Greta Gerwig: The Inspiration for​ an Aspiring Filmmaker

I’ve written a lot about how much Lady Bird means to me–whether it be how it made me admit how much I love my hometown of Sacramento, California or how it accurately portrayed the mother-daughter dynamic–but what I love most about the film is that it came from one of the few filmmakers I look up to, Greta Gerwig. There are many filmmakers whose work I thoroughly enjoy and respect, like Steven Spielberg or J.J. Abrams, but there are only two who I am truly inspired by and Greta Gerwig is one of them.

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Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig on set of ‘Lady Bird’. © A24

At the beginning of my first year as a film student, I doubted that I had as much of a knack for film as I thought I did, so much that I stopped writing. Thankfully, those doubts and worries absolved when I saw Lady Bird for the first time. Last October, I was fortunate enough to see Gerwig’s directorial debut at the New York Film Festival, and it was the most magically movie-going experience I’ve ever had. At the end of the film, they put a spotlight on Gerwig and the cast sitting in the balcony and tears rapidly came to my eyes, despite all of the crying I had already done throughout the entire movie. But, it wasn’t just because of the movie. It was Gerwig, herself. Gerwig made a film that’s like few before it–a movie that doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie. Lady Bird took my breath away, not only because of its stunning illustration of my hometown but for the vividly real depiction of being a teenage girl. Never before have I seen a film that felt so much like real life. Greta Gerwig did that!

Without a doubt, Gerwig being my inspiration is partly because we come from the same place, Sacramento and the all-girls, Catholic St. Francis High School. Most past and present St. Francis girls could tell you, Gerwig is basically our icon now. That commonality, though, makes her even more influential to the filmmaker I hope to become. It doesn’t feel as far-fetched or unrealistic. Seeing the phenomenal film and reading the script, I was reminded of why I wanted to make films. I want to make films that reflect the life I know. Films that incite conversations. Films that inflict a whirlwind of emotions. Gerwig’s directorial debut gave me a better sense of the films I wanted to see and the films I wanted to make, without realizing I was even searching for it. Before seeing Lady Bird, I never really considered directing as a path for myself. Since then, I’ve been able to utter the words I could barely admit to myself, let alone family and friends when they ask me what I want to do in film: I want to direct my own films. I can not only say that I want to direct my own films, but that I will direct. Greta Gerwig did that.

Gerwig inspires me with the pure joy and passion her work exudes. She inspires me because her debut film helped me stop putting limits on my goals. Greta Gerwig is my inspiration because she helped me write again.

Through my eyes,

Sydney

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