Interview: Alex Bain on what she’s learned as the Prime Video Buff, streaming recommendations, and her goals moving forward

The last time Peter Gray spoke with Alex Bain, the Queensland-born film fan had secured the job of her (and, let’s face it, mostly everyone else’s) dreams; that of the Prime Video Buff.

Working under the Prime Video Australia banner, Bain was the voice of recommendation and reason as she took over their social media platform and put her cinematic suggestions to professional use.

Now, as her contract with the streaming giant comes to a close, Alex and Peter reunited for another chat about what she has planned for herself going forward, what has been her Prime Video highlights, and why exactly Channing Tatum was making her cry at 3am in the morning.

Has it been everything and more? Your socials have been insanely entertaining!

Aww, thank you.  It’s been nice because I’ve had time to do my own socials, but it’s definitely been everything and more.  I’m much busier than I ever thought I would be.  I was totally unprepared for it.  It’s such a fast moving industry, and there’s something new every day.  It feels like something I would put all my focus in anyway, so it’s been nice to do that on a work level.

You know, I want to know all the Angela Bassett goss (laughs), so I’m happy to take some notes about that.  But meeting people like yourself and the LADBible guys that I work with, that has probably been the most incredible part for me.  To work with other creatives, I haven’t had that chance since drama school, like twenty years ago.  Giving away my age (laughs), but it’s been great.  It’s been an awesome learning experience.

How far into the contract do you have left? Feels like you’ve got at least a month left…

Oh no, we only have a week!  I’ll be done in just over a week.  It went so fast.  I feel like I’ll look back on this three months as a joyful blur.

Having done this job as the Buff, are you looking at staying in this industry and moving forward in a professional capacity somehow?

Oh, I hope so.  As I was telling you a few months ago, which felt like yesterday, I was in admin before this, and I would love to work in this industry.  I don’t know what I want to do, but I am open to any possibility.  I’m in a very grateful position for the first time in my life where I have the means to find something.  I’m able to put some time into keeping my ear to the ground and seeing what’s available.  Yeah, I’m very open.  I’ve just learnt so much.  And not that I necessarily want to become an interviewer, but I have taken a great interest in the interviewing style.  I think I have said to you how I love how you frame questions.

At the premiere of The Test I had someone say to me that it was great I had such a rapport with people, but I was also told that you don’t have to put everything you have into a question or into content.  It’s just about making them feel comfortable so they will talk more.  I’m just trying to learn all that I can.  Even if it’s not face-fronting material, I’d love to do something where I’m making content about movies and talking to people about movies.  I’ll see where it goes.

But what I found in making TikToks and Insta-videos, and I’m sure this is something you know as well, you have to leave your ego at the door.  It’s like you’re putting creativity on a time limit.  I was worried it was going to be a dry well when you do something that you love, but it just ends up being a chore.  It hasn’t been like that at all.  Sometimes the best cut, or the better review, is the one you have to let go.  You don’t have to look cute in every video (laughs).  What I care about more is getting the message across.  In some ways I’ve been able to hide behind the “Buff” mask.  I comment on people’s video on Instagram or Facebook, and that’s been really special to be able to interact with fans and ask them what they have seen.

On the mention of interaction, out of everything you’ve watched – and that’s if you’re able to narrow it down – has there been any title that you would recommend the most? Something that you got so behind that everybody needs to watch…

Well, let me just look at my notes.  Going off what we spoke about last time I know that we are both fans of a stylish, contemporary horror movie.  I was quite surprised that the latest Candyman didn’t come up for me on my algorithm.  Jordan Peele co-produced it, and I’m such a fan of his, so that was a really fun, stylish thriller.  I wish more people watched Candyman ’21.  It’s got the original (actor) in it (Tony Todd), it’s true to the original themes of racism and poverty… it was just really cleverly done.  I just don’t know why more people don’t know about it.

It was like with The Northman.  When that dropped on Prime I was so excited to tell people about it.  Some people went into that movie not knowing what it was going to be.  Yes, you got action and Alexander Skarsgård, but there was so much more to it.  You never know what’s going to hit with some people (but) there might be that one person watching a video or in a thread that thinks, “Hey, that’s my kind of movie.”

Another thing, and this is probably shameful to admit how I initially got into it, is the show Hunters.  Al Pacino is my mum’s favourite actor, and I just had so many things to watch, and I also always find myself going back to my favourites, but she was raving about it.  I watched (the first season) and became obsessed.  The whole cast is just incredible.  It’s like watching Tarantino at his best, or something.  It went in a whole different direction than I expected.  Logan Lerman has just grown so much as an actor.  Pacino is just brilliant.  And then Jennifer Jason Leigh pops up in season 2.  I think she’s one of the best working actors today.  She’s up there with Viola (Davis) for me.  But it’s such a beautiful watch.

And it’s been suggested to me, I’ll say suggested and not forced (laughs), to watch more animation.  I’m not an animation fan at all.  I tap out at Disney classics, but I am loving Invincible and (The Legend of) Vox Machina.  I’d almost just recommend it to people off the voice acting alone.  J.K. Simmons is in Invincible, and Steven Yeun and Sandra Oh, just this incredible cast.

And regardless of where you go from here, do you feel you have an allegiance to Prime over the other streaming services?

Oh, absolutely.  There’s a handful of things that I will watch outside of Prime, but I do love when I find something I love (and) it’s on Prime.  It takes me back to when I was a kid and you had only a handful of analog channels to choose from (laughs).  I found myself crying the other day to a really lame Channing Tatum romance at like 3am in the morning…

Was it The Vow?

(Laughs) Yes! You got me in one!  I started it, and I was initially not buying him as the lead in this romance, and then about halfway through – and maybe it’s because Rachel McAdams has chemistry with everyone – but (feigning tears) it was really beautiful (laughs).  But I’ve gotten really into Modern Love lately, and as someone who reads The New York Times it has that real love story vibe about it.  Four hours later and I’ve binged a few seasons (laughs).  (Prime) has all these really beautiful pockets to find the types of movies that remind you of what you grew up watching.  These little indie movies and lower budgeted movies that we might not know about otherwise.

Our thanks to Alex Bain, Prime Video Australia and Eleven PR.  Photos courtesy of Warwick Gow.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.