We caught up with comedy heroine Greta Gerwig to discuss her creative process and the inspiration behind the two time Oscar nominated Lady Bird, here's what she told Everyman exclusively ...
Q: For those who haven’t caught wind of the buzz around Lady Bird, could you briefly tell us what the film is about?
A: Lady Bird is a movie about a teenage girl named Christine Mcpherson who makes everyone in her life, including her family, call her by the name of Lady Bird, which is the name that she made up for herself. It’s about the last year that she’s living at home and is in high school, and it’s about her relationship with her friends and her school, and wanting to get away and move to New York. But it’s mostly about her relationship with her mother, and the love that’s there and also the conflict that’s there.
Q: What inspired you to make this film?
A: I started writing the script with the idea that I wanted to make something about home and how home is something that you only really understand as you’re leaving it, and that it’s impossible to completely love it and own that love while you’re there. And then I also knew I wanted to make a movie about a mother and a daughter. So, those were the two things I started with when I wrote the script, but then I let the script take over and tell me what it wanted to be. Then once I had the script, I decided to direct it because I have always wanted to direct. I felt at that moment that I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
“One person’s coming- of-age is another person’s letting go”
Q: In some ways Lady Bird is a classic coming-of-age story, though it’s been praised for its unique approach and refreshing female perspective. What do you think makes it stand out from the crowd?
A: I think the thing that I always tried to do when writing, and then again when I was making the film with the actors, was to keep coming back to what felt honest to me — not just the movie version of this story, but the honest version. I tried to do it emotionally and I also tried to do it in little pieces, allowing characters to not look perfect all the time. That if they had a little bit of bad skin, that was okay and they didn’t have perfectly quaffed hair all the time. Also, I think that one person’s coming-of-age is another person’s letting go. The adults in the movie are just as important and just as realised as the younger people. Every single character really has their own interior life — they’re in the middle of their own opera. I didn’t ever want it to seem like the adults were just placeholders for the story of the teenagers. They were also in the middle of their own story.
Q: You’ve shared writer/director duties before, but Lady Bird marks your first solo outing. What were the biggest challenges you faced during your directorial debut?
A: I think one thing that was very lucky about how I came to directing was that I never went to film school. All the time I’ve spent writing and co-writing, co-directing, producing, film-making, acting — I really used all that as my film school. I’ve been working in movies for 10 years, and I’ve tried to educate myself as much as I could about how a project goes from the writing stage all the way through to being released in theatres, which is a very long process. Something that I’ve benefited from was the fact that because I’ve been around it and I’ve seen it, I know that challenges are not an aberration — they are what film-making is! Almost every single day you face something that seems like it will derail the entire project, but I knew that going in. So when I faced things that seemed impossible to overcome, it didn’t make me feel like the whole thing was going to fall apart. I knew that was par for the course and that is what film making is — it’s just one problem after another. The challenges were inevitably going to be there, but I was lucky because I knew how to deal with them.