TV

Max Joseph: "MTV was ahead of the game in every respect"

Max Joseph, the Catfish host and man behind We Are Your Friends, says wannabe directors should get vlogging

Anyone who has watched Catfish: The TV Show [an American TV series about online dating] will want to know if it is a little more structured than it seems or is life really crazier than anything you could make up?

It’s real. It amazes me how cynical the world has become when we just assume anything that’s a reality show is scripted and fake. We are meeting real people in real places in America, learning about them and walking a mile in their shoes.

Catfish follows people who have fallen for someone online and their journey in discovering that they’re not really the attractive person they say they are.

Occasionally there are bad guys but it’s too simplistic and reductive to paint anyone doing something bad as a bad guy. They generally have a pretty compelling justification as to why they’re doing what they’re doing.

It’s been one of MTV’s biggest hits of recent years. There seems very little M in MTV any more.

In an odd way MTV was ahead of the game in every respect. They were the first music video people, then in the 1990s they did TRL – Total Request Live – a user-generated interactive jukebox, which was doing something like the internet before the internet. They helped usher in that element of fan engagement and interactivity into youth culture which is prevalent online.

If MTV killed the radio star, who killed the video star – on TV at least?

The video stars are more alive now than they ever have been – viral videos, YouTube and Vine stars. What’s exciting now is there are a lot of young film-makers who don’t want to be feature film directors, their aspiration is to have a vlog and use their own lives as inspiration. They have a voice that people are listening to. That’s where I got started and I hope I’m bringing some of the things I learned doing that to a feature film.

Your debut feature We Are Your Friends is about being a DJ.

They are the rock stars of today. In the 1960s and ’70s it was rock stars, in the ’80s it was pop stars, in the ’90s it was hip-hop stars and now it’s DJs. These guys are living the life. That’s not relatable but aspiring to want to be one of them is very relatable.

I’m about the same age as Calvin Harris and come from an average Scottish town too but I’m not one of the world’s highest paid entertainers. What’s he done that I haven’t?

If you’ve ever been to an incredible DJ set you’d have a lot more respect. They’re inventing sounds and editing them together.

I’ve never had much respect for DJs but I understand there’s quite a science to it. They aim to raise your heartbeat to a magic rate of 128 bpm…

That’s the tip of the iceberg. Reading a crowd, bringing a party up, bringing it down, you’re essentially curating and editing.

Zac Efron’s character in the film is searching for the one hit that will make a career. Is that all you need?

It’s not about having one hit, it’s about finding your own voice. In the past you needed a whole album, in our world of iTunes and Spotify to get started you might only need one track. On a cynical level, sometimes a band only needs one hit. Sometimes a film-maker only needs one movie, then they’re off to the races.

We Are Your Friends is in cinemas now

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Baroness Floella Benjamin on being Black on TV, Play School and giving hope to children in poverty
Baroness Floella Benjamin
TV

Baroness Floella Benjamin on being Black on TV, Play School and giving hope to children in poverty

Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out
TV

Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9
TV

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa
TV

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know