What’s the best training for a director? Being an actor. Just ask Greta Gerwig.
In many of her interviews for Ladybird, Greta Gerwig has spoken about the insecurity that led up to her deciding to direct. She admits to never having gone to film school (hell yeah!), instead of calling on her ten-year career in front of the camera for guidance. But Gerwig’s career as an actor is more unusual than most: she didn’t come up from doing small bits in TV and features and then graduating to lead roles. She started out in “mumblecore” (a name given to the often dismissed film movement which many of its founders actually find patronizing). The movement has also found success in breeding other talents, such as Joe Swanberg, the Safdie Brothers, and Amy Seimetz, amongst others.
For mumblecore films such as Hannah Takes the Stairs and Nights and Weekends (which she co-directed), Gerwig also served as a writer. The rich, personal dialogue was mostly improvised and largely drawn from the actors’ and filmmakers’ lives, resulting in exciting performances that expand beyond the frame.
In the video below, The New Yorker film critic Richard Brody talks over clips from mumblecore director Mary Bronstein’s 2008 film Yeast. He talks about Gerwig, but also about mumblecore as a revolutionary movement in cinema, given that this often disregarded movement has successfully yielded the best of ultra-low-budget filmmaking in America. And to think what Gerwig accomplished with a multi-million dollar budget!