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Alan Ball

  • American director
  • Born May 13, 1957

Alan Erwin Ball (born May 13, 1957) is an American writer, director, and producer for television, film, and theater. He wrote the screenplay for American Beauty, for which he earned an Academy Award. He also created the series Six Feet Under and True Blood, works for which he earned an Emmy, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.


I certainly feel fortunate in my career to have been able to continue to work in different mediums. I don't ever want to be the guy who gets really good at one thing and just does that over and over and over again.




Life is infinitely complex, and I feel like we live in a culture that really seems to want to simplify it into sound bites and bromides, and that does not work.




I think sexuality is a window into someone's soul.




I need to feel like the work I'm doing is not necessarily important, but meaningful, at least to me, because otherwise it just becomes a day job. It just becomes factory work and I get really frustrated.




I guess in America we're so sold on this ideal of the perfect, well-adjusted family that is able to confront any conflict and, with true love and understanding, work things through. I'm sure they do exist, but I never knew any of them.




I don't really know what it is about vampires that makes them such a powerful symbol, metaphor, whatever in people's consciousness. But I do know they're tremendously powerful. I mean, there's a vampire on 'Sesame Street.' And Count Chocula. I don't know why it's so powerful.




Life is too mysterious to try to map it out. I've certainly lived long enough to know it will take you places you never thought it would take you - and some of those places are kind of wonderful.




Death is a companion for all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we're aware of it or not, and it's not necessarily a terrible thing.




I'm a huge freak, and always have been. I spent the first part of my life trying really desperately not to be one, and it was just a waste of time.




I am a little suspicious of industry paradigms. I feel like so many movies and TV shows feel so familiar because of over-reliance on these paradigms.




When I go home, the last thing I want to do is read about the popular lore of vampires.




The ego is kind of a big, unwieldy thing. It's not so easily tamed or subdued.




I'd seen 'Interview with A Vampire' and saw Dracula movies growing up, but I never thought, 'I love vampires; I have to do a show about vampires.'




I would say try to tell stories that you care about as opposed to stories that you think will sell.




I'm used to American actors who have a movie career thinking television acting is beneath them.




My own belief is that people can come back from anything. It doesn't mean that it won't come at a huge cost.




I always choose to look, as much as one can, at the supernatural not being something that exists outside of nature, but a deeper, fundamental heart of nature that perhaps humans... have lost touch with. It's a more primal thing than perhaps we are attuned to in our modern, self-aware way of life.




Ultimately, physical resemblance isn't as important as whether this person can bring this character to life in a way that's compelling and makes me care about what happens to them.




We live in a patriarchal culture. It's okay for women to be objectified but not for men.




We live in a time where there's an alienation factor. There's a certain disconnection. We don't have any real sense of community anymore.




I am so spoiled. I cannot watch a show where it gets interrupted for ads. I have to TiVo it and skip through the ads, because the culture of advertising is so false and phony that I just... ugh, you know?




I know a lot of shows are like, 'Here's the pages,' right before they start filming. I'd have a heart attack. The anxiety would be way too much for me. I don't have as strong a backbone as those other show writers.




And as I stumbled onto Eastern philosophy and Buddhism, it was the first time I had ever read any sort of philosophy that really made a tremendous amount of sense. What I liked that was missing from my experience of Christianity growing up was a sort of acceptance, a sort of being OK with being imperfect and not focusing on the sin.




I try to tell the best story, and the story that has some heart and some genuine terror and some social commentary and some comedy and some romance and some sex and some violence.




There is a fetishization of victimization in our culture. And I just am not interested in victimhood.




Death showed up in my life very early on, so I'm aware of it. If you look at most of the things I write there's a sort of contemplation of mortality - although 'True Blood' doesn't fall into that. Even though there's such a ridiculously high body count!




You know, I'm gay and I grew up being aware of that at a very early age, in a fairly repressed family.




I'm a Buddhist, so one of my biggest beliefs is, 'Everything changes, don't take it personally.'




I think the world is a place for oddballs and freaks. I'm only interested in oddballs and freaks as characters.




Racism is ridiculous no matter where it's coming from.




'True Blood' differs from 'Six Feet Under' in that there are way more characters and plot-lines, but fundamentally it's still about the characters and their emotions.




Most of us live in artificial environments and then we go to work in artificial environments and the world becomes something that you see through a window.




I think there's a lot of interesting stuff on TV. I feel much more optimistic about TV than I do about movies. There will always be good movies but I think, for the most part, it's always going to be a huge fight to get those movies made. TV is the best place to be as a writer, I think.




I think it's very difficult, and it requires a tremendous amount of spiritual integrity and discipline, to not be a narcissist in a culture that encourages it every step of the way.




It's hard for me to get interested in stories that ignore death, which is what American marketing culture would like to do: pretend that death doesn't exist, that you can buy immortality; just buy these products, and you'll be forever young and happy.




As a culture, we are not comfortable with mortality. We do not accept it the way other cultures do. We cling to youth, and we don't want to die. It's like, 'Well, too bad, we do.'



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