- Greta Gerwig’s success with Barbie will give her the freedom to make any movies she wants in the future, proving indie filmmakers can become blockbuster directors without selling out.
- Gerwig’s indie films, like Frances Ha and Lady Bird, gained mainstream success and made her a household name, setting her up for a massive studio budget for Barbie.
- Criticisms of Gerwig “selling out” to make Barbie reveal a double standard with blockbuster directors, as other successful directors started with indie films before moving on to big-budget projects.
Director Greta Gerwig has been accused of selling out after her work on Barbie, but she already shut her critics down back in 2019. Thanks to the blockbuster success of Barbie, Gerwig will surely have a blank check from studios to make whatever movies she wants in the future. She’s a rare director who’s popular with both critics and casual audiences, but even the most lauded filmmakers have their share of detractors. When Gerwig left the indie movie scene to make a big-budget studio film, a vocal minority criticized the Barbie director for selling out.
Gerwig started out working on no-budget “mumblecore” films like Hannah Takes the Stairs and Nights and Weekends. When she began collaborating with Noah Baumbach, they co-wrote Frances Ha and Mistress America, which Gerwig also starred in. She then stepped out as a solo writer-director with the universally acclaimed Lady Bird and Little Women. With her third directorial feature, Barbie, Gerwig worked on a much bigger scale than ever before. Back in 2019, Gerwig proved that indie filmmakers who become blockbuster directors aren’t sellouts — and that was before she even signed on to make Barbie.
Greta Gerwig Shut Down “Sellout” Criticisms With A Major Truth About Indie Filmmaking Back In 2019
In The Hollywood Reporter’s “First, Best, Last, Worst!” series (via YouTube), Gerwig was asked about the worst stereotypes of indie filmmakers. She said that the misconception that indie directors are pretentious is the worst one, as indie filmmaking is really just “people making films without any financing.” While indie directors tend to have a lot of passion for their projects, because they don’t earn a ton of money, the actual business practices of independent cinema have “nothing to do with their heart.” Gerwig explained that the indie circuit is “just where you start out” when the producers don’t have big studio backing.
Gerwig’s early successes, like Frances Ha and Lady Bird, were produced on a shoestring budget and managed to find mainstream success. Their relatable characters and storylines spoke to audiences around the world. Gerwig’s indie films made her a household name with real Hollywood clout, and she used that success to secure a massive nine-figure studio budget. She’s not a sellout at all; she’s just following the established path to success as a filmmaker. She pointedly mentioned that other directors have launched careers with indie films: “Even Steven Spielberg was once an indie filmmaker before Jaws.”
Greta Gerwig’s Sellout Criticisms Highlight A Weird Hypocrisy With Blockbuster Directors
Criticisms that Gerwig sold out to make Barbie have highlighted a weird double standard with blockbuster directors. Spielberg started out making smaller movies, like The Sugarland Express, before moving on to action-packed, trend-setting blockbusters like Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Christopher Nolan’s first movie was the no-budget indie flick Following, but he later moved on to big-budget superhero films with The Dark Knight trilogy. Neither Spielberg nor Nolan is considered a sellout, so why is Gerwig? Gerwig will still make smaller Lady Bird-style films after Barbie; she just now has the financial backing to pursue other projects that she couldn’t before.