Alexander Payne is widely respected for his brilliant storytelling and dramatic prowess. A remarkably rare filmmaker, he writes films that are grounded in reality, yet at the same time, have an absurdist and highly stylized look and feel. He has a way of expressing life’s central questions with compassion and humor.
Alexander Payne won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay with his comedy-drama The Descendants, and the Film Independent Spirit Award (Best First Screenplay) with his first dramatic feature, About Schmidt. Simply put, Payne took his experiences with young filmmakers as a tutor at the University of Nebraska and applied them to film making.
Here are the main principles: Alexander Payne came from a large family with many creative individuals. Since his parents were not film makers, he learned how to make films from artists in his life. Payne took a box cutter and cut up the camera until he had a scrapbook for his brother. Payne worked on the photography of a page and made an amazing “Cook Book” for his brother that included new creations, cute sayings and clever drawings.
Alexander Payne interviewed a diverse range of creative talent to generate his ideas for the film. He said, “Writing, as I’ve found, was the first sort of love.” He learned by listening to all the types of things that people had to say and not only listening but trying to get them into the way that he thought they were.
Payne talked about his journey, “I had no idea how we were going to get there. But you have to understand that, when you write a movie that is as honest as this film, it is very hard to know where it’s going to end up; there is no final destination.” “We were in pursuit of certain ideas that were just lying around, and we wrote them all down on index cards in what turned out to be, I guess, two-and-a-half years.” Film and television director Alexander Payne grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and later received a master’s degree in English literature from University of Nebraska at Omaha.