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Greta Gerwig Talks Learning on the Job in Directorial Debut ‘Lady Bird’

”The only way to get the knowledge is to jump and say ‘I don’t know, can you help me?'“ the Gerwig says

Greta Gerwig discussed the importance of learning on the job when it comes to filmmaking in conversation with CEO of CSpence Group Courtney Spence at the “Director’s Chair” panel at the third annual Women in Entertainment Summit Thursday at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. 

She said she’s noticed among her peers the tendency “to over-prepare,” a sense that “you need to be so qualified to do something, particularly for women because there’s a fear that someone’s going to call you out.”

But after she wrote “Lady Bird,” she felt she was ready to make her directorial debut even though she wasn’t yet an expert.

“The only way to get the knowledge is to jump and say ‘I don’t know, can you help me?'” she said. “Particularly in filmmaking, people can make women feel they don’t understand the technical part of it.”

Instead of letting the jargon get in the way, Gerwig found people she trusted to teach her those aspects of filmmaking she hadn’t already picked up during her work as an actress, co-writer and producer on other projects.

Why would you know what it is until someone explains it to you?” she asked. “Finding people you can admit you don’t know things to is a big part of [learning and success].”

Gerwig also touched on being a millennial in the film industry. She thinks a sea change is coming because the younger generations “expect” to be see themselves onscreen; they want diversity and fresh voices. “It’s not that they don’t want to see things that aren’t about them,” Gerwig said of the demographic. “But they want the option of being represented.”

“[I’m] excited about the changing of the guard,” she said. 

“Lady Bird” will debut in US theaters Nov. 3.