Alix Madigan ’84 is a producer behind such independent films as Girl Most Likely, featuring Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening, and Winter’s Bone, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. Earlier this year, Madigan delivered the keynote address at the Sundance Film Festival. Her new film, Laggies starring Keira Knightley, will be shown at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on October 24, 2014.
1. Did any specific classes, or experiences at Dartmouth, help prepare you for your career?
When I first came to Dartmouth, I spent all this time at Fairbanks watching old movies. Dartmouth had an incredible film library and I was able to see all these great prints of American Noirs, works of Fellini and French new wave directors. The Film Society was such a great resource too and was programmed so well. I was able to watch a great variety of films while I was here, which really propelled the great love I have for film.
2. Your team cast a relatively unknown actor, Jennifer Lawrence, for the movie Winter’s Bone. Was there a moment when you had a sense she would become a star?
I think it was after the film's reception at the Sundance Film Festival. I had seen her performance through the editing process and knew she was astounding in the movie. Still, we didn't know how the movie would be received, if it would be embraced, and what would have to happen in order to get people to see her performance. The premiere at Sundance went really well, so many people saw the movie, and Jennifer received a great deal of attention. At the Festival, there was a tremendous amount of buzz about her because she just kind of burst onto the scene. Jennifer's success is so well deserved—she is really one of a kind.
3. During the keynote address at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, you said, “I love the job of making independent films too much to let it go.” What are the greatest challenges of your industry?
There are so many—it's not an easy business in any way, but it is still one I love. I would have to say securing the financing, which still looks for name value in cast despite so many examples of successful movies starring unknown actors, as well as then casting those actors which will get you the money you need to make your movie, remain the biggest challenges. Then, especially with so much quality television out there, getting audiences to a theater is becoming more and more difficult, especially when distributors are not able to spend much in advertising. For me, the positives still outweigh the negatives—at least for now.
Three Questions profiles alumni in pursuit of their passions.