More Alexander Payne Book News: WE MADE INDIEWIRE!!!
WE MADE INDIEWIRE!!!
The Web’s leading site for independent film is running an exclusive feature this week on my Alexander Payne book, including an excerpt. This is our first national coverage. It coincides with the book becoming available, today, on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and for Kindle and other e-readers.
NOVEMBER 12, 2012 12:55 PM
Read: Exclusive Excerpt From ‘Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film,’ A Book That Goes Behind-the-Scenes With the Oscar-Winning Auteur
The collection will be available November 13 from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, as well as for Kindle and other e-reader devices. Go HERE for more info.
I first met Payne in the fall of ‘97, and my first story about him appeared at the start of ‘98. Though I have covered many other filmmakers and film projects since then, my body of Payne work remains unique for its duration, scope, and depth. Early on, I recognized in him an important cinema figure and the fruits of my cultivating that relationship are the stories that comprise this book.
I also saw in Payne an opportunity to write about one of the most significant Nebraskans in film to come along in a while. Many from the state have made major contributions to the film industry either by the prominence or quality or volume of their work….I have interviewed several of the contemporary figures…Payne is the preeminent filmmaker among them all…
Some of the fondest memories I retain from my professional life are the lively, engaging, one-on-one sessions I enjoy with Payne. They are as much conversations and explorations between two film guys as they are interviews between subject and journalist.
Payne, as you would expect, is a superb interview. Highly literate. Thoughtful. Composed. He is rarely less than frank. He can be both profane and flat out funny. He is only politically correct and circumspect when it serves a project. He generally knows what you are looking for but does not necessarily hand it to you on a silver platter, which is to say he will only give as good as he gets. He does so much press now that he does sometimes repeat quotable nuggets or tag lines from interview to interview. The strategic part of him has shown more as his career has exploded. Who can blame him?
Oh, I have my scripted questions at the ready all right, because I always feel I have to be extra prepared, not to mention be on my mental toes with him, certainly more than with most subjects. He is so damned smart that it can be a bit intimidating even now, 15 years into our relationship. I make sure to do my homework when possible. But I am also comfortable enough to go off script and wing it on occasion and to let him take these interludes wherever he wants to go with them. The best material often comes from these asides or addenda anyway, and so I am not about to curtail his digressions or flights of fancy. Or my own for that matter.
In preparing this book I was reminded of the rather comprehensive Payne archive I have been able to compile as a result of doing so many interviews with him over a decade and a half period that roughly covers his entire feature filmmaking career. It is an archive that no other journalist or author has been in a position to acquire. This body of work has accrued because I have persisted in covering him and cultivating our relationship and because he has responded by consistently granting me great access. The often exclusive interviews and unfettered access continue…
Some who know about my long-tenured coverage of Payne assume that he and I are friends or buddies. Not exactly. I mean, we are certainly friendly with each other. But we do not hang out together. Ours is definitely a closer relationship than most journalists have with a subject, but it is by no means a rare or unprecedented one. We never speak about it, but my sense is that he and I feel the same in that while it is fine we have this thing together, we do not push it so far that it compels him to meddle in my work or tempts me to compromise my journalistic integrity.
In other words, we do not cross certain lines. That includes not probing too deeply into our personal lives. I only rarely mention his life away from film in my stories. He has no financial stake in or editorial control over this book. He never interferes with what I write, just as I never think about censoring my work to please him. We both want it this way. It’s the right thing to do and it avoids weird conflicts of interest.
Because I am in the unique position of having covered him for so long and in such an in-depth manner, this book uses the interviews and stories I have done to chart the arc of his filmmaking career.
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Author-journalist-blogger Leo Adam Biga resides in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. He writes newspaper-magazine stories about people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions. He's the author of the books "Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film – A Reporter's Perspective 1998-2012," a compilation of his journalism about the acclaimed filmmaker, and "Open Wide" a biograpy of Mark Manhart. Biga co-edited "Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores." His popular blog, leoadambiga.wordpress.com, is an online gallery of his work.
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