Not many people can claim to make films that people watch. Even fewer can claim that those are the films they wanted to make. Alexander Payne is one of the few who can claim both of these. When it comes to his success in the film industry, he often attributes it to a few different factors that he has used over his career.
One of the primary things that have given him his edge is the honesty he chooses to tell his stories. He has often said that he does not like commercial film projects and would prefer to tell stories about people. He also likes to add a personal touch by setting the film in the Midwest, originally.
His films highlight this effort to focus on the person because of the deal with people being people. This often means a deeper exploration of what people do in certain situations and how they act. This is a staple for all of his films and is one of the main selling points that draw people in.
Alexander Payne is also known for his love of repeatedly working with the same people. This is twofold to his films. He is already aware of the actor’s strengths and weaknesses and knows exactly what they can play in his film. This previous relationship also allows him to better work with the performers to bring out the real emotion, so it is plain to viewers. He enjoys working with notable actor Paul Giamatti, who starred in his film “Sideways” and star in “The Holdovers.”
This working relationship does not just apply to the performers for his films, though, whenever possible, he also attempts to use the same behind-the-scenes cast. Their experiences in other films help to create a cohesive work environment. He also prefers to cast any extras in his films that are already in the profession they are portraying. Such as when he needs a taxi driver in a film, he might hire an actual driver to fill the part.
This helps contribute to the authenticity of his films and shows why they are so positively received.