EXCLUSIVE Interview With ‘Million Dollar Minute’ Champ Alex Dusek – Part II

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Last week, in the first part of our interview, I asked Alex about his trivia / quiz background, and how he trained for appearing on Million Dollar Minute. This week, we approach the audition process….

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SH: Can you talk us through the audition, the interview process?

AD: The audition was two written tests. There were 100 people at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Kilda. There was a 40 question test that they gave us, that we had about 20 minutes to do. You definitely had enough time for each question; they’re similar questions to the ones on the show. There were 100 people doing that 40 question quiz. I think they had a cut off mark, with the people getting above that number being allowed to stay for the next round. They would compile the answers and then read out the people who I believe got above the hurdle mark. That left about 10 – 15 people in the room. And so then we were given another quiz which was 14 questions long. The questions were more difficult, but there was no elimination after that. The 10 -15 people who did that quiz still got to stay.

Then after that, they did video interviews with each of us, recording a little bit of chat and we talked about ourselves. Now I believe they do buzzer/speed tests as well.

SH: Oh really? That’s in the studio? Or is there a sort of mock-up studio?

AD: It was in the conference room of the Four Seasons Hotel.

SH: They actually have buzzers wired up as per the show, like the same type of buzzers?

AD:I believe so, the same red buzzers.

SH: When you got The Call saying “Hey Alex, guess what? You’re coming on the show”, what was your first gut reaction?

AD: I remember I was outside Uni. I just finished class and I was waiting outside this factory and I was really elated. I felt really great about it. I did the auditions in September and this was now February in the next year. I had kind of wondered if I would ever get called up. So I was really feeling good about it and excited.

SH: And how long was it, in your case, from getting The Call to getting on the show?

AD: It was about 9 days.

SH: How did the experience of actually doing the show compare with how you thought it would be?

AD: When I got to the studio that first day I was shaking, I couldn’t stop myself shaking. It was kind of like it had finally come around, what I had really wanted to do for such a long time and it was overwhelming. One small thing about playing the game in the studio, it was a lot colder than I thought it would be. It is a warehouse, essentially. Also, when you watch it at home, it’s a complete episode and it’s all put together, but when you film it, it’s more like four separate segments. At home you have the audio cues, and breaks that tell you the start and end times, and pointers to when the crucial moments will occur. You see a complete game unfold from the best possible angles to make it entertaining. When you are in the studio you don’t see your score, you don’t see your opponents’ scores; you don’t know until the breaks if you are behind or ahead and if you are in trouble or if “this is a huge moment”, then you need to realize it for yourself. There is a series of questions, and you are somehow a part of it. It feels like a game with your friends, but there’s all this on the line. And later, it’ll be broadcast to a national audience, which feels weird.

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“Weird”, indeed. I think this is an important point.

Believe it or not,  Million Dollar Minute is…

spoiler alert…..

… filmed without a live studio audience.

And I think, as an aspiring quiz show contestant, that may be something for you to be mindful of. The quiz show you’re appearing on may not necessarily have those people clapping and cheering that you hear in the finished product, when you watch it at home. On my two experiences – Temptation and Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster, there were live audiences there to watch, and I knew that there would be, going in. I think being aware – ahead of time – that there may not be a live audience on the show you’re about to appear on can only help your mental state. In short, when you audition for a quiz show, find out in advance, if you can, if it’s recorded before a live studio audience. It’s a small bit of information, bit it may be helpful, and it’s one fewer surprise on the day. It may even give you a slight edge over your opponents.

Forewarned is forearmed….

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