Already one of the key, iconic actresses of the American indie scene, appearing in the likes of FRANCES HA, MISTRESS AMERICA and 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, Greta Gerwig made her solo directing debut with LADY BIRD, a warm and moving story of a mother-daughter relationship in 2002 Sacramento. It was nominated for several Oscars, including two for Gerwig herself (Best Original Screenplay and Best Directing).

Here are 15 of the best Greta Gerwig quotes for writers and directors…

15 Greta Gerwig Quotes for Writers and Directors

  1. “I try to get into a state where I’m allowing the characters to talk to me and talk to each other, because in the beginning of the writing process, I don’t know who they are yet. And this is the most pleasurable part of writing. They’ll often say things I had no idea they were going to say, and so much of the plot is built off of me consciously going through the dialogue that’s jumping out at me.”

  2. “[On dialogue] I like language that sounds quotidian but poetic. That quality of stumbling into beauty and then it’s gone.”

  3. “[On calling LADY BIRD autobiographical] Even though it isn’t literally autobiographical, there’s a core of emotional truth that’s very resonant. You could be offended by or you could think, ‘Well, then I’ve done my job. You’ve believed it. You think that’s me.’”

  4. “One thing I learned from my experience writing scripts with Noah Baumbach for two movies, is that he’s relentless about trying to get it right on the page, because you only answer to yourself during that period of time, so you can really make it as perfect as possible. I don’t do any improvisation, and I don’t change anything once I’m on set.”

  5. “Boredom is, I think, pretty useful [for creativity]. You get to a point where you start making up a game for yourself or you’ll start imagining things. But I worry that we’ve lost that capacity, which I think maybe erodes some creativity as well.”

  6. “[On directing] It’s a reverse magic show. It’s so much time, and weight, and money, and people, and you’re taking all this stuff and you’re reducing it to flickering light, making it disappear into a dream. That feels satisfyingly strange.”

  7. “The advice I would give to any director is that you should act. A lot of directors spend a lot of time getting very good at technical things and imagining things visually, but they’ve never really learned how to direct a scene… It doesn’t matter how good a shot looks, the lifeblood, the thing that people will connect to, is these people.”
  8. “I wanted the script to stand alone as a piece of writing… Instead of over-explaining what it was, if I wanted a person to be in it, I would just give them the script and they would read it and hopefully have an experience that is as close to watching the movie as possible. I want the writing to be the thing that sells the script.”

  9. “I have a deep need to take care of my characters. It’s not that I don’t want to go down the dark avenues — I want to hold their hands down the dark avenues.” 

  10. “[On working with actors] I try to do rehearsals and have as much hangout time as I can. It breaks the ice and allows everybody to get to know each other, and I can watch everyone interact, which helps a lot. But still, you’re always a little nervous to give a great person a note. But the thing is, they’re great at taking notes. That’s why they’re great. They want you to direct them. They want a director.”

  11. “The goal is that everything in a movie has meaning. Nothing is just there because it’s there. We wanted every image to have integrity, so that it didn’t feel adorned, but that it felt placed.”

  12. “[On giving crew name tags] Actors are often brought in when a scene is already lit and ready to go, and they don’t have as much time to get to know everyone. To just be able look over at someone, like the key grip, and say, ‘Hey Jerry, do you mind moving this thing?’ — you can say his name and not ‘Hey you!’”

  13. “[On banning phones from set] It’s quite depressing for an actor to be doing an emotional scene and look over and see someone checking Instagram. It’s a real bummer.” 

  14. “I think my love of cinema has to do with the finite nature of it. It’s a sad feeling, but it’s a wonderful feeling. It was this flickering light and sound, and then it’s gone.”

  15. Agnès Varda has this quote, ‘In cinema, anything is possible.’ I would like to figure out how to make movies on larger canvases and still make ‘smaller movies’ at the same time.”


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15 Greta Gerwig Quotes for Writers and Filmmakers
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