"You’re primarily known as a director and you just won an oscar for screenwriting. How does it feel to win as a writer?"
The only thing you need to make a film is to not be afraid of anybody or anything. John Cassavetes said that. John was inspiring, but he was also direct. He knew that there was no time to be indecisive, or to worry about whether the decisions you’ve already made were right or wrong, good or bad. I think that for John, there was no such thing as a “mistake”—you can only move forward, you can never move backward, and you can profit from absolutely everything.
There’s a strong tendency right now toward formula. Like this is how a screenplay is written: By page 30 this has to happen, your Act Two goes to page 90…That’s just horse shit. I think a badly crafted, great idea for a new film with a ton of spelling mistakes is just 100 times better than a wellcrafted stale script.
For example, Scorsese talks not about three acts in a script, but rather five sequences. Or you watch Fellini films you watch “Nights of Cabiria” or “La Dolce Vita” or “8 1/2” and you get a sense not of a three act structure, but of episodes with on character going through all these episodes. Then you get to the end of the film and there’s a sudden realization or a moment that pulls a loose string suddenly taut through the whole movie you’ve been watching up until that point.
(We need) different mental models of what a film can be, and if you pay too much attention to these books, by Syd Field and Robert McKee and I don’t know who else, they’re only presenting one cultural paradigm, and that’s really, really dangerous to the act of creation and to our cinema, which needs new ideas and new blood now more than ever. Hollywood films have become a cesspool of formula and it’s up to us to try to change it. - Alexander Payne in 1999
I’m fascinated with that relation, which we all have, with our previous selves. We all have that, that’s all we have, our whole life—who you were as a kid, who you were at 20—the great thing about getting older is you can reference yourself. But I’m equally sure that if we really could meet ourselves, we’d be surprised. Because we’ve re-characterized ourselves so many times to fit our current needs: ‘Oh, I was an idiot then, but now I’m smart.’ Not giving yourself enough credit, or giving yourself too much. It’s a fascinating relationship.