Alexander Payne’s Success as a Filmmaker and as a Man
During his 25 years of film making, two-time academy award winner, Alexander Payne has seen many changes in the industry. Film-making is still complex, but he finds it enjoyable work. He looks up to the works of Spike Lee and Woody Allen, both productive film makers of comedic feature films.
For him, the hardest part of the process is screenwriting.
Before the writing, he must find a plot and character that fit his style. That takes time. He must believe in it before development and finding financing. He works with his friend and partner Jim Taylor co-writing the script over a six month period. They sit in a room together, talk over each idea and then add their work to the computer, both seated at a keyboard on the same Mac.
Their aim ia making a film of realistic situations using damaged people like most humans in situations that the audience can recognize with humor. He likes to work with people who have proven enjoyable and capable. He wrote the movie The Holdovers for Paul Giamatti as they worked together as friends. Mr. Payne is known for his equal treatment of all workers. He believes extras are important to show the diversity of human relationships. His films must show humanity as real.
He believes many movies are too long these days and a script should economize on pages. They should be about 98 pages and read easily. Too many details bind the flow. He is careful to erase details that the audience does not need to know. If the script is any longer, the audience may get bored.
Mr. Payne says finances should not change the work and not to allow the financiers to coerce your idea of the work.
He of his routines is to nap for about thirty minutes, which makes him sharp for the rest of the day’s shoot.
When he has time to watch movies, he likes any good film but is partial to westerns. He prefers older movies from the silent era through the 70’s and Japanese films. So far, he has directed and co-written eight films.
Alexander Payne’s grandparents were Greek and he recently became a Greek citizen. He likes to film in Nebraska where he grew up.