Catching Up with Nick Uhas (The 2019 Edition)

Nick Uhas returned to Jake’s Take to talk about his new Netflix series: Blown Away. (Photo property of Marble Media & courtesy of Nick Uhas)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

It is always a pleasure to welcome back YouTube content creator and science educator Nick Uhas back to Jake’s Take.

2019 has been an incredible year for the science educator. Not only is Nick celebrating his tenth-anniversary posting science experiments onto YouTube, but he also has a show on Netflix. Nick hosts Blown Away, the very first television competition for glass artists. Ten master artists compete for the chance to win $50,000 worth of prizes and to be the first-ever Blown Away champion.

In this edition of Catching Up, Nick opened up about Blown Away, if he would return to Big Brother to host a Veto or HOH (Head of Household) competition, and if he would ever compete in either compete in America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ sophomore season or a Big Brother: Second Chances season.

Jacob Elyachar: It has been a year since we last spoke. How have you grown as a media entrepreneur?

Nick Uhas: That is such a crazy, loaded question. There are so many ways to answer that question. I will tell you one thing that was interesting from the last time we talked. I did an awesome Netflix show called Blown Away. It is a show that combines reality competition and glass blowing. It is the first show ever to combine these concepts. Blown Away was a significant stepping stone for me. In my mind, I thought: “Once you get to the set, it is going to be different. The production is going to operate at a higher level.” When I got to the set, it felt so much like being on so many other sets. I felt so well-prepared from all my YouTube content because we had done some intense, very production-heavy videos for the YouTube channel, that by the time that I got to a set that is going to be broadcasted to roughly 150 million people for Netflix, it did not feel that far off.  There were a lot more cameras and crew members on set. But, I did not think that I was over my head. I felt very comfortable being on set and being in the scenario.

I have a background in both Reality TV and DIY (do-it-yourself) and Blown Away perfectly combined them.  Thanks to my experience with Blown Away, I felt like I have arrived. I am qualified enough to be on this set that it feels natural. I feel like that comfort has allowed me to enjoy that process. I truly enjoyed my time on the set of Blown Away. I enjoyed working with directors, producers, and cast members. Everything about it: I loved waking up and going to set, getting the dailies, scripts, and my talking points. I have been working in media now for ten years.

Jacob Elyachar: That’s correct.  This year marks your tenth anniversary in media.
Nick Uhas:  When I started my career in 2009, I was totally on a different track. I was in pre-medicine.  I wanted to be a physician, and I even studied for the MCAT. This (media career) is ten years in the making and the pieces are fitting together.

Nick Uhas hosts Blown Away! The show is the first ever Reality TV competition that focuses on glass artists. (Video property of Netflix)

Jacob Elyachar: Awesome. We will get back to your YouTube channel later on in this conversation. Let’s talk about Blown Away. How did you get interested in this project?

Nick Uhas: I was working on a project for my YouTube channel in New York City, and I was doing some content, and I was in an Uber vehicle. When you work in media, you tend to get a lot of offers that sometimes they do not go anywhere.  They have an idea, they want you to work for a project, and then they just kind of land flat or the show does not get developed or whatever. I mean, it’s common in the media world for things to not pan out. Blown Away came across my email and I was like, “Oh, this sounds cool. I would love to do this. And so yes, I’m available.” It seemed like everything happened in lock and step. Meaning they were just like, “Okay, cool. You’re moving on to the next round. Okay, cool. Here, let’s discuss the dates.”

It seemed to happen fast, as far as them wanting me to come on board. I found out later that the production team looked at my YouTube content and studied how I hosted the type of stuff that I was familiar with and my background in the DIY space.  They specifically chose me actually over some of the other hosts because of my YouTube channel, which I think is a cool thing.  I want people to be very aware that you do not need 1 million subscribers or 10 million subscribers to get big offers. I would consider hosting a Netflix show a relatively big thing in the media world. It is a refreshing reassurance that putting good content out there into the universe via YouTube is an excellent way to market yourself, regardless of the subscribership count or view count. I mean, honestly, some of our videos do not get gazillion views. They were just either they did not fit the algorithm, or they just were creative or whatever. Some of them do get a lot of views. But like I said, the channel isn’t this giant entity. We’re not in that million range, and we’re still getting excellent feedback. I hope that it becomes encouraging for people that maybe don’t have a million subscribers or even half a million subscribers or whatever the number is, that having a YouTube channel and being active on it is a good thing, regardless.

Ten master glass artists will face off for $50,000 worth of prizes and the title of Blown Away champion! (Poster property of Netflix & courtesy of Nick Uhas)

Jacob Elyachar: In your humble opinion, how does Blown Away stand out in the crowded world of competitive reality TV shows?

Nick Uhas: You are right, Jacob. There is a lot of competitive reality TV shows. There is a lot of reality TV in general. It is so rare for both networks and streaming services to air a first of its kind program. A lot of times, you get a lot of repeats, meaning it’s generally the same concept, but it’s just a rehashed version of something. Look at how many shows are in this vein of like Real Housewives. Look at Real Housewives of Atlanta, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Real Housewives of Orange County. There are a lot of repeating elements. Blown Away is the very first show that combines glassblowing and competition reality, which is super exciting, because glassblowing, in general, is so visually appealing.

There’s fire; there’s molten stuff, it’s gooey, it’s coming out of the furnace, it’s like things can break. The way that people work with glass is super exciting. It is like I tell people it’s sort of akin to this show called Forged in Fire which is they are making swords.  It is kind of almost like a metallurgy-type show. Sparks are flying, and things are red-hot. It is visually similar to that, but it is more pretty. It is kind of like the hotter sibling, figuratively speaking, of a show that’s like metalworking. It is an exciting medium. Because it is competition reality, the stakes are super high. I do not think a show really would necessarily work totally or just about glassblowing, in general. I guess you could, but I think it should be a reality competition.  You are getting a lot of fresh concepts.  The series explores a lot of amazing artists. Viewers get to explicitly see what they do with a show that revolves around competition reality in glass blowing.  I do not think a show really would necessarily work totally or just about glassblowing, in general. I guess you could, but I believe that the show is very fitting that it’s a competition reality because you are getting a lot of really cool concepts.  You are also exploring a lot of really cool artists, and precisely what they do, with a show that revolves around competition reality in glass blowing.

Jacob Elyachar: What have been some of the challenges that you faced during this latest phase in your career? How did you overcome them?

Nick Uhas: One of the things that have been the most challenging is how do you host a show in Canada for 45 days, in Toronto, while still making content for your YouTube channel. It was an interesting sort of time last year because we had done all this content all summer long and it was kind of weird, we were coming towards the end, and it was like, okay, fantastic opportunity to do this thing in Toronto, but how do we keep the gears turning and how do we keep the content churning out? I managed to produce a video while I was in Canada on one of my days off. I went down to this place called Eternal Flame Falls. There’s a fire that comes out of this place underneath of a waterfall. Super interesting. Cool science behind it. But I could squeeze out one video in between six weeks of filming. I realized: “Oh, okay, cannot do that again.” I learned that I do not know if I thought it through as far as how that was going to work. Maybe I thought I was going to have more free time. I do not know. What I realized is that this year, in 2019 moving into 2020, definitely have systems in place that are allowing us to produce content around the clock so that we’re always having something coming out. Because now, weirdly, too, the Netflix show is proof that having content on the channel is very important. You do want always to be feeding this beast. A challenge is getting your bases covered and operating more like a business and less just kind of like a willy-nilly creator and not just considering, “Hey, I want to create a video today,” but like, “Hey, it’s a schedule. We’re going to have to stick to it. We are going to have to put out content every week, every two weeks, whatever that is, and stick to it.”

Jacob Elyachar: During Blown Away’s teaser trailer, you mentioned that you competed on Big Brother. Several alums of the CBS series have returned to host various HOH (Head of Household) and Veto competitions. If Big Brother producers invited you to host a science-themed competition, would you return? Why or why not?

Nick Uhas: I would do it. I have done so many guest appearance for doing science things; it would be cool to go back into the house. Plus, now that I think about it, if I did host a competition, I probably would respectively spend more time in the house than I did during my time while I was there as a contestant. In relation, it would probably be 10 percent of the time that I was there. I would do it one because I love science; two, it just would be exciting to get back into the house and just kind of be back in around that. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything. Three, it would be cool and exciting to sort of combine those two concepts, science and something with Big Brother, some HOH thing. We pretty much have a standard show now. We pretty much have precisely what we do. If they came to me with something science-related, I would pretty much already have a presentation ready to go for them. Also, too, to give me another reason to connect more Big Brother fans, which I would always love to do, so. Any way to connect back with the Big Brother roots would be an excellent excuse to do it. It’s kind of like going back to your hometown and just meeting up with old friends. It’s going to be kind of similar in vein.

Jacob Elyachar: I have a hypothetical question to ask you.

Nick Uhas: Sure.

Jacob Elyachar: You are alumni of both Big Brother and America’s Got Talent. If you had the opportunity to compete in Big Brother: Second Chances or participate in the sophomore season of America’s Got Talent: The Champions, what show would you choose?

Nick Uhas: I would choose Big Brother. I liked competing on America’s Got Talent (AGT), but the game of Big Brother is way more demanding. AGT is performance-based, and you have a show, perform the act, and it is constrained to that show. Big Brother is this encompassing show. I enjoyed the mental exercise more than so many other things that I have ever done, and I did not get to see it out, and I felt like I did not get to exercise that whole gameplay aspect. If I ever had a chance to go back for either/or and I could only choose one, I would choose Big Brother. But in a perfect world, or actually, in any world, I would somehow negotiate my way to do both.

Jacob Elyachar: As long as both shows are not filming at the same time!

Nick Uhas: Exactly!

Nick Uhas and his team created Game of Thrones Wild Fire! (Video property of Nick Uhas)

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s go back to your YouTube channel. I had the opportunity to check out some of your experiments, including the massive spin art paintings. You also recreated the Game of Thrones wildfire. How do you keep on finding these experiments?

Nick Uhas: It is a combination of actually a couple of people. I will come up with some ideas and write them on an Excel file sheet. Next, I will have brainstorming sessions. I will invite some of my buddies over.  We will sit in my living room, pace back and forth and we will try to think of the craziest, wackiest things possible, and then go back into how could we do that. Sometimes other ideas sort of spin-off from that.

Sometimes subscribers suggest an experiment to me, and they will say: “Hey, listen, I had this idea. I’ve never seen this done before, and I think this would be cool for your YouTube channel.” I reply: “Dude, there is no way.” I do not even want to hear it out. It’s just so crazy. Or, eh, it’s probably not a good fit.  Other times the concepts are exciting, and they only have not been played out on YouTube yet, and that’s such a good idea because it just hasn’t been done yet on YouTube.

I am always trying to find concepts that just have not been done yet. Or maybe they have been done sort of, but this spin is unique, or some unique angle. We do not just like to replicate experiments. Sometimes we find ourselves replicating them just because we want to try them for ourselves, because then sometimes when you do something for yourself, it kind of spins off into a bunch of other ideas. We replicate people’s experiments. But for the most part, we try to bring a unique spin or do something new. Truthfully, not only do we have brainstorming sessions with multiple brains and multiple creatives all in one thing. A lot of times, we come up with so much creative that some things will be in the pipeline for so long that it would take a year for us to do it.

We just did a video yesterday where I wanted to do this last year. We created this thing called the barbecue blast furnace, even though it’s technically a forge. It’s a barbecue, as a regular barbecue, and we poured this plaster cement stuff inside, and then we fill it with charcoal, and then we force induct air through a vacuum cleaner on the reverse, and it melted aluminum, no problem. But I was always inquisitive if it could melt glass. We ended up crushing a bunch of wine bottles down together, and we fired it up last night to see if it could melt glass. The result was just ridiculous. But that video’s coming out in two weeks. My subscribers will see it on my YouTube channel. However, the result was so wacky. It just was unpredictable, but very interesting.

Jacob Elyachar: What can my readers expect from you as 2019 marches its conclusion?

Nick Uhas: It is interesting with 2019. This part of the year is where usually speaking, just in a total business cycle. Usually, it starts to turn around in January and then into late spring and early summer. My team sort of bringing the deals that began in 2019 into fruition. Usually, in the summer months is when we are starting to do a lot of our more significant branded content. I would say that people can expect some exciting, super dynamic things that you would not expect. Massive experiments are usually happening right around now, and they get posted in the fall. You are going to plan some fascinating, very high-end production-value experiments. That is all I can say for now. But I can say that they have been popular on our channel in the past, and I think the viewers are going to enjoy them.

For more information about Nick Uhas’s work, visit his website! You can also connect Nick on social media, visit his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar