The film will be distributed by Paramount Pictures. Anna Musso, his long-time assistant and protege, wrote and directed the film, which shot in March 2014.The project was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign.Payne is on the short list of directors who have final cut rights for their films.In 2005, he became a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Directors Branch).Alexander Payne (born Constantine Alexander Payne; February 10, 1961) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer, known for the films Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), and Nebraska (2013).
His second film, Election, starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon, which takes aim at politics and education in America, attracted attention when New Yorker film critic David Denby named it the best film of 1999.
Payne's films often revolve around middle-aged or older men who reach a breaking point in their lives, enter into transformative existential crises, and then emerge in the end as changed people, for better or worse.
Some unexpected life experience forces the central male figure to "crack" and see the world in a new and surprising way.
A short time after getting his MFA from UCLA Film School—and after his successful thesis film, The Passion of Martin had attracted industry attention—Payne got a writing/directing deal with Universal Pictures.
The ensuing screenplay, which was turned down, would ultimately become About Schmidt.