The waiter serves lunch. Augustine Neglia he is with his teammates, a cameraman and a producer. That morning, Friday, January 14, they traveled from Mar del Plata to Cariló to film episodes for “Selfie mode” y “Foodie way” and to give some interviews. It’s two in the afternoon and he hasn’t stopped yet, but when his plate arrives he doesn’t take a bite. “This is great for recording. Eat yourselves, ”she tells the rest and leaves with her camera to see the chef. That is probably his secret: being focused on generating content 24 hours a day.
Neglia knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a television host and if social networks and platforms like YouTube had existed twenty years ago —when he started— perhaps he would have exploded as a streamer. His trajectory is more like that of a centennial than that of any traditional TV figure: he produces his show, films it, and contacts the guests. And, until he arrived at América TV, where he is about to start his seventh season, he himself looked for sponsors, he contacted the channels that might be interested in broadcasting his product.
The idea of doing a travel program was there from the beginning, but before that he had two jobs that were key for him to know how the media industry worked. He had enrolled in Social Communication in Mendoza and got a position at El Mercurio, in Chile. He was 21 years old and his role was to tour Argentina to link the newspaper with the tourism ministries of the provinces. Shortly after, he began to work in the commercial area of Grupo Televisa’s magazines. At 24 he took courage and set up his first production company.
News: What was the first show you recorded?
Augustine Neglia: The first one, which was around 15 years ago, was a kind of reality show. It was about showing a real couple who traveled through all the all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean. It was a lot of fun and I spent two and a half years traveling with it. I did it with a girlfriend I had at the time and who accompanied me.
News: And where were these programs broadcast?
Neglia: I was looking. For example, these programs came out on Channel 12 in Córdoba and on Channel 3 in Rosario. Later we sold it to an international channel called Sun Channel, which is broadcast in about 20 countries. Later I ended up selling them 3 or 4 different cycles. The last one, in fact, was the prelude to “Selfie Mode”.
News: He was ahead of the language of the streamers.
Neglia: The word “selfie” seemed funny to me and it was something that was just emerging. The first selfie on Instagram had gone viral and I thought that was it, that I had to film myself traveling and talking to the camera. That’s how it came about, it was more or less in 2014 or 2015. People still didn’t know how to produce their own content like they do now. What’s more, I remember walking through the streets of Europe talking to the camera and being looked at strangely.
With “Selfie mode” he hit the key. The concept of the program was always the same: Agustín recounting his travels in the first person. “I tried to put myself in the shoes of the average guy who travels to Europe once in a while and tries to make an ideal route,” he says. The program was growing, he could live on it, but the explosion came with his landing in America.
Neglia: That was the exponential jump. My Instagram, for example, went from having 10,000 followers to 100,000. It was a madness that began to increase and did not stop. On top of that, the channel adopted me as one of its figures. Suddenly they began to meet me on the street. It was a break because until then everything was very low-level work producing, recording, looking for sponsors.
News: Was there something that made you dizzy from that fame?
Neglia: I knew it was going to happen because I always looked for it. But the first day that they were going to broadcast a “Selfie Mode” program on the channel, I was very attentive to Twitter. I was a little scared to be so exposed with this travel thing, something that not everyone can do. I was scared of the idea that it would generate rejection. But it didn’t happen. And when it didn’t happen I said “okay, we’re good”. In the end, the opposite turned out. It’s more, I never had haters. It is true that when you become massive you run more risk, but I also believe that there is something in the essence of the program and how it is told that should not change.
News: With whom do you talk about the subject of fame? Do you receive advice?
Neglia: What I talked about when I was little with my parents. That fits you. I always try to chat with friends older than me. There are people who are not in the middle and who tell you that you have to keep your feet on the ground. I am aware that this is a job, but a super privileged job, which is something out of the ordinary. And it’s not just traveling, that’s already a lot. With the massiveness of the program came a lot of other things. Suddenly they invite me to an event and they not only invite me, but they show me that they want me there and they give me everything. For this reason, I repeat you have to have your feet on the ground and sometimes you come across someone who marks you even if they are not a godfather or a lifelong friend. It happened to me in San Juan. I had traveled to show the El Leoncito Astronomical Observatory and I interviewed a 70-year-old man who had been working observing the cosmos since he was 20. He explained to me: “What I look at is to find out if that galaxy is opening or closing and in these 50 years it has hardly moved”, he told me. There you realize how fleeting we are and that there is no point in enlarging or feeling like a rockstar because we are a particle in the universe.
Growth. On América TV every Saturday at midnight an episode of “Modo foodie” premieres and every Sunday one of “Modo selfie”. In addition, from Monday to Friday previous programs are repeated. There is no doubt: the format works. That is why this year Agustín is determined to put even more energy into the project. In 2023, the cycle will add the participation of celebrities, but there is also an ambitious travel objective: “I am going to connect the 7 wonders of the world in record time with a mission to raise awareness for social equality”, says the driver.
However, even if it doesn’t happen anytime soon, Neglia knows her role in the cycle isn’t forever. Life on an airplane, which can become the dream of any mortal, can also become a tiring routine.
Neglia: For some time now I have been traveling as little as possible. I arrive at a place and arrange everything to produce a lot of content in a few days. Many times I want to go back to my house and I also know that it is very likely that I will return to that place soon, something that did not happen to me when I started. It happened to me in 2022. I went to the Vatican to make a documentary in tribute to Diego Maradona. We went through the NGO Scholas Ocurrentes. I went with a producer for three days: we arrived, we filmed the match, we greeted the Pope and we went back. My partner told me that we should take advantage of it, that we should stay two or three more days and I told him that it was not necessary, that we would surely return in two or three months. No sooner said than done.
News: Does “Selfie Mode” have an expiration date?
Neglia: We talk about it a lot. The program aims to be a classic, but naturally I’m going to run, “Selfie mode” will continue for many more years and the producer will continue to do so. What happens is that after so many years my tastes and my knowledge are taking me to another side, to a more business and investment side.
News: And what side projects are you working on?
Neglia: Everything comes from the same place. “Modo foodie” linked me a lot with the gastronomic sector and now I am with a very big project, which is the landing of Alejandro Vigil, the Argentine winemaker, in the United States. The idea is to first make a restaurant with an investment of about 5 million dollars.
News: What is your role?
Neglia: I am one of the founding partners of the idea. I am not the investor, clearly, but when you generate the links that I made and transmit trust, you can present the investor group. They respect me for the links I have, for the world vision that I was forming. Also, I’m also in another project: I recently partnered with some guys who have a bar that today is one of the 30 best in the world. It’s called “Tres monos” and it’s ranked 27th in the “Fifty best”. The head is Sebastián Atienza, who is a number one. During the pandemic, he told me that he wanted to open another business and I told him to count on me. It is a delicatessen-type restaurant in Palermo that behind has a bar set in the ’90s. That entrepreneurial facet is something that generates a lot of enthusiasm for me and although “Selfie Mode” and “Foodie Mode” are still a priority, over the years that other part of me may have more weight..