5 Things Filmmakers Can Learn From Greta Gerwig

“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.”

Brock Swinson
2 min readMar 25, 2024

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Photo Courtesy of Next Best Picture

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, writer, and director who gained widespread acclaim for her roles in Frances Ha and Lady Bird, the latter earning her Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Gerwig’s work is characterized by her unique blend of humor, honesty, and exploration of complex female narratives, solidifying her place as a significant voice in contemporary cinema.

Here are a few things filmmakers can learn from Greta Gerwig…

1.

Let the characters talk. “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.

Boredom can lead to creativity. “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.”

3.

Your script should be able to stand out by itself. “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.”

4.

Everything is intentional. “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.”

5.

Be relentless with your writing. “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.”

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Want more? All of these quotes help make up my first book about the craft of writing, Ink by the Barrel — Secrets From Prolific Writers. Get your copy for free, right here.

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