Welcome to sophomore year at The Tragedy Academy, where with an open mind and a sense of humor - we see how past tragedy lays a foundation for a better humanity. The Tragedy Academy is a show created to bridge societal divides and be a judgment-free zone, but it’s also the biohazard of podcasts! Today’s episode features a conversation between host Jay and special guest Gary DeFranco. Gary is the executive producer of The Ultimate Fighter. He’s the creative behind Max Glow MMA and the developing concept of Not Uranus. He and Jay talk about creative ventures, COVID-19, diversity, and much more!
Today’s episode is part 1 of 2 that features a conversation between host Jay and special guest Gary DeFranco. Gary is the executive producer of The Ultimate Fighter and the creative behind Max Glow MMA and the developing concept of Not Uranus. He and Jay talk about creative ventures, COVID-19, Diversity, and much more!
🤕 Mental Health
🥋 TUF, the pandemic, and training
🤼♀️ MAX Glow MMA
👽 Not Uranus
💪🏽 Worklife balance
👩🏻💻 Collaboration & Innovation
👨🎨 Creative expression with graffiti
To start the conversation, Jay asks Gary a question at the front of everyone’s minds these days: what did he do during the shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Overall, Gary worked hard to maximize his time during the season and watched as his associates found ways to strike a new sense of life balance. Some innovation arose out of the unique pressures, as did a clearer understanding of the limitations of technology. All the while, keeping production value and personal wellbeing priorities drove how Gary and his collaborators adapted.
In Gary’s case, creativity also heavily shaped his pandemic experience. He worked on several ideas alongside friends, most notably his concept for a show entitled Not Uranus. The show, mainly geared toward kids in and around their early teens, grew out of an experience in Gary’s Cleveland upbringing and dealt with such things as graffiti, outside perspectives and judgment, and Diversity. As they discuss the show and its themes, Gary and Jay talk about Gary’s childhood, mindful moments, opportunities for creativity, different forms creativity takes, Jay’s idea of “rungs of happiness,” and struggle.
Jay and Gary both come from backgrounds involving struggle. From shopping through defective grocery and clothing items to stockpiling ramen, they’ve spent decades figuring out how to weather their struggle and use it to their advantage. Jay’s conviction is that struggle begets empathy, allowing people to understand the human experience better. It also fosters ingenuity, enhances the sense of doing things for the love of them, and shapes Jay’s thoughts about life being a circle of stifling and revisiting gifts meant to be shared with the world.
Concluding their conversation surrounding the themes of Not Uranus, Gary and Jay conclude that we need all aliens welcome. People, Gary asserts, need to talk to each other. And while working for others’ comfort - represented for Gary by his friends’ mothers serving him spaghetti all the time rather than food from their own cultures - can rob people of the benefits of Diversity. The problem of limited perspectives has rippling effects on society. One particular note to producers like Gary is the need to roll out content carefully, not just for young audiences but for elders who are unused to technological advancements and the nuances their use creates.
Continuing under the theme of technology, Gary, and Jay touch on the political and manipulative elements of technological use, emphasize the need for time off and talk through kinds of jobs and the development of camera etiquette. Both offer thoughts on how personal and technical connections in the workplace will change as the pandemic season wanes, weighing relational factors and real estate pressures. The population of workers that service physical worksites, such as cooks and cleaners, is challenging; At the same time, there’s no way to work out a solution immediately; an overhaul of the employment landscape is still in process.
And today, more than in the previous generations, there are many outlets for creative content production. There’s an audience for everyone, and if you find the right people, they’ll pay for what you create. Gary’s company, Max Glow MMA, was founded in light of this reality. Gary founded the company during the pandemic, and he crafted it with the goal to market athletes. He wants to help them create their kinds of art without being taken advantage of and to help them reach their ideal niche audiences.
The conversation leads Gary to mention that he’s always had small-scale mental health issues, to which Jay responds, “Everybody does!” Art can help with mental health, as it allows people to plug holes with the right things. In Gary’s view, the standard medication for mental health isn’t always a good first step. Instead, it’s generally best to try other things first. Jay posits the complementary thought that medication is a tool to curb difficulties enough to make other meaningful changes. He and Gary discuss the value of Eastern medical ideas, plant medicine, and the like.
As the episode wraps up, the two offer concluding thoughts on the value of money, the manipulation that drives excessive working, the appeal of “ultimate failures,” and Gary’s commitment to having diverse voices contribute to his Not Uranus project. Listeners should be on the lookout for a Not Uranus project website coming soon!
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Executive Producer / Creative / Recording Artist
Gary is the Executive Producer of UFC's The Ultimate Fighter, Discovery Channel's "Street Outlaws." and numerous other productions. He’s a recording artist and the owner and creative behind Max Glow MMA / Media / Records and the developing concept of Not Uranus. With over 18 years of experience producing reality television, DeFranco has a unique perspective and is looking to help fighters and entertainers maximize their earning potential. As the producer of shows like The Ultimate Fighter and Street Outlaws, DeFranco has seen it all and is here to give us the info.