Max From ‘Catfish’ Wants You To Join In A Chain Of Good [Interview]

Photo: (Alex Gorosh)

Photos: (Alex Gorosh)

Max Joseph from “Catfish” knows a thing or two about capturing real life on film, so when Innocent Smoothies asked him to help out with their new series called “Chain Of Good,” Max jumped at the opportunity. We spoke to Max about his involvement in the project, and why he thinks everyone can try a little harder to participate in a chain of good.

+ Watch “Chain Of Good” In Uganda.

ACT: How did you get involved with Innocent Smoothies?

MAX: I always wanted to be a filmmaker, and I’ve been making stuff since high school and that’s my job before and during “Catfish.” I’ve been making stuff for 9 or 10 years, and I’d been making commercials for the last couple years, and about a year ago Innocent Smoothies flew me out to London so I could see what they were doing, and we started brainstorming ideas for a bunch of spots. It was very exciting. They want to leave the world a better place than they found it, and it’s very clear what their voice is.

They give 10% of their profits away to charities every year, and they have a map in their conference room where can you see the NGOs around the world they support. When I saw that, I thought “that should be the centerpiece of these spots.”

MaxKids2-InsertPhoto: (Alex Gorosh)

ACT: Where did you film the series?

MAX: I love to travel, and there are all these great spots around the world and places I haven’t been. I like working with people I would never get to meet otherwise. There were a lot of options, and looking at all the different non profits, we picked two — one of them was called Send A Cow, in Uganda. How it works is families in Uganda get a cow, and then they’re trained in how to use it in a million different ways, such as milk for the kids, and fertilizer as a source of gasoline and fertilizer for the soil. Its an amazing program that teaches families how to use the cow to greatly improve their livelihood.

I wanted the other place to be geographically in an opposite part of the world. I wanted there to be snow, if possible, and we ended up working with an NGO in Peru called Practical Action. They work with these very isolated families that are hard to get to. They provide them with solar panels which help with electricity, so they can keep the lights on at night and eat dinner with their families. The electric spinners also help them spin wool, which helps them earn more money, which helps everything.

MaxAnimals-InsertPhoto: (Alex Gorosh)

The Andes was really special — it was a 3 hour commute each and every direction. Lots of alpacas in every direction. We did 6 days in Peru and 6 days in Uganda, with only one day in London in between to drop off footage. It was quite a whirlwind, but really awesome.

+ Watch “Chain Of Good In Peru.”

ACT: How was working on “Chain Of Good” different or similar than working on “Catfish?”

MAX: I use a lot of the same techniques on “Catfish,” and its hard to separate the two — I spend so much time shooting strangers, and I shoot so much with the little camera and the bigger camera. We would show up the way we do on “Catfish,” and we would get to know someone, and we would quickly see what are the most visually interesting parts of their daily life, and how can I tell that story in a quick way. It was nice using a tripod for once!

MaxGroup-InsertPhoto: (Alex Gorosh)

The spirit of discovery, meeting new people, and making a connection with them, and getting them to trust you — all of that was very similar to “Catfish.” With the “Chain Of Good” spots it was important to show up and really meet everyone. We got real people involved in making this. We had people show us what they actually do, and we set up a camera. There was a strong sense of discovery every step of the way.

ACT: What can people do every day to participate in a “Chain Of Good?”

MAX: There are a lot of things you can do to do good. You can quit your job, or take a vacation somewhere in the world, and you can join a project or NGO, you can build houses or bathrooms or join the peace corps. But a lot of poeple dont have the time or money or luxury to do something like that — so often the best way we can do good is put our dollars towards the right products. There are products and companies out there that are dedicated to doing good with the money you give them. Innocent is one of those companies. If you do a little research (just like in “Catfish”), you should be able to find out if companies are real, or not for real.

MaxKids-InsertPhoto: (Alex Gorosh)

ACT: What’s in store for Max in 2014?

MAX: We’ve got another exciting season of “Catfish” we’re working on, and  after that, I don’t want to jinx it— but I will be directing a feature a film. No slowing down.

MaxStatue-InsertPhoto: (Alex Gorosh)

ACT: Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers or do-gooders?

MAX: I get a lot of emails from fans, and I try to respond to people who are interested in film or filmmaking, and I really do respond to people who are interested in film and want to know about storytelling. I want to be a resource to young filmmakers who are looking for guidance and advice.One of the best things about film making is you’re constantly meeting interesting people. I couldn’t think of a better way to live your life.

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Send A Cow

Send A Cow

Send A Cow provides livestock and training in natural organic farming practices alongside courses in gender equality and more.

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Practical Action

Practical Action

Practical Action has been working in Peru with poor communities, helping them to use the resources they have to improve their lives.