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Posts Tagged ‘Wayne Thiebaud’

“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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