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

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Alex, with some money.

This week, as my chat with Alex continues, we begin to discuss his life after game show fame and fortune. And as such, it seems only natural to lead with this question….

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SH: How has the money made a difference to your life?

AD: In a way it hasn’t. I went on the show to prove to myself that I was a good quiz show player. That was my main mission, it was a personal quest. Anything that I won money wise was in a way incidental. It was a kind of marker of how much glory there was to be had on the show. I feel kind of uncomfortable talking about it to some people who only kind of see it in money terms. I don’t know how to articulate it. Personally for me it has been kind of character-defining. That’s how it can be. I love to absorb new knowledge, and I think people who really love learning and love quiz shows do that because they love learning new information and not because it is going to translate into money at some later stage.

I think first and foremost it’s a personal thing but then obviously you have this money in your bank account, and like you say, I do recall looking up sites on the internet and going “Oh, a Hovercraft – I could buy that!”

SH: (LAUGHING) Love a Hovercraft! Very practical. In the show, it was a real conversation point that you have written a screenplay – or several screenplays – and you chatted to Simon about using money that you won to fund producing a low budget indie feature… or more than one. Is that still the plan at the moment?

AD: It is the plan. I’ve got a year left on my course. I am going to need that, and probably a little bit more time afterwards, to become a good enough filmmaker to spend the money wisely on a production. A guy came to our uni recently, a guy by the name of Patrick Hughes, who directed The Expendables 3 as a direct result of backing his own films with his own money.

SH: My goodness. To be given the reigns to that as a director, what a huge responsibility.

AD: Exactly! He was making the transition from commercials to films and he wanted to get his career started. He used $300 000 of his own money – that amount, funnily enough – to get Red Hill (his first feature film) going and that got seen by Sylvester Stallone who in turn invited him to the US to direct Expendables 3. I think there is a need sometimes, even when you are as good a filmmaker as Patrick was at that time, to do something off your own bat and sink your own money in. It is kind of good to have that there for when a project arises. I am not exactly sure which one it will be yet, but it is such a handy thing to have for that purpose.

SH: That is an incredible success story and an incredible story of backing yourself. What’s Patrick Hughes doing next?

AD: Following from Expendables 3 and the talk that he gave at our Uni, I believe he was off to do a ride-along with the FBI which was part of his next film, and also doing something in Singapore, so I’m not exactly sure, but it’ll probably be in that ‘Action’ vein.

SH: I just have a couple more general Million Dollar Minute questions. In the ‘Million Dollar Minute’ game at the end of the show, after you have won through and beat your two opponents, you have the five multiple choice questions in… is it 30 seconds?

AD: One minute.

SH: That’s right – I was watching it at twice the normal speed. They did seem generally fairly easy to me. Did they seem easy to you? And if so, why do you think they are?

AD: They did. It’s just part of the format. I think they wanted something to follow the game, something where people would have a series of endgame questions which they will get right most of the time but would occasionally slip up on. If each of those 5 questions were hard, people would be stuck on various levels for 5 or 6 nights in a row, and no one would ever get to the very high levels.

They needed something where people could just go through it and maybe lose about one in every three or four. Just to add a little spice to having to come back and doing it again with that extra pressure. The questions were, on the whole, very easy a lot of the time so I felt a little bit embarrassed sometimes, hearing “these are the 5 questions, can you answer these 5 right in a minute?” Often they would be colloquial phrases and you’d have to choose one of three and it was simple, and you just felt bad making out it was difficult, saying “Oh, I happen to know this” when everybody in creation knows it. But then I have seen, with later champs, the questions stay at the same degree of easiness. At times you feel a little bit embarrassed that they are not harder but you see later that it is the same for another person up there.

That said, any of the questions can still trip you up depending on where your gaps in knowledge lie. On my very first night I said the Daintree rainforest was in the Kimberley, which would have been super straightforward for most people.

Usually two out of the five will be a little bit tricky at the later levels, but it is just a format thing.

SH: It’s definitely a very good ‘play-along-at-home’ thing too.

AD: Definitely. Adding an extra 6-8 minutes to the show.

SH: Is it really?

AD: I think so. Often on the broadcast the game itself is done by 5:48. That’s a lot of time for the Endgame, answering the five against the clock, and then going through those five questions and answers with Simon.

SH: Of course it was very noticeable that Simon asks you “which one were you not confident about?”, and surprise surprise – they leave that till last. Obviously, you’ve thought about and analyzed the game, and studied it and learned as much about it as you could before going on. You not only played the game well but you played the format well, too.

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we’ll elaborate on what we mean when we say “playing the format of a game show well”… so be sure to check back here then!

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