A Gal’s Guide to Making a Movie, Part 2: The Fear


A Gal’s Guide to Making a Movie is a written series by Erin Bagwell the director of Dream, Girl and the founder of Feminist Wednesday. To view the whole series click here.

Part Two: The Fear

Once the idea has graced you with it’s presence it doesn’t take long before the fear to set in. The fear of the unknown, the fear of being laughed at, the fear of being misunderstood, the fear it’s not good enough, and the fear of logistics- how do I even get this thing started?

Fear and creativity always do this dance, when you get a burst of brilliant light to is inevitably followed by a murky shadow of fear. And fear can be very paralyzing, which is why I think the best way to get around this sense of doom is to make sure not to overwhelm yourself, especially in the beginning.

People always ask me what they should do when they get an idea, and I always tell them to do the smallest thing imaginable to get you on the path.

What is the easiest, tiniest, simplest thing you can do to walk in the direction of your dream?

Think about it and then write it down. Seriously, if you have an idea write it down now! That’s one small, tiny, simple way to get started by making your pen and paper your co-conspirators in the idea. Because the thing is once you start moving in the direction of your dream, there is a momentum that builds around you that keeps you in motion.

The first thing I did when I got the idea for Dream, Girl was google it. I assumed someone was making a documentary about female entrepreneurs already. I searched the internet and didn’t find anything noteworthy which both puzzled and excited me- it meant my idea was original.

The idea for my film came to me like a bright light. I was drinking coffee at home, somewhere between self-employed and unemployed (more on that later), thinking about ways to monetize Feminist Wednesday, and then the idea light up my soul like a firework.

The second thing I did after google it was nothing. I let the idea simmer.

In my experience good ideas aren’t easy breezy, meaning they don’t just flutter away but they stick to your mouth like peanut butter. They are hard to cleanse. So I let the idea simmer. If it was a good one it would stick to my soul, and would be hard to ignore.

A Gal in Her Pajamas

I wrote in Part One: The Idea that big beautiful ideas magnetize to you when you are open to receive them- and, girls, was I ready to magnetize.

The year before the ideation of Dream, Girl was one of the hardest emotional years of my life. I was working a 9 to 5 at a job I loathed so much I would give myself anxiety attack to get out of spending the whole day at my computer doing nothing.

I was an interactive designer at a paper company that was too old fashioned to push their digital services. So I spent about a year working on pitches I would create to give myself something to do. I would come into work, assign myself some tasks to do, execute them, and present them to my superiors who wouldn’t do anything with them, then I would go back to my desk and do it over and over and over again.

I’m an ambitious work horse and if I don’t have anything to work on I basically go insane. I love deadlines, I love big audacious projects, and I love going above and beyond. This job was basically my living nightmare.

But wait there was more!

On top of being totally bored and unseen professionally my female colleagues and I were also being sexually harassed by our superiors. My boss once said “I looked so good that day that he almost broke his neck looking at me,” and our CEO use to walk around and creepily touch the shoulders of all the young women in our office. When we heard his voice coming we would pull our chairs into our cubicles to try to hide from him.

I also found out later that the guy who worked above me made twice as much as I did- which would be fine if he did any work. While he watched soccer on his screen for hours (I wish I was kidding) I ran our department, I managed our client lists (when they came in) and assigned tasks to our production designers. I did his job and my job, for half the pay.

As you can imagine this job wasn’t a great experience, and when the New Year rolled around I made a pact to myself to get out of it. I didn’t want to be stuck there another day let alone another year.

But the perfect exit opportunity doesn’t always present itself, sometimes when you can’t find a door you have to take a window...