JS: Probably making a film about hedonism and spirituality with Max and somehow ending up sipping champagne with Al Gore on a yacht.

ML: Yep, that’s pretty crazy.

Q. Who is your favorite historical figure?

ML: Oscar Wilde for his witty and memorable insights of clarity into a world that ultimately offers none.

JS: Freud, for making us think about sex a lot, and Einstein, for being a bohemian bon vivant but also a genius.

Q. What upsets you the most?

JS: Political tyranny, genocide, racism, religious fundamentalism and killing people in the name of religion.

ML: Hypocrisy in the government, religious fundamentalism, conformity, apathy, neglecting the tools of empowerment so freely available to us (i.e. Current) and white rice.

Q. What is your favorite bar?

ML: Hyde Lounge, in LA. I used to really love Mynt Ultra Lounge in Miami, when we lived there.

JS: Hyde Lounge. Period.

Q. What gadget can’t you live without?

JS: BlackBerry

ML: iPod

Q. What are you most afraid of?

ML: Not having a positive impact on the world.

JS: The passing of time. Death.

Q. Where do you love to shop?

JS: Diesel, Zara, Dior, Prada and Puma

ML: Same as Jason for clothing. The Apple Store, Guitar Center, for everything else.

Q. What’s your favorite drink?

ML: Patron and pineapple.

JS: A good rum is always nice; good scotch for a Venezuelan-style dinner; wine is good all the time; champagne to mark the moment.

Q. What are your top 3 songs?

JS: ‘Voices’ by Dario G, ‘Is This Love’ by Bob Marley and ‘Njosnavelin’ (the Nothing Song) by Sigur Ros

ML: ‘They Stood Up for Love’ by Live, ‘Avalanche’ by Matthew Good and ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ by U2.

-Laura Jakobovits

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