Interview with Filmmaker David Maddox (ALTERNATIVE MATH)

ALTERNATIVE MATH was the winner of BEST FILM at the Dec. 2021 POLITICAL Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Alternative Math” came from the frustration of having a conversation with someone and not being able to agree on what the basic facts were anymore. When you get to the point that you can’t base arguments on simple, accepted truths, it’s impossible to have an intelligent discussion.

So that had been cooking around in my head for a while when Kellyanne Conway used the term “alternative facts.” And I thought, “That’s a great title.”

And I thought, “What’s the stupidest possible thing two people could be arguing about? How about ‘What’s 2+2?'”

Then the idea just kind of grew from that. Having alternative facts to something as simple as basic addition.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I think Kellyanne Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” at the end January 2017. So I quickly wrote the script with Malcolm Morrison over the next month or so. We shot it in March. And post production was done in. July.

So start to finish about 6 months. Which is way faster than normal for me. But I was concerned people were going to forget the phrase “alternative facts” (which of course turned out not to be true).

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

The title kind of does that perfectly. Combine alternative facts with math and you get “Alternative Math.”

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Probably finding the location. We had this great school in my neighborhood that was underutilized that I thought would be perfect. But getting them to approve shooting there was difficult. We had several alternative locations (get it?) in case it didn’t work out.

Finally we were 4 days from our shoot date, and the producer Liz Cardenas just told them that we needed to know a hard yes or no so we could make some decisions. And they agreed that afternoon.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s very cool to see how different people interpret the film. I think we kept it just vague enough that anyone can watch it and see how it applies across society.

Before I saw it with an audience, I wasn’t even sure if people would think it was funny. Because it is a pretty ridiculous idea: people arguing over the correct answer to 2+2.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

About 8th grade my stepdad got our first video camera. And I started messing around with it. And then realized, “Hey, you can tell stories with this thing! And people can enjoy watching them!”

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. I’ve probably seen at around 50 times. Pulling the rug out from under the audience is important in both comedies and thrillers. And this film has one of the best twists in cinema.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Showing things with an audience and seeing the comments viewers make is so much better than just getting an “accepted” or “declined” email (which we filmmakers interpret as “your film was great” or “your film sucks.”) I think this is what differentiates you from all other film festivals.

It might be fun to see some raw footage of the film actually screening, so we can gauge the audience reaction in real time. Although I get that this may be more useful for comedies than other genres.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Great.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love breakfast food. So if I could eat pancakes, sausage, and a good cup of coffee for every meal, I probably would.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m finishing up the post on another short that I co-wrote and directed with the DP of “Alternative Math.” It’s called “Baby Proof” and should be ready for release in a couple of months. So stay tuned!

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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