Canyon Echoes

Greta Gerwig: A Profile

Keana Saberi, Reporter

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Born and raised in the cityscape of Sacramento, California, Greta Gerwig was from the start immersed in theatrics and acting. Though she loved acting and the world of theater, she never even considered being a director until her freshman year at Barnard College. She didn’t seem to think it possible to be a female director or not a feat she could reach; she only knew a few big female directors who had made the cut. She dismissed her sudden aspiration and focused her attention on acting, performing in her plays and even being a part-time stage manager in between her classes in the summertime. She acted in small parts in some films during her school education and even went on to co-produce Nights and Weekends with Joe Swanberg.

At the end of her senior year, she attended the South By Southwest Festival where she soon became inspired by a film directed by a woman around her age. She was astonished and exhilarated and she later stated her true awe that was reported in a Time interview. “I thought, Wait, are we allowed to do that? Who told you could?” And then she realized: “Nobody told her. She was just gonna do it like the guys were doing it.” There she took off. Inspired and driven, along with the aid of other female directors, she put pen to paper and began writing. Though she didn’t officially attend a film school, her years of effort proved more than any other already established directors. She worked behind movie scenes, working late hours, perfecting the production design, or adjusting the lighting.  She worked part time as a nanny or taking an odd job or such to make ends meet. She continued on to direct small production films but she truly struck her award-winning idea for Lady Bird in 2015. Her original manuscript at one time reached up to 350 pages– an astounding amount considering the average for a film is about 110 to 120 pages. She wrote a truly breathtaking story of a real mother-daughter relationship, one that didn’t need big editing effects or explosions to resonate with the viewer. She knew the story was important, it was a coming of age and one that centralized a strong and raw female protagonist and her loving but at times strict mother.  

 The story is realistic, not a glamorous Hollywood plot, but rather a work that mimics reality. While trying to get her movie in the works, she faced setbacks. Her primary funders for the film, who were mostly men,  men who didn’t seem to get the mother-daughter duo that Gerwig had created. They didn’t see the life in her work when it was undoubtedly on display. The film’s attention was not to be flashy and worked, but to capture the actors in plain and to bring out their meaningful conversations. Gerwig knows that in the Hollywood industry women are not only underappreciated, they are sidelined, demoted, and the second rate. She does not wish for this to occur but to rather quote on quote “ We need empire builders, and we need some of them to be Latinas, to be black women, to be Asian women. We need all kinds of people in the mix to make for a vibrant culture that survives.” Her story is true, inspired by her upbringing, by not one restrained to just that. Her film was nominated for five Oscars this past year and this marked her as the fifth women to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar–ever.  She is only 34– especially young for a director of her capability and reach.

She not only created a strong work environment on the Lady Bird set but a warm place that lead to connections between the cast and crew. Those who know her or even have only just met her see her calm, funny, and kind nature that is steadfast and intelligent yet quick humored and clumsy.

From a young age she radiated in confidence and though she faced trials and tribulations, she is and continues to be a model example for young girls and women who want but are too afraid to make their dreams into a reality. 

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