Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Maximilian Guen (GLS '14) on Becoming a Media Entrepreneur
What did you study at NYU?
I studied Global Liberal Studies. Dean Fred Schwarzbach was the pioneer of GLS which married together an interesting mix of people with open minds to science, philosophy and the arts.
The fact that I have ended up in media is a prime example of its expansive focus. The subject of my thesis was “How to Manipulate the Mind using Visual Media.”
What inspired you to co-found Magna Carta, a creative firm, with fellow NYU alumnus Matthew Firpo (TSOA ’12)?
The environment of NYU and the energy of New York provided the inspiration. We realized that there was a gap in the media world and we wanted to create a company that acts as a pipeline for us and a small group of talented directors to constantly be creating and telling powerful stories across all mediums that are visual. We specialize in commercial, narrative, documentary and interactive content with the plans to develop a TV division.
How has the company grown since it was founded in 2012?
While still at NYU we took on our first client, which was Tinder in their early days. As they grew we continued to work with top companies in tech and otherwise. Since then, we’ve worked on commercial campaigns around the world with clients such as Chase, United Airlines, Snapchat, Paperless Post, Visa, and Sony Music. We have a team based in New York with a small office in London. We plan to continue to grow our unique roster of directors and production staff over the next few months. We are also currently expanding our narrative Film & TV department with some great projects in the pipeline.
What projects are you most proud of?
I wouldn’t narrow it down to one thing, I get inspired by the idea of impacting people around the world everyday and changing their perceptions with the work that we do.
Can you tell us about The Refuge Project?
Refuge tells the human stories from the Syrian Refugee crisis. It was around November last year that Matthew and I started talking about this idea of taking our storytellers into the field to relate the human stories in an appalling crisis that is happening under our very eyes.
We built the project to be more than just a film but rather a multi-platform experience, called REFUGE. It is a film, a photo series, a book of essays, and most importantly a vehicle for raising awareness. We turned the events we held in NYC (at the French Institute Alliance Francaise), in London (at BAFTA), and in LA (at Anonymous Content) into multi-layered experiences. The engagement has been amazing, it has changed a lot of people's perceptions of the crisis and I hope that as many people as possible can watch REFUGE to spread the word.
You are on the UNICEF Next Generation NY Steering Committee. How did you get involved with UNICEF?
I was first introduced to UNICEF by the wonderful, and now co-chair, Leila Ladjevardian, and my sister Serena (GLS ’13) who co-founded the London board of Next Gen.
Congratulations on being named being named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list in Marketing & Advertising and Media. What advice would you give to current NYU students?
To this I’d say three things, first it is important to surround yourself with people that inspire you and not just in the same industry or focus. Inspiring people will expand your mind and push you to do your best.
Secondly, find your “thing.” You have to find the “thing” that you are passionate about. The tricky part is that it can really be anything at all.
This then leads to the third point which is to have confidence and persistence. Once you stumble upon your “thing,” you need persistence, you need to spend every waking hour, all day, everyday trying to become the best at it. The confidence part is mostly how you talk about what you’re doing. If you believe in your idea and you speak about it in a way that excites people you will rally support and make your “thing” happen.
To find out more about REFUGE, visit this website: http://www.refugeproject.co/