Greta Gerwig on Frances Ha and the Film Industry: VICE Podcast 007

Greta Gerwig on Frances Ha and the Film Industry: VICE Podcast 007

Eddie Moretti. Welcome to the vice podcast. My guest today is Greta Gerwig. Hi. GRETA GERWIG: Hi. EDDIE MORETTI: Welcome. So I want to talk first about
Francis Ha and how it’s doing. And critically, it’s been
acclaimed across the board. I don’t think I’ve ever read
a bad review of the film. I loved it. That’s a huge plus. But how’s the film doing as
a film, commercially? And how many screens are you,
on and all that good stuff? GRETA GERWIG: Well, it’s
actually doing really well commercially on its terms. I mean, it opened in four
theaters its first weekend. And then it expanded to
81 its second weekend. And then this weekend,
it’s expanding to 121 theaters, or something. EDDIE MORETTI: There’s no
stopping this film. GRETA GERWIG: It’s the
exponential growth. But it’s doing really well. People are really
going to see it. And I think one of the things
that we didn’t totally know is do people still go to
the movie theaters? And apparently they do. EDDIE MORETTI: Apparently
they do. GRETA GERWIG: So
it’s exciting. I mean, knock wood. I mean, it’s still going. But I think all signs
point to yes. EDDIE MORETTI: And so it opened
initially just here in New York, or New York and LA? GRETA GERWIG: New York and LA. EDDIE MORETTI: Did you notice–
because you went to both premieres probably– different reactions
in each town? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. We’ve done it in New York, LA,
between different festivals, too, in Telluride, Colorado and
in Toronto and in Berlin. And we talked to– EDDIE MORETTI: Oh, cool. Interesting. GRETA GERWIG: Paris press. I mean, luckily everybody
seems to like it. But they focus on really
different things. EDDIE MORETTI: And that’s
the interesting part. What are they focusing on,
let’s say, in Europe? GRETA GERWIG: In Europe, they
feel it’s a film about class. EDDIE MORETTI: Wow. I never would have got that. GRETA GERWIG: And every single
journalist brought it up. They were like, it’s
about class. EDDIE MORETTI: In what way? GRETA GERWIG: She feels that
there’s this sort of subtle distinction between who has
money and who doesn’t, and how that changes what you can do. And she’s not destitute. But she’s not where her
roommate– and it’s sort of like these subtle
distinctions. Anyway, they’re all obsessed
with that. EDDIE MORETTI: I’m going to
do this a lot, because that’s what I do. I just jump in and interview. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, please. EDDIE MORETTI: I will fuck
up your flow completely. GRETA GERWIG: No, I
don’t have a flow. EDDIE MORETTI: But that’s
interesting. So do they think Sophie
is marrying Patch just for the money? GRETA GERWIG: No, they don’t
think she’s marrying him just for the money. But they do talk about that
difference, that jump. It’s not about a judgment on the
character as much as it is that this is actually functional
in this world. And it’s between
this and this. It’s not a huge spread,
but it’s enough. EDDIE MORETTI: How do
you feel about that? Because it’s in the film. First, Sophie’s going to go to
Tribeca, which is like whoa. GRETA GERWIG: Because
she can afford it. EDDIE MORETTI: Which
is where Frances would like to go, maybe. GRETA GERWIG: But can’t. EDDIE MORETTI: But can’t. And then there’s people that
have flats in Paris. And oh, wouldn’t it be– I’m just going to go and
hang out and kind of mimic this lifestyle. So how do you feel about that? There is that. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. I mean, it’s deliberately
in there. It’s something we were
deliberately doing, of trying to find a way. Because I think sometimes the
financial circumstances in movies can be a little like
they’re background noise. But they’re not functional
in a plot. And we wanted like a whole–
like when she gets a tax rebate, that that like sets off
a whole chain of events. That actually means something
in her life. But yeah, we did talk
about it a lot. EDDIE MORETTI: It’s hard often
to actually put dollars and cents on money issues in
a film, because it gets dated so quickly. GRETA GERWIG: It’s true. EDDIE MORETTI: Like in “Annie
Hall,” when Woody Allen is like they’re charging
you $400 a month? It’s so cute now. But it’s interesting because
that moment when Frances gets the treasury check for her
return, it doesn’t come out all the way, does it? GRETA GERWIG: Well, part of the
not coming out all the way without giving too much,
we didn’t want to see her whole name. EDDIE MORETTI: Smart. GRETA GERWIG: So it
was that, too. But yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: So it’s class,
to the Europeans. It’s interesting. GRETA GERWIG: They’re just more
engaged with that part of it, and ambition and
how that mixes. But yeah, they’re much
more attuned to that. EDDIE MORETTI: Attuned to that,
but loving the film regardless. GRETA GERWIG: And then, I
would say LA, a lot more parents in LA of kids who moved
to New York that came up to me like crying after
screenings. And they were like, our daughter
is in New York. And this movie makes me
know she’s not having sex, and she’s OK. I’m like, well, I don’t know
what your daughter’s doing. EDDIE MORETTI: She probably
is having sex. GRETA GERWIG: But I feel like
parents in LA are particularly moved by it, because I think
it’s that thing they identify. Same with San Francisco. That was also true
of San Francisco. I feel like I’ve traveled
with this woman, talked to so many people. And I feel like a small
town politician. EDDIE MORETTI: Why? GRETA GERWIG: Like at the 11th
hour, when they’re out on the street shaking hands
with cars. I’m basically thinking of John
Travolta in “Primary Colors,” when he’s out at the
last minute. Anyway, that’s how I feel with
the film when I’m doing a lot of shaking hands and
kissing babies. EDDIE MORETTI: And what did they
say in Toronto, just out of curiosity, because
that’s my hometown? GRETA GERWIG: Toronto was
actually kind of hard to gauge the reaction, because it was
during the film festival. So I felt less like– EDDIE MORETTI: Too much noise. GRETA GERWIG: –the
people of Toronto. And it felt more like the– EDDIE MORETTI: The industry,
right, right. GRETA GERWIG: –people
for the festival. But we’re actually going to go
back to Toronto in a week and do a thing there for it. EDDIE MORETTI: Oh cool. At the festival? GRETA GERWIG: No. It’s going to open in Toronto. EDDIE MORETTI: Oh, cool. GRETA GERWIG: And we’re
going to go be there for the opening. So I’ll know what
people think. EDDIE MORETTI: It’s
a great film town. I can’t imagine it’s not going
to go great up there. GRETA GERWIG: I’ve been to
Toronto other types for film stuff outside of the festival. And it seems vibrant. EDDIE MORETTI: It’s
a great community. And just one more second
on city reactions, the New York premiere. How special was that
that night? I was there. I didn’t know you at that
time, or I would have come and say hello. But describe that night. It must have been special. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah,
it was amazing. We’d shown the film. And we knew it was playing well,
which was gratifying. But you don’t watch it every
single time, because it would get boring. But we were like, we’re
going to watch the New York premiere. And it was like, if we could
have written audience reactions to what we wanted them
to be reacting like while we were writing the film,
it was perfect. They laughed at all
the right spots. And the size laugh
was perfect. You know, puns get a slight
chuckle, like a nod. It was just amazing. It wasn’t like a full
standing ovation. But it was a half. EDDIE MORETTI: I noticed that. And I felt like everyone
should have stood up. I really felt like– GRETA GERWIG: No, but
it was great. EDDIE MORETTI: But they
wanted to, though. I felt like they
were doing it. GRETA GERWIG: I feel like it
was my version of what I imagined having a triumph
feels like. It was, for me, the farthest I
can get is a half standing ovation in my head. EDDIE MORETTI: Right. That’s in a way more
appropriate, maybe. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: And it had to
have been in your mind and in Noah’s mind, as you’re making
this film, because it’s about New York in so many different
ways, that that night was going to be special. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. Even when we were deciding what
film festivals to take the movie to, because we go to
New York for the festival. I go to New York for
the festival. And I love it. And there was some feeling
of do we hold the film for Sundance? Is that a better market
to sell it in? Does it make more sense? Is it smarter? And then we were like, we really
just want to go to New York Film Festival. And let’s go to Telluride
and try. Let’s do the fall festivals,
even though it doesn’t actually make sense from
a sales perspective. EDDIE MORETTI: But
culturally– GRETA GERWIG: Let’s
just do it. EDDIE MORETTI: It’s the endpoint
of that story that you guys were on. GRETA GERWIG: And it felt like
we did the movie the whole way through exactly how we
wanted to, and didn’t compromise at all. And it felt like well, why would
we release it in a way into the world that we were
suddenly becoming calculated about it? EDDIE MORETTI: Exactly. And it’s really important. Because the film makes me think
a lot about different moments in film history. But there was a time
when directors had a festival in mind. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, sure. EDDIE MORETTI: Where they were
like, I’m going to go with my new statement to
that festival. And Godard did it famously
at Cannes. GRETA GERWIG: Cannes, yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: But that’s
what this city means to you and to Noah. It’s very important. It’s a center of gravity. GRETA GERWIG: And for
Noah, New York Film Festival was what– when “Kicking and Screaming”
got into New York Film Festival, that basically
saved that movie from being straight to video. Because all of a sudden, it was
being noticed at this very fancy festival. And it really changed the course
of, I think, what he was capable of doing. So it was really cool. EDDIE MORETTI: So I’m going to
link that back to the first thing you said, which is that
you didn’t know if people still went out to cinemas. GRETA GERWIG: Oh yeah,
I said that. EDDIE MORETTI: So
you said that. And then you’ve been around the
world to these festivals. You know better than me
and anyone else here– I don’t know– what the state of film culture
is around the world. GRETA GERWIG: I mean, people
certainly are watching movies and watching content. I mean, definitely, but
numbers-wise, people are not going to movie theaters as
much as they used to, especially for smaller films. Like event films are different,
if it’s in 3D or it’s part six of a “Fast and
Furious,” or whatever. Those movies get people out. But part of the thing is– I mean, I feel two
ways about it. This is what I feel. It’s like bookstores in
the ’90s got killed by Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble and Borders
killed independent bookstores. And then Amazon killed– EDDIE MORETTI: Killed them. GRETA GERWIG: –Barnes
and Noble. But the ones that survived
the whole time, they’re still around. Like, for some reason in
Sacramento, where I grew up, there’s a bookstore called
The Avid Reader, which is still going. And it lasted. And it feels like those
institutions are going to be OK, or like Three Lives or
Shakespeare and Company or whatever in New York. And in LA, there’s a bookstore
called Book Soup. I mean, stuff like that. EDDIE MORETTI: This
neighborhood, Williamsburg, has tons of them. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. And it feels that way
for film too. In a way, we’re getting
killed. But if we can kind of stay alive
long enough, then, I always say it’s like
the cockroaches. EDDIE MORETTI: Yeah. But beautiful cockroaches. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, but it’s
like indestructible, after nuclear annihilation. EDDIE MORETTI: Well, I have this
theory about things like this that you can look at the
changes and the innovations in the food world. That’s your best barometer and
bellwether on how little cockroaches, like great indie
films, will survive and even flourish in the middle of the
bigger business of films. Because food culture across this
country and around the world has been transforming
over the last decade. And I’ve always noticed now
restaurants popping up in Williamsburg or the Lower East
Side or anywhere in New York and in Greenpoint or whatever
being run by people who 10 years ago would have
started a band. And instead of starting up
a band, they’re having a restaurant. And the restaurant is like a
little cockroach, because it’s just resilient. It’s not part of a big chain. And it’s innovative and
the food is good. GRETA GERWIG: The cockroach
metaphor doesn’t take you so far. I appreciate you trying to. EDDIE MORETTI: We’ll
stamp that one. GRETA GERWIG: I think it’s hard,
because I also don’t love independent cinema for
the sake of it being independent. If great movies could be made in
a certain way in the studio system, I’d love that. I mean, we love well-made
movies about people. And this movie, it took
a long time to make. The script took a long
time to write. We shot for 50 days. I mean, it was made
on a budget. But it was also made
rigorously. And if there was a way to
do that, if studios were financing movies in a way that
they used to and really aren’t any more, of a certain kind,
that would be great. But they’re not. EDDIE MORETTI: They’re not. GRETA GERWIG: But I’m
not interested– it’s like I feel like– EDDIE MORETTI: I get it. I get it. I hope everyone else does. But I just got it. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. It’s not just about
indie and stuff. EDDIE MORETTI: No. The cinematic expression is
meant to compete at the highest possible level, even
though you don’t have a million dollars or less than
a million dollars. We’re not aiming our sights
at the budget. We’re aiming our sights at– GRETA GERWIG: The product. EDDIE MORETTI: –the work of
art and its literary value, its cinematic value, and its
potential to get to go from to 4 to 150 plus screens
and counting. GRETA GERWIG: I know. EDDIE MORETTI: So let’s move a
little bit, but not too far. GRETA GERWIG: OK. EDDIE MORETTI: My partner, Shane
Smith, one of the other founders of Vice had a question
at the screening that we did for the film. But I didn’t pick him. So he was upset that
I didn’t pick him. But his question was
interesting. And it kind of follows. He said great story, amazing. You guys are very
accomplished. You write the script. You go out for financing. And everyone’s like, amazing. This is a great story. These characters are
well written. It’s funny. I laughed. And you and Noah and whoever
else, the producers, get to that point where you’re like,
and it’s going to be in black and white. And that’s when everyone
goes, ugh, generally. GRETA GERWIG: Right. EDDIE MORETTI: Was there that
moment in the process? GRETA GERWIG: All of those
steps happened. They just happened in a slightly
different order. Noah had made a deal and I had
made a deal with the people who financed the movie. It’s these Brazilian guys. EDDIE MORETTI: I know. I met them. They invited me to
the screening. Great guys. GRETA GERWIG: They’re great. EDDIE MORETTI: Great guys. GRETA GERWIG: They’re awesome. I mean, they really
gave us freedom. And we actually didn’t
show them the script. EDDIE MORETTI: I like
that strategy. GRETA GERWIG: They knew
we were going to shoot in black and white. And the only thing that they
really knew was that they would get a movie. And it would be a real movie. It wouldn’t be an experimental
movie. It would be a movie that– EDDIE MORETTI: A narrative. GRETA GERWIG: It was
a narrative. It would have a script. It would be similar to Noah’s
other movies, and that I would be in it. They really took it on faith. EDDIE MORETTI: That’s wild. GRETA GERWIG: And they came
and visited the set. And they watched the early
cuts and were really supportive and were totally
on board with the festival schedule. And when we got the black and
white thing, though, honestly, was when we went to sell
it to distributors. EDDIE MORETTI: So the producers
accepted it. GRETA GERWIG: Yep, they did. EDDIE MORETTI: So explain now. You go to sell the film
and “love it, but.” GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, everybody
said “love it, but.” And I didn’t know a lot of this
before, but a way a lot of these distribution companies
stay afloat is that they cover themselves by making output
deals with television, so that even if the movie loses money,
they’re covered. And they can’t make
output deals on a black and white movie. EDDIE MORETTI: I did
not know that. GRETA GERWIG: So they can
not cover themselves. So Sony Pictures Classics and
Focus Features and Fox Searchlight couldn’t buy it,
because it couldn’t cover it. It was too risky. It was actually just dollars and
cents, it was too risky. EDDIE MORETTI: But was the
asking price that high? GRETA GERWIG: No, it
wasn’t so high. EDDIE MORETTI: Do you think
it was a little bit like– GRETA GERWIG: To release a film
is expensive, even if the price of the film isn’t a lot. it’s an investment. I mean, I also think
it’s risky. It is risky. Black and white is risky. EDDIE MORETTI: But is it a
cultural thing with some producers, obviously not these
guys who are great, but with the distributors that, ahhh,
that already says something about this film? It’s not going to
go far and wide. And how can that even be
after “The Artist”? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, well,
that’s Harvey Weinstein, though, working his magic. EDDIE MORETTI: So he can just
push black and white down everyone’s throats. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. I think it’s when they see it,
it’s that they see a limit to how big it can be. So they immediately see it,
and they’re like, well, we know it can’t do x amount of
dollars, because at a certain point, people won’t go see
black and white movies. But I think that in some ways,
it makes it more special and more sought-after by a certain
demographic of an audience if it’s in black and white. And Alexander Payne’s new
movie, “Nebraska,” is in black and white. And “Good Night and Good Luck”
is in black and white, and Coen brothers– EDDIE MORETTI: The new one? GRETA GERWIG: No, the old one. “The Man–” EDDIE MORETTI: “Who
Hitchcock’s. GRETA GERWIG: But “The Man–”
who did something– EDDIE MORETTI: Interesting,
worthy of us shooting a film about it. GRETA GERWIG: I think Billy
Bob Thornton was in it. EDDIE MORETTI: Oh yeah,
yeah, yeah. The creepy– yes. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: Yeah. Got it, yeah. GRETA GERWIG: But anyway, it’s
limiting is the point. EDDIE MORETTI: Got it. So when was it a black
and white film? At what point in
the conception? GRETA GERWIG: Really, early. Really early in writing it, we
knew it was going to be in black and white. And then over the course of
writing it, Noah was doing tests with Sam Levy, the DP on
different cameras, with the help of the late, great Harris
Savides and Pascal Dangin, who is a colorist. And the three of them kind of
cooked up the way it looks. And it took a lot of
testing, though. And some of the style is
dictated by the limitations of the camera. It doesn’t handle movement
super well. EDDIE MORETTI: Oh, wow. So lot of fixed camera
lock-down. GRETA GERWIG: Locking it down. But that was sort of always
the way we saw it, too. EDDIE MORETTI: It’s not a hand–
it doesn’t feel like– GRETA GERWIG: It’s
not hand-held. EDDIE MORETTI: –a hand-held
script, though, if you read it, probably. GRETA GERWIG: It might
feel like a handheld script if you read it. I don’t know. Actually the way I always saw
it when we were writing it. And I told Noah this. And he said, I see
it the same way. I think I remember turning
to him at some point. I was like you know
I see this as like moving tableaux, right? And he was like, yup. That’s exactly how I see it. And I was OK, good. Because sometimes you
don’t know if you’re making the same thing. And I think for him, “Greenberg”
was more lock-down actually as a look. It was all handheld
follow shots. And so I know he has
the ability to go both ways as a filmmaker. EDDIE MORETTI: Is that little
episode indicative of your creative collaboration? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. Basically it’s been– EDDIE MORETTI: Like,
affirmative. Move on. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: And isn’t
that amazing? GRETA GERWIG: It’s amazing. It’s the only time I’ve ever
really experienced that. I mean, I kind of excel at
getting behind lots of people’s world views, which
makes me a good actor, but maybe a bad politician? I don’t know. But I can easily get
behind the way a director wants to do something. But I’ve never quite felt like
the way I wanted to do it, it was the same, that
I wanted to it– EDDIE MORETTI: This sounds
like exchange, right? GRETA GERWIG: And he wanted– EDDIE MORETTI: There’s an
exchange of vision. And when someone communicates
the vision and the other person gets it, it’s almost
like, great, let’s move on to the next part of
the challenge. And was it like rapid fire,
creative challenge, problem-solving, sharing? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. The writing process was
a little slower. Because with acting and with
writing, I feel like there’s a part of you that doesn’t know
what you’re doing, which is the part of you that probably
comes up with the most interesting stuff. But then the part of you that
knows what it’s doing helps organize that other part and
shape it and mold it. And you kind of need to zoom in
and out between those two modes of thinking. And I think in some ways,
you’ll make something or you’ll write something and
you’re like I don’t even know what it is. And you have to kind of let
it sit with yourself. And then you’re like
I know what it is. It goes here. So I felt like the writing
process, you let it marinate. EDDIE MORETTI: Do you
like writing? GRETA GERWIG: I like it. EDDIE MORETTI: A lot? Do you love it? GRETA GERWIG: I love it. I find it really scary. EDDIE MORETTI: But satisfying,
ultimately? GRETA GERWIG: The
most satisfying. EDDIE MORETTI: I want
to agree with you. GRETA GERWIG: The most,
but– you don’t? EDDIE MORETTI: I do. GRETA GERWIG: You do. EDDIE MORETTI: I want to. OK, I did. GRETA GERWIG: You did. EDDIE MORETTI: I just did. I agree with you. I think it is the
most satisfying. And I love the temporality of
the process, because a lot of times you don’t know. And you will not pick
up the pen for extended periods of time. It was only after having some
success with that kind of process that when you get to
those periods, you stop seeing them as writer’s block. And you start seeing them as– GRETA GERWIG: You’re
doing something. EDDIE MORETTI: You’re actually
really working really hard, because you don’t want
to put bullshit down. You want to get to the truth
of what you’re creating. GRETA GERWIG: Maybe it’s
different for a novelist. I wrote plays and stuff in
college and after college. And I collaborated on more
devised ideas of screenplays. But they weren’t actually
written. And I felt like I’d moved away
from writing because I was acting a lot. But I feel like, for
screenplays, I think there’s an idea of writing much as
there’s an idea from math that we’ve been given by movies,
which is, apparently you have to do all your math on a
mirror or on a window. And that’s not what people
doing math looks like. It’s not like someone scribbling
feverishly or be like, I can’t look
at you right now. EDDIE MORETTI: Crumpling
up paper and throwing it across the room. GRETA GERWIG: Actually, a friend
of mine pointed out in “Good Will Hunting,” there’s
this scene where they’re doing math together, him
and his mentor. And they literally
are canceling out things in an equation. And my friend’s a
mathematician. And he’s like nobody cancels
out things after algebra. It’s done. No more canceling. And I was like, true. That doesn’t make
sense at all. But I feel like there’s this
idea of a writer who’s sitting down, typing constantly. And novels have a
lot of words. But screenplays and
plays don’t. You can’t solidly type
for eight hours. I mean, you can. But it’s going to be drivel. A lot of it is thinking. A lot of it’s staring
out the window. A lot of it is almost physically
organized. Sometimes I just cut lines out
and try to find the way they’re organized physically. I just feel like this idea of
writing I have from movies is totally misleading. And I think it makes me
feel like I’m less productive than I am. EDDIE MORETTI: And how long
was the writing period for “Frances Ha”? GRETA GERWIG: It was a year. EDDIE MORETTI: It was a year. And what were you doing
in that year? GRETA GERWIG: I mean,
I was acting a lot. EDDIE MORETTI: A lot. GRETA GERWIG: So it was also
happening in between stuff and make-up chairs. It wasn’t all concentrated. EDDIE MORETTI: But how often did
your brain go to the story and the character? GRETA GERWIG: You know,
it’s funny. Because for me, it’s almost
like I put the money in the machine. It’s almost like I give myself
these questions, like here are the problems in the script. And I don’t actively
think about them. I just keep remembering
the problem in the back of my head. And then they’ll solve
themselves. EDDIE MORETTI: But was there
a joy in that process? GRETA GERWIG: Yes, so fun. Because it felt like I was
letting my brain do something. But I wasn’t thinking my way
through it in any literal way. EDDIE MORETTI: But in a way, in
those moments, the artwork is really coming
into your life. And is that a beautiful thing? GRETA GERWIG: So fun. It’s so fun. It’s also like everything– EDDIE MORETTI: It stops being
anything that resembles a career at that moment,
doesn’t it? And it becomes so much more
important about– GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: Right? GRETA GERWIG: And
it’s also like– I mean, I’m not a
saintly person. I’m incredibly prone to jealousy
and pettiness and self-aggrandizement. What’s amazing about it
is it cures all of it. The work cures all of it. It makes you so much more
capable of being appreciative of other people, instead
of jealous of them. EDDIE MORETTI: It makes you
more sensitive, right? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: It makes
you better. GRETA GERWIG: It just makes you
more capable of resting in what you do and knowing
that that’s enough. And I feel like when I’ve been
thwarted or frustrated, that’s when I’m like kind of a small
person about things. EDDIE MORETTI: Does that change
that process and that kind of like– it sounds like you had a
revelation in the midst of this process. Does that change the way you
think of the business of filmmaking? And do you think that if that
process you described was the process that most people went on
in the production of film, that our film culture would
look different? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. I’m sure everybody’s process
is different. But I feel like if everybody
kind of had access to that total love of doing it and joy
and amazement and excite– like that kind of engagement,
yeah, I think it would be different. EDDIE MORETTI: Kind of
would have to be. I get the feeling that
that kind of stuff doesn’t happen too often. A lot of people, even ones that
love film and are very serious, are still, I think,
consumed in a careerist sort of mentality, where the writing
of a script is kind of mechanical. And it kind of makes sense. And it’s like wow, that was
great and punchy, but little beyond that. GRETA GERWIG: I don’t know. I’m of two minds about it,
because on the one hand, it was really life changing for
me to make this movie. And I would hope I have more
experiences like that. But at the same times, sometimes
I think this is– I go on both sides. Sometimes I think that having
to answer to an audience is not always a bad thing. And sometimes the mechanics
of making a certain type of movie– they can have an art
in themselves. I was watching– like Hitchcock,
like he’s a master and it’s inspired, but it’s also
incredibly precise and mechanical in a way. EDDIE MORETTI: For
sure, but it– GRETA GERWIG: But sometimes
it doesn’t– I mean, I just watched “To Catch
A Thief,” which I don’t think is very good. I don’t like it as much. It’s not as good as
his other ones. And I don’t know why. EDDIE MORETTI: But it’s
a very colorful film. GRETA GERWIG: It’s colorful. And it’s beautiful. But for me, there’s something
missing in it. And I can’t tell you what. I don’t know. But sometimes I feel like having
that structure is good. EDDIE MORETTI: His best films
were the ones that were actually most personal
to him and deeply motivated by weird– GRETA GERWIG: Weird stuff. EDDIE MORETTI: Personal
tortures. GRETA GERWIG: That’s true. EDDIE MORETTI: And that film was
a kind of formulaic kind of whatever thief film. What do you call that? GRETA GERWIG: A caper? EDDIE MORETTI: Caper. Yeah. A caper. GRETA GERWIG: Caper. EDDIE MORETTI: A caper film. GRETA GERWIG: A thief film. EDDIE MORETTI: A thief film. It’s all about thieves. So I want to go just one
layer deeper into your psychology as an artist. And then we’ll get out
of your brain. GRETA GERWIG: I always feel
nervous when I have these kinds of conversations, because
I’m like this is just some bullshit I’m thinking
this week. EDDIE MORETTI: No. GRETA GERWIG: And then in 10
years, someone’s going to be like but you said this thing. And I’ll be like I didn’t know
what I was talking about. Anyway, sorry. EDDIE MORETTI: So one more twist
to the screw, right? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: Those moments
where you’re not working on the film because you’re doing
other things, but the film is in there– the script, the
story, the characters are percolating. And then it comes back to you
as a problem or a question. And you engage with it and you
feel that purity of that engagement, do you also
feel at that time– because you talked about not
forgetting the audience– this is pretty self-absorbed,
right, this moment. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: Do not feel also
that at that moment of maximum self-absorption, that’s
actually what you owe the audience. GRETA GERWIG: That’s
interesting. EDDIE MORETTI: Because the
thing gets good when you’re fully in. And actually that is what
a viewer really wants is like bring me– the worst word is authenticity,
because it gets thrown around everywhere
all the time. But that’s what that is. It’s an authentic moment. And only if you are allowed at
that moment, does the thing on the other get good
for a viewer. GRETA GERWIG: Right. EDDIE MORETTI: Or do you
think that’s bullshit? GRETA GERWIG: No. I don’t think that’s bullshit. I think that there’s something
that happens when you get so deeply into something to where
I think paradoxically you almost lose yourself, even
though it is inherently self-absorbed. It’s like the self sort
of goes away. It’s weird. EDDIE MORETTI: And do you
approach some kind of universal truth at that time? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, probably
at that moment. No, it’s true. I have a tendency to speak dramatically about these things. So you’re totally leading me
right down into my comfort zone, which is like– EDDIE MORETTI: Let’s
stay here. GRETA GERWIG: But I do think
there is something that happens that kind of you’re so
in it, and then you’re gone. I mean it’s almost like you have
to give yourself so far that you go away. And then– EDDIE MORETTI: You lose yourself
in that moment, and– GRETA GERWIG: You come back. And I was going to say actually
in “Frances Ha,” this is really like inside
baseball. But in the first scene, Frances
and Sophie are hanging out together, and Sophie’s
knitting. This is in a montage. And Frances reads something
to her. She says oh, this
is interesting. And she reads something. And it’s from this book called
“Sincerity and Authenticity” by Lionel Trilling. Anyway, because I
was reading it. And I thought it was
really like– Anyway the quote is “To praise
a work of art by calling it sincere is to say, at best, its
intentions were good” or something like that. And it’s almost used
as a slight. But authenticity has
greater weight. It’s almost those distinctions
between the sublime and the beautiful. Anyway, it’s really great
and really interesting. EDDIE MORETTI: Well, sincere
sounds like it was an attempt to capture authenticity
that failed. And authenticity nails it. And this is a perfect segue,
because I want to get out of your brain now. GRETA GERWIG: OK. EDDIE MORETTI: And I want
to talk about the film. So you can take a deep breath. GRETA GERWIG: All right. EDDIE MORETTI: So what it is, if
you can really crystallize it, the thing, the object
of this authentic quest? When you kept coming back to
writing “Frances Ha,” it’s about a lot of different things
and class, like the French and the Europeans
say, maybe– but was there one thing that
always brought you back, that pulled you in your guts and in
your heart, that you knew this is what I’m doing here? GRETA GERWIG: Well, I mean, I
think depending on the day, there were different– I mean, sometimes I
read it and I was like this is terrible. This is a terrible– This is a boring movie. Why am I writing? Who even cares? And then other days, I’d read. And I’d be like, it’s funny. I don’t know. It’s pretty good. But I do think that I know what
I want to do, I guess, more than I know what it does. And what I wanted to do is– I don’t know. The films that I have– god. I feel like I’m just going to go
into emotional gobbledygook about films I love. EDDIE MORETTI: That’s OK. GRETA GERWIG: But I feel
like it’s like a– EDDIE MORETTI: It’s totally
acceptable to talk about that. It’s not like you’re
going to swear like sailor on shore leave. GRETA GERWIG: But I feel that
Frances goes through this kind of hero’s journey almost that
seems epic, in a way, even though it’s small. And I think, to me, I feel like
I can talk about this, even though maybe somebody will
watch this who hasn’t seen the movie. But at the end, to me, her
doing what she does and accepting the job that she
does, but then making art anyway, like choreographing her
dance, there’s something in the doing of it. And there’s a way that she stops
reaching for things. And she starts being and just
working from there. I just find it very emotional
when other people do that. EDDIE MORETTI: It
is emotional. GRETA GERWIG: My
dad, when I was growing up, did for himself. And he’s not like a hammy guy. But he did stand up comedy
for himself. EDDIE MORETTI: There’s something
triumphant in that. GRETA GERWIG: So triumphant. EDDIE MORETTI: And so
heroic about that. GRETA GERWIG: And something
about like– I grew up watching a lot
of community theater. There was a couple professional
theater companies in Sacramento, but it was mostly
like City College and the state university in
Sacramento, and just like community theaters that were
nonprofessional that people like substitute teachers or
doctors, people in the community who worked at coffee
shops would on their down time be in musicals and plays. And I don’t know– EDDIE MORETTI: It’s a huge– GRETA GERWIG: To me, that– EDDIE MORETTI: Well, not only
is it a personal triumph and of personal histories, but I
think it’s like maybe even a neglected character in the
history of literature or film. I was always struck
by the character– if I was smarter and better,
I’d remember the name– at the end of “Amadeus”– GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: And
what’s his name? GRETA GERWIG: Salieri. EDDIE MORETTI: Salieri. GRETA GERWIG: Oh my god,
I watched that movie so many times. EDDIE MORETTI: Do you remember
that scene at the end, for me, identified a really powerful
trope, which is he’s the failed Mozart. He’s not the good guy. He’s shit. He was the one stealing. And he’s exiting the sanitarium,
whatever, and he’s like I bless you. GRETA GERWIG: In my
mind, everyone’s playing Mozart as he’s– EDDIE MORETTI: Yeah, but he
blesses them, like the Prince of Failure basically
blesses you. It’s in a really interesting
character. GRETA GERWIG: That
always made me– EDDIE MORETTI: Not only that,
but there are a lot of real people who had these
ambitions to be a singer or to be a dancer. And at some point, there is
that moment in their lives where they hang up the skates. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. Really, for me, the idea that
he was good enough to know that he was not as
good as him. And he knew it the whole time,
and even though he was celebrated and even though
Mozart was down, he knew he wasn’t as good. And that’s– EDDIE MORETTI: That torture. GRETA GERWIG: –so
heartbreaking. I love that movie. I didn’t make “Amadeus.” EDDIE MORETTI: Frances Ha– she’s at that moment, right? GRETA GERWIG: Yeah, she is. I mean, yeah. That’s sort of like the giving
up, but the kind of courage in giving up a certain aspect of
something as part of it. I mean, I feel like there’s
always kind of like a thing that I’m driving towards, and
I’m sort of failing in different ways all the time. I’m always surprised that it’s
not better than it is, whenever I see myself act or
make something, I’m like god, I thought that was
really great. I mean , it’s not
that it’s bad. But it’s like for some reason,
I thought it would be even better all the time. EDDIE MORETTI: Right. And how about with this film,
do you feel that way? GRETA GERWIG: This is
as close as I come. But I still felt like the first
time I watched it all the way through with all
the edits and the fixes, I was sad. I was sort of like that’s it? EDDIE MORETTI: Oh
shit, really? That’s all we did? GRETA GERWIG: It felt
like it was more! I think that’s probably why
everybody goes crazy at a certain point, because it feels
like you’re just trying. It’s just endless, trying at
the same thing and failing different, interesting ways. EDDIE MORETTI: Right. Yeah. I was going to say
semi-pretentious about Godard saying that all of his films
are failures, and he always accepted that in advance. They’re never going to be the
things that he wished and he wanted them to be. And the varying degrees
of failure is his whole cinematic career. GRETA GERWIG: In a way, it
helps you to get over any fear, because you’re like, well,
it’s going to be bad, so I could just draw from there. EDDIE MORETTI: It saves you
in a way in advance. OK. Maybe one last question. GRETA GERWIG: Oh sure. EDDIE MORETTI: Frances wanted
to be something. GRETA GERWIG: Oh yeah. EDDIE MORETTI: At
least one thing. GRETA GERWIG: Right. EDDIE MORETTI: Right? GRETA GERWIG: Right. EDDIE MORETTI: We don’t know if
she wanted to get married or anything. But she wanted to
dance, right? GRETA GERWIG: Definitely. EDDIE MORETTI: And her life
deals her a hand. And she is kind of
Salieri in a way. But she finds a new path where
she can have that and still do the other job and
the other thing. Can you detach yourself now from
that decision and look back at it and go I’m going to
now explore the other type of person who would have said you
know what– who would like smash their fist on the table
and go I do not accept that. GRETA GERWIG: Yeah. I’d like to make a film
about that person. I haven’t figured out
how to do it yet. Yeah, I would really like to
make a film about that person, because I think that person’s
just as real. EDDIE MORETTI: And completely
different from Frances. GRETA GERWIG: And completely
different. I’d like to really
make more films. I love acting, and hope
to keep acting. But the level of like literally
feeling like there’s a weight lifted off of me with
making things is kind of unparalleled. And I just hope that I can get
out of my way enough to be able to do it and
keep doing it. Because if I’m anything, it’s
an expert at finding ways to stop myself from doing stuff,
because it’s scary. EDDIE MORETTI: Well, don’t. Don’t find ways to stop
yourself, because you’re a great writer. It was a great film. You should do it again. GRETA GERWIG: Thanks. Thank you. great. That was really fun. EDDIE MORETTI: Yeah,
great, awesome.

100 thoughts on “Greta Gerwig on Frances Ha and the Film Industry: VICE Podcast 007

  1. The interviewer makes this uncomfortable. Ask a short question and let the guest talk; we want to hear her answers in her own words. (Who am I writing that last part to? I am writing as if the dude is actually going to read it. "Hahaha!") I'm finished venting.

  2. Don't really understand what people are complaining about. Instead if looking at their faces listen to what they have to say.

  3. Oh shit we got Captain Technicality over here. I can here you're condescending little shit mind saying: "AH HELL NAW! A progression of 4 to 81 to 121 over a consistent interval of time doesn't follow an exponential curve. Wow, my powers of technical bull shit are really handy… I'm smart!! So she must be dumb!!" No! You're not smart. You're just obnoxiously technical

  4. goddamn the interviewer just needs to shut up and let her talk instead trying to paraphrase what she's saying

  5. You are right, however. The documentary groups working with vice have some great documentaries. And i would love too see them cover indie-films and such.

  6. ok wtf is "francis ha"? and im supposed to know this bitch? no no, please dont bother explain anything, I will just go to the corner

  7. can someone tell me there is anything shattering she speaks about of the film industry and what timecode to skip too, listened to two minutes of it was almost died from boredom.

  8. Her points on the film industry were interesting, but this film was horribly banal and pretentious, like Baumbach had scraped the worst turds of Godard and smeared it on American filmstock.

  9. Maybe you could start off by telling us what this film is about so we have some idea of what the fuck you're discussing.

  10. Movie industry is shit. I just got out. It's going down. The big studios are destroying it. That's my opinion.

  11. Hey Eddie… just because she keeps using hand gestures… doesn't mean YOU have to match them every time with YOUR hand gestures!!!

  12. What do they mean by that? I'm from Philly so I'm kinda clueless what they're getting at about the parents lol

  13. It may just be me, but they look like they're both high in this. Just the they're talking and moving and getting off topic so much, and of course the eyes lol

  14. are all these dislikes just from idiots like this ^^^ that dont know what the Frances Ha is? If you dont know what it is why would you dislike it?

  15. yes. i am lucky to get my gift iphone 5 from youtube questionnaire for nothing. but i can tell you one thing, email and your address is enough to get your iphone 5. if you wanna try just try now –>

  16. you can search the world wide web and discover it while gaining more info on it then they would have offered.laziness is a virtue

  17. Vice: your #1 source for social media documentaries, and your shittiest source for shitty hipster moron interviews!

  18. Libtard? Why are you on the Vice channel when you think that's a real word? This really isn't a place for you, friend.

  19. Vice post such good content but it readers/viewers have a bad habit of being ignorant and down right rude, this is video interesting and Francis ha seems like a good movie.

  20. copy paste much? Anyway I expect interviewers to introduce their topics if they are not obvious. If that is wrong then call me a fucktard

  21. not knowing "francis ha" makes people ignorant? a little pretentious yes? also it was not a critique of the film, it was a critique of the interview. I saw 10 mins and they still didnt bother explain what the film is about or wtf "francis ha" means

  22. how was it not obvious? it states in the title its about the film industry, in the description it tells you both who she is and what she's discussing (her new movie and the film industry) and they talk about the movie and her in the video.

  23. i thought she had some very interesting views on the industry. hmmmmm… it reminded me of this video and how a lot of the film industry is dying

  24. i scrolled down to see what other people thought about this and got nothing but either arguments or negative things. Come on guys.
    I for one really enjoyed this! Thanks Vice

  25. I saw this film absolutely by chance one afternoon when I decided to go to a great independent cinema (Utòpia) I'd bumped into in Bordeaux in France. I loved it because it left me with such a wonderful feeling when I left the cinema, and I loved it even more because it came completely out of the blue and I didn't see it coming. Please make another one very soon. I left the cinema with all my emotions at the surface.. It made a big, big difference and I'm really glad I saw it.

  26. The interviewer, Moretti, is clearly a smart guy, but his interview style is not enjoyable. It feels rude, constantly stepping on the interviewee's lines. Greta is very likable. I wish she would have expanded on the process of writing as a salve for pettiness and jealousy. The thing about not being able to easily sell this movie to distribution companies due to the black and white element was interesting.

  27. It's amazing…..nasty comments directed at the people in the video, yet they say more about the posters than anything else.

  28. its like, my career, like- its still going- and its like i'm like, you know, press, like and whatever, and focus , they were like- like between like money and who has like money and destitute and anyway, like, who

  29. loved this film and the genuine quirkiness of Greta's character.  I don't like it in films/tv where the awkwardness of the characters seems forced (i.e. Juno, Big Bang Theory).  In this film the characters seem natural, and their interactions seem real.

  30. Great interview. I adore this film. Weird weird: I have watched the film twice and actually didn't notice that it was shot in black and white. 

  31. Anyone who dislike this film is completely TASTELESS! This film does A LOT in 86 minutes. It's so entertaining, and sooooo detailed! I enjoyed it much more thana lot  of Woody Allen classics. Frances is such a charming character. This one is by far my favorite film of 2013. 

  32. wtf, do people still go to the movie theaters……..??????!!!!!! Greta Gerwig got mad at me for refusing to keep working for $75/day, and this movie IS about class and the movie industry IS SOO MUCH about class.  Mike Judge has often commented on that being Hollywoods problem and now the person from Sac who should be highlighting this fact, refuses to even acknowledge a major theme of her movie… , she's just too blinded by "luck".  She likes to flash you when she gets angry though, which was cool.

  33. or, more likely she's just being "proper" so the rich people will still want to give her money to do things… I'm an idiot…


  35. I think you guys really want to be with Annapurna Pictures, that girl seems to have a good idea about marketing movies for people to see in the theaters. 

  36. The marketing cost for movies is why forcing productions costs to be so low is straight up immoral.  Because, it's always 20-40 million to release a movie(so says Kevin Smith).  

  37. …had I known she was from sac, I may have had something to talk to her about on set, instead of always trying to read shit on my phone, which was awesome to see them freak out about (I had no real friends but they still thought I may be texting someone..? I guess, I was working on movies and studying about Dogme95 when mumble corp began so I had no idea anyone on set was known except the squid and whale guy, who's movies I had not seen, I only worked on it because he co-wrote Life Aquatic, which was better Wes Anderson's previous movies, or so I thought at the time.

  38. Do it again, just don't make crew have to become "producers" by taking deferred payment.  I gave a lot, and I emailed that girl they originally had exactly how to record scenes like I did, I didn't HAVE to do that and it sounds like my technique was given to the dude they found after me, albeit, it was a technique specific to the lead girls' voices.

  39. the host is great! his style invites comfort and informality, and this is one of the few interviews for this film you'll see that feels like a natural, actually substantial conversation where she gets at intelligent ideas and opens herself up. greta's super smart and articulate. good interview!

  40. The frame is interrupted by dudebros and LOOK MOM THERE'S MY DESK OMG. The audio pots GG below the interviewer, who, when he's not defining her experience for her, interrupts to talk about himself. It's also lit for him. So, was Greta the backdrop? Signs say yes. Less mansplaining, learn how to use your depth of field. This upload's a nice place for an interview with Miss Gerwig, better luck next time.

  41. interesting stuff, despite Greta coming across a bit too bubbly – she's certainly a smart lass with a interesting film career ahead of her.

  42. Greta Gerwig's thoughts and interpretations (in life and in her writing) are standalone (in her head).. it doesn't have en environment in the sense that she doesn't compare it to anything else.. she does it a few times here because she can understand the connection/ comparison to a parallel thought but she is very reluctant to give in to that.. because they are separate events for her.. the way her thoughts arrange themselves are very organic.. that if she brackets it with other thoughts or even explains her own thoughts it loses that organic feeling.. it becomes part a template.. it loses that originality and i think that's what makes Greta Gerwig Greta Gerwig..

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