What’s Next for Alexander Payne?

If it seems like a long time since you’ve heard from Payne–Sideways did come out seven years ago–that’s because he’s been busy producing films as well as HBO’s “Hung” in recent years. It’s also because the movie he was working on with fellow Sideways Oscar-winning co-writer Jim Taylor, Downsizing, which would have reunited him with both Reese Witherspoon and Paul Giamatti, was backburnered a few years back to do The Descendants. “That’s comfortably aging in an oak cask, and we’re going to get back to it,” Payne told us during an exclusive interview, making a sly nod to their last film. “The Latin poet Horus used to recommend eight years is the perfect time for a poem to lie uncorrected before picking it up to correct it.

“It won’t take eight years, but in the meantime, I have my next two movies lined-up,” he continued. “April or May I’ll start shooting a father-son roadtrip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln (Nebraska) and I’m hoping to kick that one out pretty quickly, and after that, I’m going to do the adaptation of a Daniel Clowes (“Ghost World”) graphic novel, which he himself adapted. It’s a graphic novel called ‘Wilson’ about a misanthrope up in Oakland. It came out about a year before last. Look it up, it’s a good one.”

A movie about a misanthrope in Northern California certainly sounds like familiar Payne territory, doesn’t it? Those who read comics know that Clowes has been on the cutting edge of the independent comic scene since 1985, first with his comic series starring Lloyd Llewellyn, then with his irregularly-released “Eightball,” an anthology comics that has spawned award-winning graphic novels like “Ghost World” and “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.” Having already written Art School Confidential a few years back, Clowes has been involved with a number of screenplays that have been gestating in their own oak cask, but Payne told us the creators are exactly the same age and very like-minded, saying that Clowes is as “gifted a screenwriter as he is a graphic novelist.” High praise indeed considering who that compliment is coming from.

Noting that Payne’s planned next movie, currently titled Nebraska, continues his tradition for doing road movies, the last two being in picturesque vacation environments, Payne stated that the plan to make the movie in black and white in the Midwest should give it a very different look from The Descendants and Sideways, even if he’s using the same DP, Phedon Papamichael. “It’s going to have a much more austere visual sense,” he said. “It’s going to be in black and white and shot in the late spring in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, and I want it to have a certain stark visual. We’re probably going to shoot digital but it will be released on black and white film.”

Look for our full interview with Mr. Payne, talking more specifically about his upcoming movie The Descendants, before its limited release on November 18, as well as interviews with some of the cast.

(Photo Credit: Dominic Chan/ WENN.com)