Alexander Payne is a Greek/American film director, writer, and producer from Omaha, Nebraska; his screenplay style is a mix of actual life plots, often with a hint of dark humor and a quirky side dish. He is obsessed with his native state of Nebraska and is known to set many of his films around the state.
A descendant of Greek immigrants, Alexander Payne, has known Omaha to be his home ever since his great grandfather moved from Boston after immigrating to America. He spent most of his academic life in Omaha and only left when he joined Stanford University; later on, he went to film school at the University of California, Los Angeles, to pursue a master’s in Fine Arts.
His first film was a 1996 production called Citizen Ruth; the theme for the movie revolved around the sensitive topic of reproductive health rights and the national discussion around abortion. Keeping to his romanticized relationship with Nebraska, he shot the film in various locations around the state.
Next on his lineup was a 1999 film about high school elections appropriately called Election; the film casted some A-list actors, namely Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. He also shot this film in locations around Nebraska.
When questioned about the repeated setting of his films in his home state, Alexander Payne is noted as being proudly fond of the fact that he desired to shoot movies in Nebraska for a long time. He even mentions other famous artists he looks up to that returned to their roots to continue making their works after achieving great success.
In 2002, Alexander Payne, alongside Jack Nicholson, another A-list actor, released a film called About Schmidt. The film was not just shot in Nebraska like the rest; this time, he went as far as to incorporate the neighborhood he spent time in during his childhood in Dundee. Alexander Payne says that he always wanted to see Nebraska and its people in films, so he did not hesitate when the opportunity presented itself.