by writer/director Greta Gerwig
Lady Bird is my first solo outing as a writer/director, but it is also the culmination of ten years of doing every job in front of and behind the camera that I was allowed to do. I never went to film school, so everything I learned was on the job. Most directors only ever get to be on their own set, but I had the privilege of watching many great artists, from directors to cinematographers to actors to sound mixers to production designers. Cinema is, by nature, a deeply collaborative art form. It is the greatest thrill I’ve known to watch different people come together and bring their intelligence and their talents to spin the same dream, to tell the same story.
Lady Bird is a film about home and growing up, but one person’s coming of age is always another person’s letting go. I wanted this movie to be a tribute to both sides of that very complicated and very beautiful story. It is the mother’s movie as much as the daughter’s movie, a love letter to home as much as it is about leaving home behind. It is in this “both/and” world that the film lives, not in the “either/or.” I wanted to make something that gave audiences the pleasure of the classic story of emerging young-personhood, but also take them through the less explored terrain of what that always means for the people they are growing away from. It is the unseen I care about as much as the seen. The things our heroine doesn’t know and can’t know, the things we understand as adults that we can’t possibly know as teenagers.
What is on camera is only the visible part of what goes into making a film. When I go to the movies, I always stay until the end of the credits—all the names that scroll by, those are the people who, each in their own way, also made the movie. I truly believe that the spirit of every single person who worked on the film goes into the final product. Each individual contributed something irreplaceable and essential. The movie wouldn’t be the movie without them and what they added. Each person is a storyteller, constructing the film with light or sound or props or acting.
If Lady Bird feels loving and loved, it’s due to the people who made it. My creative team, cast and crew, down to each of the PAs, all understood the core of this highly universal and deeply specific story. It is a film that seeks to honor all sides of a family and of a hometown, and in writing this letter I wanted to express my appreciation and love for all sides of filmmaking. My job would have been impossible without the people who took the journey with me—if there was no one to share in my vision, there would be no way to realize it. I am so blessed with the group of people who found me and this film, and Lady Bird is what it is because of them.
The last step in cinematic collaboration is that of the audience, sitting in a darkened theatre, putting themselves in a place of vulnerability and trusting us to take them on a journey. My hope for this film is that it makes you laugh and cry, feel warm to the core of your being, more understood and less alone. I hope that it connects you back to your own life and hometown and family. I hope it makes you call your mother or daughter or son or father or friend.