Joe Swanberg (born August 31, 1981) is an American independent film director, producer, writer, and actor. Known for micro-budget films which make extensive use of improvisation, Swanberg is considered a major figure in the mumblecore film movement. His films often focus on relationships, sex, technology, and the filmmaking process, and he is credited with launching the careers of Lena Dunham, Greta Gerwig, and The Duplass Brothers.
Swanberg was born in Detroit, Michigan, and was raised in Georgia and Alabama. He graduated from Naperville Central High School in suburban Chicago and attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a film major, earning a bachelor's degree in 2003.
In 2005, Swanberg directed his first feature film, Kissing on the Mouth, for a modest budget. He followed it with LOL (2006), which marked Swanberg's first time working with actress Greta Gerwig. Gerwig and Swanberg collaborated on the director's next two features: Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007), which also starred filmmakers Andrew Bujalski, Ry Russo-Young, and Mark Duplass and marked Swanberg's first collaboration with animator and actor Kent Osborne; and Nights and Weekends (2008), on which Gerwig shared a directing credit. Swanberg's next feature, Alexander the Last, was produced by Noah Baumbach, who would later cast Gerwig opposite Ben Stiller in his 2010 film Greenberg.