It’s a great pleasure for me this week to bring you the first part of my EXCLUSIVE interview with Million Dollar Minute Champion Alex Dusek. Back in April this year, Alex played (and won!) 9 nights on this Australian game show – which is similar in format to Temptation and Sale of The Century – going home with $307,000 for his troubles. Alex is a very friendly and thoughtful young man, and it was a great pleasure to talk to him for this blog. But enough of the preamble… I’m sure you’ll realise all that as you read the interview. So here it is. Enjoy!
SH: Alex Dusek, winner of $307, 000 on Million Dollar Minute. One of the show’s biggest winners! Welcome to howtowingameshows.com, and thank you for talking to me this morning.
AD: It’s a pleasure Stephen, thanks for having me.
SH: By way of background, for those who don’t know, Million Dollar Minute is an Australian game show; it is an original(-ish) format. What was your life like before going on the show? The articles afterwards described you as a “supermarket shelf stacker” and an “aspiring film maker”. Were you happy with those descriptions of you?
AD: I was happy with those. Everybody loves a rags-to-riches story, especially a television publicity department. All of that information was in the dossier that I had written down so they were well within their rights to go along that path. When I went on the show it had been two years since I stacked shelves; In the meantime I worked with Gazman, as a menswear retail assistant, folding jumpers and dressing mannequins. But working at Coles was the longest job that I had, 9 years in total, so I felt it was fair to be identified that way. And I had just started in film and I will be doing that for a very long time. So I thought it was fair.
SH: How long is the course, what is the course and how far into it are you?
SH: Had you watched Million Dollar Minute from the beginning? It is a fairly new show.
AD: It is. I had probably watched almost every episode, to be honest.
SH: Before Million Dollar Minute were you a game show / quiz show fan? A trivia buff?
AD: Definitely. I had gone to trivia nights with my dad as a teenager, every Tuesday night. I almost always did the quiz in The Herald Sun before school, and watched One VS 100, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Sale of the Century, Temptation, pretty much any show that was on, The Einstein Factor, any show that was on, I would watch.
SH: Were you waiting for your chance to have a crack at one of these shows?
AD: I was. I was definitely waiting to see if a new format came along, something that I could apply for. I had been on Hot Seat previously. I didn’t win anything, I was the first person up and had the biggest decision of “do I stay and try and answer all the questions or do I answer a couple, pass, and try and get back in?” I took the latter option and I just missed out on coming back in for the $50,000 question.
SH: What do you think of the format for Millionaire Hot Seat, as opposed to the original Millionaire?
AD: To me, I think it is a watered down version of Millionaire, which was so iconic. Personally, my favourites are Sale of the Century / Temptation / MDM… the three-person, speed-based competition. I think that is the optimal test of speed and daring. I think that the Million Dollar Hot Seat and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (the original format) is a test of a broader knowledge, good guessing and interpreting (host) Eddie (McGuire), and doesn’t carry that kind of frenetic, split-second reaction time talent that some of the competition-based ones do.
SH: How did you train for going on Million Dollar Minute?
AD: I watched the episodes as best as I could, and competed against the television, whacking the table as a makeshift buzzer. I did some prep in reading books and practising questions but it is hard, because you have to keep your training very general. Shows like MDM don’t ask questions very far out of public knowledge, nothing is esoteric. So you have to keep it to pop culture, to music, to movies, to general political and geographic questions. You just have to focus on generalization, and not try to learn anything new. Because often when they call you to go on the show, it only gives you a very small window of time between the call and the show. And so by learning anything new, you can try to cram too much in your mind and it can slow you down; it can slow your reaction times down. So you almost want to practice everything that you already know.
And that’s where I’ll leave my chat with Alex this week, bit there’s still plenty of really good stuff to come, including:
– Tactics for dealing with your opponents, both before AND during the game,
– Mantras and Self-Talk to keep you on track in ‘the heat of battle’,
– the different types of questions within quiz shows, and how to approach them,
– and a very ’21st Century’ quiz show training technique that wouldn’t have been available at all 15 years ago, but is available to pretty much everyone now….
But next week, our conversation turns to The Audition Process, and that fateful moment of Getting The Call that tells you that you’re actually going to be on the show…. so don’t miss it.
Next Tuesday, right here!