Posted on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 by Marshall Shaffer
Director Greta Gerwig conducted the set of Lady Bird with the utmost respect for her crew. Cribbing an idea from her 20th Century Women director Mike Mills, she asked everyone to wear name tags during filming so people could get to know each other. She even took it one step further – a PA came up with a conversation-starting question of the day, which everyone then had to answer on their name tag.
Gerwig is not the first person to run a set with this kind of dignity and civility, nor does Lady Bird‘s status as Rotten Tomatoes’ best reviewed film of all time (well, until recently) inherently derive from this production environment. But it does show that there is more than one way to create great art, and it is not necessarily the product of toil and agony from a single tortured artist.
Look at the films from 2017 that centered around artists and their creative process, however, and it’s tough to find anyone who looks or acts remotely like a Gerwig. In a year where the toxicity of a male-dominated film production space became glaringly apparent thanks to the courage of countless brave individuals, the prevalence of this abrasive, abusive archetype in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina’s Coco, Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories and Darren Aronofsky’s mother! speaks volumes about the mindset of an industry. Most stop short of full-scale lionizing this figure, but the collective fascination borders on fetishization.