Meeting Greta Gerwig


Sydney Shields and Molly Gherini

As a lover of film and TV, I am always looking up film locations. Knowing this, senior Sophia Biehle, who works as a waitress at Burr’s Fountain, informed me that scenes of the 2013 indie film “Frances Ha!” were filmed in the iconic East Sacramento ice cream parlor.

The star and co-writer, Greta Gerwig, is a Sacramento native, and I was filled with hometown pride when I read that she wanted to someday direct a movie in Sacramento.

I wasn’t thinking about that a few months later, when I was driving home after school and came across portable movie sets and trailers parked along M Street in the Fab Forties.

I continued home, but then walked my dog back to the set, typing interview questions on my phone along the way. I was being totally casual when I walked up to the first person I saw. Turns out I  was on the the set of Gerwig’s movie she was filming in Sacramento and Los Angeles, “Ladybird.” The person I approached was producer Evelyn O’neill.

I could see Gerwig 20 feet away, dressed in a white calf-length dress and loafers, when I asked O’neill, if I could interview her for the Mirada.

I could see Gerwig’s enthusiasm when O’neill walked over to ask. She approached me with a warm smile and genuine kindness. I was thrilled she was willing to take time out of her busy day for a short conversation with me and my iPhone.

Gerwig was very funny and didn’t mind giving an interview to the Mirada, even though she attended St. Francis and is a “Troubie for life.”

She had already turned down interview requests by the Sacramento Bee and News and Review, but said she loved that I was “being active in your school” and learning to be a writer.  

While the producer made it very clear to me to not release any information about the film Ladybird itself as they were trying to keep a low profile, I spoke with Gerwig for short three minutes about Sacramento, and she provided helpful advice for college and beyond.

“My advice to you is to just start working,” Gerwig said. “In whatever field you want to pursue the best way to get started is just by doing. If you want to go into film, start making movies now. Just being hands-on and starting on what you want to do early on will be very helpful for the future.”  

Gerwig’s parents still live in the house she grew up in in River Park. She attended Phoebe Hearst and Sutter Middle School before St Francis. She said she “visits often” to see her parents and friends.

“I chose Sacramento (for the film location), because I love it,” she said. “It’s the perfect place to grow up; it’s beautiful and the people are great. I have so many happy memories here, so it means a lot to take my career with me to my hometown.”

Mid interview, Saoirse Ronan from Brooklyn (2015) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) passed by and began complimenting my dog. Dogs are the most precious of creatures, but my dog just became my own personal hero.

Ronan’s thick Irish accent was charming and her affinity for dogs was relatable.

The whole commotion of the movie was drawing people to the set, like nearby resident and Rio junior Molly Gherini who got the chance to meet Ronan.

“She was very sweet and her (Irish) accent was adorable.” said Gherini, who was also lucky enough to snag a picture.Gerwig had lots of insightful advice and was happy to share with us.

Ladybird will “hopefully” premier in early to mid 2017, Gerwig said.

I can’t reveal anything about it, but her last words made me think of her breakout movie, “Frances Ha!”

In that movie Gerwig’s character struggles to be a dancer, till she finally finds a way to realize her passion.

She told me about the importance of “exploring and experimenting” with different interests when you are young so that when the time comes to decide on a path you are more aware of what you want to do. Then, pursue that career choice with passion.

She told me that anybody who stays persistent and focused can succeed.

“If I can do it, anybody can,” she said with a smile.