A Gal's Guide to Making a Movie, Part 12: The Office


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 Twelve: The office

When I first got funding to make Dream, Girl, I didn’t factor in a place to work on the film. I figured I could work and edit in my one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. However after about five months of being at home, I started to go insane. Some people are work from home people, some people are not. I am the latter.

Being at home was hard for me because for starters, I live in a shoebox, and when I mean shoebox I’m not being modest. My entire apartment is less the 400 square feet. I tried to be one of those coffee shop working-people but I could never motivate myself to actually leave my apartment and spend $5 on an ice coffee in a mason jar.

So I would end up at home and pretty miserable in the day-to-day work once the on-set filming was complete. I thought about going to a co-working space but honestly, I just felt too guilty about spending money I didn’t have. Would it be worth it? I wasn’t sure- but I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing.

So I bucked up and went out in search of spaces to work.

I ended up renting a desk at the #chargingbull WeWork in the Financial District. I thought I would make the small investment in the work space and if I didn’t like it, my apartment was waiting for me. Sal helped me lug my computer in from Brooklyn, and I brought with me a tiny plant and a stack of post-its to get to work.

Getting out of my house was one of the best decisions I ever made on this journey. Once I went into my office, I took on the aura of a real-life business woman. I got out of my pajamas, I took more meetings, and I felt more confident. It was an upgrade- this wasn’t just a tiny idea out of my apartment any more, I was a legit one-woman show with a desk near Wall Street.

The editing process in the beginning was really methodical. I have been editing since I was 16 years old so it’s a process that feels both familiar and new all at the same time- I know what I’m doing but you never know where the footage is going to take you.

For Dream, Girl I dissected my footage by character. I would watch the interviews and mark each section in two ways: first by emotion on the timeline and then in a Google Doc by topic.

Footage that was FIRE was red, important was orange, and basic was blue. Then based on the color of the clips I would write down “RED: self-sabotage, Orange: family leave,” etc.. I kept a running tally on the doc of the different themes and topics the entrepreneurs would talk about. I also had all the interviews transcribed so I could see their interviews in writing.

I don’t have a real explanation of the red/orange/blue emotional breakdown other than to say I’m an emotional editor and I trust my gut. The audience wants to be transported so as an editor, it’s my job to try to get you to sink into the story. I followed that instinct to try to capture those authentic moments for the film during the production process.

Something that surprised me in the editing room was the realization that the interviews you got on set aren’t always the interviews you get on film, meaning that you never knew how a person’s energy would translate on camera.

While watching Annie Wang’s interview at my little co-working desk at WeWork I surprised myself by breaking down into tears after watching her whole story. Even though she was kind of a shy person on set I was blown away by how much power and grace she possessed on screen. Because of that connection, I knew in my heart she would be a central character very early on in the process.

Part of me wishes I could tell you the post-production process of Dream, Girl was quiet and reflective time where I got to dive into the stories of these women but the universe had other plans for us.

Something outside our control was-a-brewing.