Alexander Payne is an American filmmaker, producer, and screenwriter. He has received three Academy Awards for his movies, including Best Director and Adapted Screenplay.
Alexander Payne was born in 1961 in Omaha, Nebraska, US. A graduate of Stanford University, he majored in history and literature. After working as a freelance writer, Payne made his directorial debut with the movie Citizen Ruth (1996). The film was about a single mother who became addicted to drugs.
In 2002, Payne wrote and directed About Schmidt, which had Jack Nicholson playing the lead role of Warren Schmidt, a retiree whose life is in turmoil after his wife dies. The movie won Payne the Golden Globe Award, Critics’ Choice Movie Award, and the Audience Award and Grand Prix of the Deauville Film Festival (France).
Payne followed that movie up with Sideways in 2004 – a critically acclaimed black comedy starring Paul Giamatti as a failed writer and Thomas Haden Church as a frustrated actor. The two desperate friends set out on a road trip to California’s wine country. They ponder their lives and drink wine along the way.
Since then, Alexander has become one of Hollywood’s most influential actors. He has served in numerous top-notch projects like Citizen Ruth, About Schmidt, Sideways, Inherent Vice, and many more.
Alexander Payne discusses five things he wishes he knew before becoming a filmmaker:
- Timing Is Everything
Alexander says arriving on time on a movie set is often more important than when the actual shooting begins. He says he has learned that timing makes the difference in getting what you need from a scene.
- Writing the Script Is an Important Step
Payne says that he started his career as a screenwriter. His experience of writing a script taught him to translate what’s in his head onto paper and work through the different aspects of the story, characters, and plot.
- Don’t Let Finances Affect Filming
Payne says that one should put down his feet over finances. You can get a limited budget and make the best movie. He firmly believes that good representations are made even when you do not have a large budget to work with.
- Resist the urge to reconsider
Payne says that the actor should resist the urge to reconsider the choices that he has made during production. He says that an actor will often find himself stuck in a scene. He cautions the actor to go with his first instinct, even when the director and everyone else on set is not convinced about the approach.
- Listen and Respect Everyone on Set.
Payne says that filmmakers must listen to the actors and all others on set. He says that a filmmaker must trust in the talent of his actors and crew. He says there is always something new to learn, whether in front of a camera or behind it.