2015 is looking like a great year to be a feminist! A crop of inspiring and empowering new voices are emerging, and Erin Bagwell‘s is one of them. Bagwell is the co-founder of the Kickstarter-funded film Dream, Girl, a documentary that celebrates female entrepreneurship. Its ultimate goal is to inspire women to pursue their dreams.
The film is mid-production, so we took this unique chance to talk with Bagwell about the Dream, Girl project’s evolution and what it’s like being on set. Check out what she had to say below.*:
(KS) Dream, Girl is a groundbreaking project that features female entrepreneurs telling their own stories. How and when did you realize that this group was underrepresented in the media?
(EB) I have always been on the search for strong female role models in the media because I grew up wanting to create films, all while knowing there weren’t a lot of women producing and directing them. I remember in college there was a women’s film festival in Buffalo that I went to every year to satiate my desire for women-created films, because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.
A lot of people don’t realize how subconscious gender roles can be. I believe there is real power in seeing someone like yourself in a field. If there is only one girl in a classroom full of boys taking a test, her scores are lower than if she takes a test in a room with both genders present. Her test scores suffer because she doesn’t feel like she belongs, therefore she must not be qualified to be there.
This same message permeates in the professional world. When it comes to choosing a career, we need to see it to believe it. That’s the main message in Dream, Girl- you may not realize it, but you already have what it takes to be successful. You have the tools, you have the power, you just need to discover it in yourself. We are giving you that extra push to dream bigger.
(KS) The film industry is notorious for its underrepresentation of women, particularly on screen. What’s it like being on a predominately female set with a predominantly female cast?
(EB) Honestly, I have never worked with a more collaborative team. Being able to tell empowering women’s stories alongside a team of brilliant female producers has been incredible. It’s hands down an incredibly surprising and life changing experience, because all of us went on our own journey during the interview process.
(KS) You’ve said that your goal for the project is to show women what leadership and entrepreneurship look like, from women who are living it. Is this goal changing as the project develops?
(EB) You know, when I first wrote the interview questions and began wireframing for the film I thought I wanted to focus on things like how to run a business and the nuts and bolts of being a leader. But as we progressed and heard the journeys of the incredible women we interviewed, the story shifted to being more about following your inner voice and learning to listen to your instincts. And what’s cool is that you don’t have to be a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur to learn to listen to yourself or surround yourself with a positive network. The film is becoming more universally empowering, using the journeys of inspiring female entrepreneurs to communicate these messages.
(KS) What are some challenges that you’ve faced during production, and how did you overcome them?
(EB) I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of actual physical work we had to do to set up production. Mary and I would load in a truck every week to bring our video equipment to the next location. It was grueling to plan the logistics and move the gear from one location to the next. Being in charge of thousands of dollars of rented equipment was a strange and exhilarating feeling. In between sets it would live in my tiny Brooklyn apartment, much to the dismay of my fiancee Sal and our cat Lucy.
(KS) What’s the most fun memory you have from set so far?
(EB) The most fun memory on set so far was interviewing the crew. At the end of our three weeks of interviewing entrepreneurs, I asked each crew member about the process and what they had learned from all the amazing entrepreneurs we talked to. It was really fun to hear their experience and what they had learned.
(KS) What advice would you give to women who are hoping to become leaders and entrepreneurs?
(EB) Surround yourself with people who believe in your mission, and if you don’t already have one, find a network that you can feed off of and draw inspiration, advice, and support from. There will be people in your life who won’t understand your journey and will think you are crazy, but listen to your instincts and trust your gut.
Start small, begin with a simple step and set realistic goals for yourself —remember, nothing comes to life overnight. Celebrate all the little wins and hurdles you have climbed. Make lots of mistakes early so you can modify your ideas and learn from these obstacles. Dream enormously. Meditate, create a dream board, visualize your success, and don’t give up. You got this.
*This interview has been edited for length
This amazing movie is set to be released in Fall 2015. Follow the “Dream, Girl” story on Twitter here. (Photos courtesy of Erin Bagwell.)