Alexander Payne believes reality is part of life, with films dominated by people caught up in extraordinary situations and grounded in bad humor. Ever since “The Passion of Martin,” a UCLA student thesis film, hit the headlines in 1990 and landed him a job in Universal, many have been anticipating to see his next film release.
The deal at Universal did not land him a studio film release but allowed Alexander Payne to establish a foundation of his future. In 1996, “Citizen Ruth” established Alexander’s trademark walk between farce and anguish. Other outputs like “Election,” “Sideway,” and “Descendant” earned him significant profits.
Manohla Dargis, one of the New York Times critics, identifies Payne as one of the most talented social comics in the movie industry after Preston Sturges. DGA Quarterly interviewed Alexander Payne, and he had the following to share.
Other directors expect your movies to have a certain sense of adulthood and humor grounded in reality
Payne notes that he was a youth in the seventies when movie characters were like normal individuals. Standards were based on how much cinemas approximated real life. He has always wanted to produce such movies, and his film productions aspire to have a sense of naturalism and realism.
How do you prepare your actors weeks before the shoot?
According to Alexander Payne, each film is different, and he believes in low-cost plans and shot on location. This means they do not have to budget for extra hotels and request their actors to come in advance. But they have at least a week of rehearsals before the initial shoot. During this time, they do not rehearse like a play. They read and go through each actor’s scene for three to four hours and take them to shoot locations to feel that they are in their home.
Another important thing they focus on during rehearsal is reading through the entire cast. It’s not like the script will change, but all stars need to meet before the shoot day.