Payne’s new film brings Nebraska to the big screen


By Rosa Najera, Contributor


When Oscar-winning film director Alexander Payne came across a script and suggested it be made into a silent film, he said he was “laughed out of the office,” and that film became the Steven Spielberg directed film “Terminal.” 

However, nine years ago when Payne first read the script for “Nebraska” he said he envisioned the film in black and white. Fast forward years later and the production and costume design of the film were designed to fit that monochromatic direction, said Payne in a conference call on Nov. 12 about the Oscar-buzzed film “Nebraska.”

In the film, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) takes the road to Nebraska with his estranged son (Will Forte) to claim a million dollar prize sweepstakes that Woody is convinced he has won.

As for why the film took ninreyears to produce, the answer is simple. The Oscar-winning film director said he didn’t want to have two road trip movies back to back, “Sideways” and “Nebraska.” “As soon as I was done with ‘The Descendants’ film, I jumped on this thing [Nebraska].”

The Omaha native has filmed four out of his six films in his home state because no one else is, he said. 

“Somehow where you’re from has an amazing gravitational pull over your life. And I have found myself with that condition,” Payne said.

It took over a year and 20,000 miles on Payne’s car he said to scout for locations in Nebraska to fit the film. The film director said he was looking for small towns to be used together to create the mythical town of Hawthorne, Nebraska. 

The film was shot in four states in the Midwest, according to the film’s website. Some of it was filmed in Norfolk, Neb. and the surrounding small towns including Plainview, Neb.

It was Payne’s decision to shoot the film during the winter months of November and December, so that it could provide the scenery Payne wanted.

“I wanted leafless trees and stubbly cornfields.”

Payne said it also took him about a year to choose the cast of the film. 

“Unlike other directors, I rarely have actors concretely in mind when I start a movie.  I really, really rely on auditions.” 

The film director said he likes combining three groups of actors; the highly-seasoned professional, the non-professional actor and non-actors into his films, so by the end of the movie audiences can’t tell what actor belongs to what category; they all seem to be part of the same “tapestry.”

As for future productions, Payne said he loves silent films’ form, yet hasn’t gotten around to making one, but he’d love to do it. 

He said, “I’ve only made six [films] and I hope to make a lot more that will upset the average a little bit.”

Film Streams is now showing “Nebraska” with show times every day through most of December.