Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

NYFF: Noah Baumbach Explains Why 'Frances Ha' Is Like A Paul McCartney Record & More From The Cast

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist September 21, 2012 at 2:05PM

The Noah Baumbach Fanclub was likely pretty disheartened this year. "While We're Young" had casting rumors buzzing around it, but soon went quiet (to make matters worse, he states here that it likely won't go for awhile) and his pilot for Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" was ultimately not picked up by HBO.

Frances, Ha
Greta Gerwig On The Lack Of Films About Women
"I don't know why, but I know that they are rare, and if you want to get technical, I think women doing anything other than falling in love is underrepresented across the board," she said. "When we were writing it, the love story between Frances and Sophie emerged by itself, it wasn't an intellectual idea that we decided beforehand, it came out through the characters. It just became clear that that was the most important relationship in her life. There was just a day where it dawned on us, 'This is the story.' I'm just so glad we got to make a film with this kind of bond in it, because whenever I see female friendships portrayed accurately or even sort of accurately, I'm so pleased."

Rhythm, Editing, Rhythm, Editing
Lucky festival attendees quickly went head-over-heels for Baumbach's new jaunt, with some even proclaiming it to be his best. While that's certainly debatable, it probably does contain the most interesting, unique structure and rhythm out of all of them. "I realized more consciously when directing it and less so when writing it that it has a lot of little scenes in a row -- Frances in the super market, waiting for Sophie outside of her job, and so forth. Each moment sort of hits and comes, then suddenly there's a long scene and it plays out in real time. That goes throughout the whole movie, and I think the movie is structured by the locations, the way she keeps going to different places. So I came at it with that in mind and I think I approached specific shots or scenes in that way, in certain cases," the director stated.

And while clever jump-cutting isn't new to the Baumbach arsenal, it's a technique he further explores with 'Frances.' "It's something I started with 'Squid' and did in the following ones, the notion of coming in the middle of the scene or when a scene needs to start and end. Why you arrive at a scene when you do is interesting, and it's a big part of editing. I think the rhythms are kind of inside me and just how I feel," he explained. "When you're cutting, you just kind of feel when you wanna be in something and when you want to be out of something, and maybe that means cutting in the middle of someone's dialogue."

Frances, Ha , Adam Driver

Speaking about locations and environments, Baumbach also spoke a bit about how the Big Apple affected his new work, and also his conflicting opinion of Los Angeles that created "Greenberg." "I hadn't shot in New York in a little while, and I grew up here and live here so I wanted it to feel the way I feel about New York. I haven't ran through Chinatown holding my friend's hand laughing or peed on a subway platform, but I have that same general feeling about the place in other ways. I wanted to kind of come back here and shoot New York in a way that I connected with," he said. "The fact that it's also about location and dislocation, moving forward but also moving in place, I think all of that is true about my experiences in New York City."

There's nothing but love for NYC, but LA? Not so much. "For 'Greenberg' I really wanted to make an LA movie, and embedded in that story are inarticulated and even articulated feelings I have about Los Angeles: both great love for it, and the way that I felt not at home and alienated."

"Kicking And Screaming" And "Frances Ha": How They Compare
As the "fresh start" angle was brought up a couple of more times, the conversation switched to Baumbach's first feature, "Kicking And Screaming," which was a keen eye into a generation from one of their own. Before comparing his first and latest film, the director showed gratitude to moderator Richard Pena with a funny quip. "I thank you from saving 'Kicking and Screaming' from going straight to the USA Network! Programming it as a part of the New York Film Festival really changed the way the distributors viewed it."

With a laugh, the filmmaker then went on to compare the two experiences: "Greta has what I brought to 'Kicking.' When I watched it for the Criterion DVD, it was difficult to look at it in some ways because I couldn't help but think of what I would do differently. But some of what I think are the best things in the movie I could never do now, and I'm really glad that I was in a position at one point to do them. There's a certain spirit in it, a reporting from the inside that could only be true from someone who was 24 when they made it. With this one, I could kind of come at it both from the inside and outside, and Greta's able to do that too. I think it's reductive to look at it like she's the insider and I'm the outsider, that's just not true."

Here's the entire press conference. 

This article is related to: Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, New York Film Festival

The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.

E-Mail Updates