Posts Tagged ‘Lady Bird’

“I wanted to make something set in Sacramento, because I am from Sacramento and I love it. I had the idea of wanting to make a love story between a mother and a daughter, but the line I actually started with was the moment in college when someone says, ‘Where are you from?’ and she says, ‘Sacramento.’ And they [not understanding here] say, ‘Where were you from?’ and she says, ‘San Francisco.’ And that was actually the first thing I wrote for [Lady Bird]. And I almost had the sense of wanting to reverse engineer the movie from that moment. What if when she says that line the audience feels like ‘but I know all the people that you’re selling out”? And I know the details. And you sold it out to look 10% cooler to a person you just met at a party.”
Writer/Director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
The Director’s Cut podcast interview (Pe. 111) with Spike Jonze

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“I have a theatrical temperament…. I think it comes out of being a ‘daughter of the Golden West.’ A lot of the stories I was brought up on had to do with extreme actions-leaving everything behind, crossing the trackless wastes, and in those stories the people who stayed behind and had their settled ways-those people were not the people who got the prize. The prize was California.”
Joan Didion
NY Times/Staking Out California

Congrats to writer/director Greta Gerwig on he Best Director Oscar nomination this morning for her work on Lady Bird.  I don’t think Gerwig wrote the screenplay for Lady Bird in literally Sacramento (she’s based in New York these days), but Sacramento is where she emotionally wrote this movie.

And that’s central to what I’ve been trying to convey for the past decade on this blog.  A sense of place. That’s what I’ve tried to encourage. The same way Horton Foote wrote about the Texas he knew, and Tennessee Williams wrote about the South he knew.

After reading and listening to interviews with Gerwig there were many things that informed the look and feel of her story set an partially shot in Sacramento, California.

Besides growing up there there is the writing of Joan Didion (who also was raised in Sacramento), there was the John Huston film movie Fat City about two boxers heading in different direction in their lives (Which was shot in Stockton, CA), the paintings of William Eggleston, Greg Kondos, and Wayne Thiebaud (who once taught at Sacramento City College).

“I think California in general in terms of ghosts, it’s got some lost dreams. And the quality of lost dreams is different depending on what place your in. Los Angeles has a lot of lots dreams of a certain kind, but so does northern California, so San Francisco definitely. And Sacramento does, too. Sacramento is a place that came up because of the gold rush and later the dust bowl. There’s got to be a better life, and maybe I will strike it rich. Maybe I will be a gentleman farmer, or get gold. And I think these mythologies about places actually seep into how people think about themselves and their lives. And it’s an different kind of mythology that California has than say Connecticut has…. When we were working on figuring out how to shoot [Lady Bird] there was a whole discussion ‘Can you write it as a different city?’—just because of tax breaks. It would be cheaper to shoot it in Ohio, and I was like, ‘But I don’t know the mythology of Ohio the way that I know the mythology of California. This is a California story in its bones and if I shift it it’ll just feel arbitrary.’ And I feel like the more specific something can be the more universal it can be.”
Writer/Director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Crew Call 18/The Deadline Podcast

P.S. If you’re not familiar with Joan Didion’s work check out her collection of essays at We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, and the Netflix documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.

Scott W. Smith

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The way I write is to allow myself to do things kind of unconsciously, and then I try to craft them after I’ve done it unconsciously. I have the distinct experience of tapping into something where I can just write, and write, and write, and it doesn’t feel like I’m doing the choosing of the words. I’m sure everyone who writes at some point feels like that. And then I come back to it later and it’s almost a sense of I don’t know who wrote this. And now I have to make it into something that has form. There’s an odd disconnect with it because in a way it’s like you found something that someone’s left. There are moments where once I start structuring those things and making them have more form then I have to move it from A to B and I do have some teeth pulling moments of getting the story down. But for the most part it comes down like that.

“So in some ways I have this strange experience with a script of knowing that it works on the page but also I have a certain amount of mystery to what I’m saying and how these characters function. And when I have great actors they give me amore understanding of what it is I’ve written. And that informs how I’m going to direct it.”
Writer/director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Marc Maron Podcast interview

Related post: Where Do Ideas Come From?

Scott W. Smith

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Here’s a quote from back in 2013—a few years before Greta Gerwig made her directorial debut with Lady Bird. (A film that just won Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.)

“[Directing] was never something I realized I could do for a long time, and I don’t know why exactly, but I just never thought that I would be able to or that I’d never be any good at it, and I think I no longer believe that. …To be honest it’s a lame excuse, but it just seems very male, and it seems like it was just something that men said they wanted to do in college. I didn’t really know any women who said they wanted to do it. It wasn’t until really being out in the world and meeting filmmakers like Lynn Shelton and Lena Dunham and Liz Meriwether, who’s a writer, and Diablo Cody, and there’s so many of them that I didn’t know them. And it wasn’t until meeting them that I think, in my 20s, that I had built up a reserve of confidence and a feeling like it’s not just a boy’s club.”
Greta Gerwig
Miami NewTimes interview with

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Lena Dunham, Sundance, & Iowa
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)

Scott W. Smith

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