INTERVIEW: From AFL to the TV screen
Excelling in any industry is a challenge, but reaching the top of your game in multiple fields is reserved for the talented few. Former AFL player Troy Gray was a defender for the Sydney Swans and St Kilda Saints in the ’90s. It was his job to mark some of the greatest players of all time. Nowadays, Troy covers an entirely different beast, television. He is the man behind Charity TV Global. Its hit show ‘Adventure All Stars’ airs on 7TWO. Find out more at adventureallstars.tv.
Matt Collins: The Sydney Swans weren’t doing much good back in the ’80s and ’90s.
Troy Gray: Yeah, most people talk about Brownlow medals and AFL grand finals and other records, but I was a part of modern football history where we lost 26 games in a row at AFL level, and that is a record.
MC: Do you have any regrets from your AFL playing days?
TG: I don’t want to be one of these people who looks back, but I think we all have regrets. There are things I could have done slightly better, but I don’t think I was ever going to be a great player. I was a grinder, and someone who really enjoyed the game. I look back very fondly. I got to play on some of the biggest sporting grounds in the world and had a good time doing it.
MC: Let’s turn the page and talk about your work in television.
TG: Post football, I got involved in television. I really had the urge to not only be in front of the camera but I developed a number of programs in the lifestyle sector.
MC: Was that an obvious transition after footy?
TG: No, not at all, because I wasn’t a high-profile player. It was those sort of players that were getting all the media gigs. I was just a guy in the background who really admired how the media went about things. I actually used to go in after hours. I would go in during the midnight shift and ask the announcers how they edited, how they created content, and then I got involved in production and presenting. I developed a TV show without knowledge of how to film or structure a crew or anything. It was quite bizarre.
MC: So what did you do?
TG: I remember getting the green light from Channel 9 for a show called Feeling Good going back about 15 years ago. They were happy to take eight episodes. I was then sitting at home, I had no film crew and no idea of what to do. So what I started doing was ringing film crews and production companies. I would say, ‘Hey guys, I’ve got this show on Channel 9 and I am after a film crew. Are you available?’ They would ask me, ‘Sure, what cameras are you using?’ and I’d say, ‘What cameras do you use?’ and they’d tell me. So I’d say, ‘Well, that’s what I use too.’
MC: Was that a scary time? Going in so naive?
TG: No, it was exciting. I remember the first time we were on location, we had people to interview and there were sound technicians and camera crews and I had a film producer. They are all looking at me saying, ‘All right boss, what do we do?’ And I would say, ‘Well, what would you guys do?’ And away we went.
MC: How does Charity TV Global differ from other television platforms?
TG: It’s where we mix philanthropy with entertainment. How that works is we talk with people who want to be on television. We say to them: If the casting process requires them to raise money, would they be interested to do so? The bonus is we reward them with a trip away. That has developed into a series called Adventure All Stars.
MC: Tell me if I’m on the right track. So the people who raise the most money, they automatically get a spot on the show?
TG: No, basically anyone can apply – and that is the beauty of the show. Most TV shows, and that is what we wanted to avoid, they want you to be a certain type of person. They are looking for the loud one, or the crazy one, the villain, the bitchy one, and so on. We thought, why can’t we have a format or a platform where absolutely anyone can apply? And the only prerequisite is to raise money?
MC: Now, Troy, after 15 years, have you learnt a bit more about cameras and producing television?
TG: Ha, ha. Yes, yes I’d like to say that I have. I walk around now and I know where to position people and how to format the itineraries. I’ve got to say the people in the industry behind the scenes have really got to be acknowledged. They do a remarkable job.
MC: You seem like a pretty entrepreneurial, forward-thinking guy. What’s the next couple of exciting chapters for Troy Gray?
TG: Well, I’ve tried many things, but at the moment my passion and all my energy is going into the show and helping communities all around the world. I’m pretty excited about 2020 and what we have in store.