“Dream, Girl” director Erin Bagwell is showcasing female entrepreneurs in her new film. (Photo: Patrick McMullen)
Celebrities Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Laverne Cox, and Marisa Tomei showed up to watch the world premiere of Ricki & the Flash on this week in New York City. But before they kicked back with soda and popcorn, Clinique (in partnership with TED) debuted a video featuring Erin Bagwell, as part of its Smart Ideas campaign: A search to bring the next smart idea to life. The Dream, Girl documentary director showcases strong, smart, ambitious females in her upcoming film. TED and Clinique are also encouraging women to submit their own game-changing ideas via Clinique.com from now until September 30 — the winner will receive $20,000 to make her dream a reality.
Bagwell says we often cite names like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg when we think of the CEO role, so she was inspired to celebrate and showcase all the female leaders flying under the radar. “I was running a feminist blog called Feminist Wednesday,” says Bagwell. “We shared stories of women artists and entrepreneurs. Women are starting 1,200 companies a day, which is almost double what men are starting. We don’t hear their stories. I wanted to give women more diverse examples of role models showing what it means to be a leader.”
The film features more than a dozen women who have started their own businesses and organizations, from non-profits to fashion companies. They blog, and they are angel investors. The ladies run 3D printing manufacturers that service major corporations, and they lead oil companies. Aside from intelligence and determination, the film’s subjects have other things in common.
“A lot of these women had been in situations where they hit a glass ceiling or they weren’t being taken seriously in their craft,” says Bagwell. “They were sick of it.” She notes that many were working just as hard — or harder — than their male co-workers, but they were not making the same amounts of money.
Personally, Bagwell faced sexism in the workplace before quitting her job and starting her passion project. “A lot of the women felt that if they were going to strive, make money, and be happy, they had to do it themselves.”
She hired an all-female crew to shoot the documentary, and the group was open to chatting about important issues. “We’re sitting in a room, and we’re interviewing these really inspiring women,” says Bagwell. “At the end of that, I would open it up to questions. We became this little community/family. It was really fun to have those conversations after hours and have everyone really involved.”
From the beginning, the film gathered a great deal of support – morally and financially – with an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. “I was meeting all of these entrepreneurs. They’re amazing – all the ones that we interviewed. I knew I wanted to do [a film] about them. I didn’t know how to fund that,” Bagwell recalls. “I didn’t have access to investors or people with tons of capital. I thought crowd funding was the way to reach our audience and also raise the money to produce the film.” The fundraising began in August last year and ran for 30 days. Within the month, the team collected more than $100,000. Additional funds, to finish the film, came from an angel investor.
Not only did Bagwell’s initiative gain the attention of donors, Clinique sought her out. “The other women [associated with the campaign] are TED fellows. I think somebody threw my name in the hat, and here we are!”
Dream, Girl is Bagwell’s first film and is currently in post-production. She will submit the documentary to Sundance Film Festival with hopes of being featured. “Fingers crossed Sundance will be the premiere,” says Bagwell. This won’t be the last piece of work coming from the filmmaker. She is strategizing to produce other documentaries and a feminist romantic comedy. “I’m so excited for the stories and the potential.”
Check out a preview of Dream, Girl below.