A Gal’s Guide to Making a Movie is a new weekly written series by Erin Bagwell. To view the whole series click here.
Part 21: The Paris Theater
T here are moments in a gal’s life when she feels like she is floating through a dream. When everything in the universe syncs up to be in perfect harmony.
June 9th, 2016 our premiere at the Paris Theater in New York City was one of those days.
While the moments and even hours leading up to June 9th were a blur of trying to scrape together sponsors for the premier, organizing tickets for 600 people, and coordinating non-stop with our event planner, the day itself was absolute perfection.
I jumped on the R train from Brooklyn at around 10am with my best friend John Caldwell to head into the financial district to pick up my custom made, white tie dye jumpsuit made by Mariama Camara (one of the entrepreneurs in the film). We had bagels and coffee on the train and my jumpsuit fit like a dream. We headed back to Brooklyn for a few hours of downtime before we all met at Komal’s house to get ready.
In pure Komal fashion she was hosting a bunch of friends from Canada who came down to see the film and had a full house of excitement and energy. Her and I took the train around 11pm the night before to see our name in lights on the marquee but it wasn’t up yet. I went back to Brooklyn to try to sleep, and she stayed in Manhattan patiently awaiting the gorgeous signage that would illuminate 5th avenue.
John did our hair, and my other close friend Ashley Frato came over to do our makeup. Komal’s house bustled with about six other people floating around getting ready. Her boyfriend Mitch popped a bottle of champagne, while a reporter from the Style Line followed Komal and I around taking photos and asking us questions. I felt calm, glamourous, and in sync with the universe.
After getting ready for a few hours we all walked to the subway and took the F train to 57th street. Komal and I sat next to each other on the train and chatted like two ladies going to lunch. She wore a gorgeous deep purple and gold sari, with her hair up and a red lip. She looked like a movie star.
When we got off the train we walked towards the theater, and my heart started to race. We would soon see Dream, Girl on the marquee as well as a 15 foot red carpet that bled into 5th avenue. I let Komal and Diana from our team lead the way hand-in-hand and I braced myself for emotional overload. But when I saw how gorgeous and incredible everything looked I just felt a rush of gratitude. It was perfect.
Our event planner met us in front of the theater with a frenzy of questions and energy, but Komal and I possessed a strange calm of women who were born for this. Komal went to the ticket table and organized everyone’s admissions, and I went to the red carpet to start ushering people through the line.
The Paris Theater has a small sidewalk area in front of it, and sits in between two businesses so space for photos is really limited,and to be able to have a red carpet we actually had to get a permit from NYC to be able to block off part of 5th avenue so we could use the space to take photos in front of the theater. We chose intentionally to go big and have a 15-foot red carpet with lights, a step and repeat, and professional photographers because we wanted our Kickstarter audience to feel like fucking movie stars. We wanted to give them an experience they would never forget.
I remember a security guard coming up to me and saying “you think you are going to let 600 people walk the red carpet in an hour?” And I said, “yup” and he was like “OK” – they thought we were nuts. No one else had ever done anything like this. But we did, and it was awesome.
600 fans, friends, supporters, and Kickstarter backers walked a 15 foot red carpet in the middle of 5th avenue. It was really something to see. I manned my place in the corner of the carpet and would walk people through the line to make sure they got their photo taken.
Our friend and fellow SuperSoul-er Ingrid Nilsen was the last person to walk the carpet. At that point everyone was seated and in the theater, eating popcorn and waiting for us to start the movie. Ingrid was stuck in traffic so when she got to the theater she jumped out, we snapped a photo and then Komal and I rushed into the theater to grab some popcorn and take our seats.
When we walked into the theater the entire place lit up with applause and I looked around in confusion— until I realized they were applauding for us. Our audience was welcoming us into this gorgeous space.
In the middle of March our event planner took Komal, Diana and I all around the city to look at locations for the premier. We looked at big beautiful lofts, DIY venues, and even inside the Met but when we walked into the Paris theater and I could smell the butter of the popcorn I knew this was our place.
A film screening was just ending that afternoon and the daytime audience was trickling out of the theater. I went downstairs to get us a big bag of buttery popcorn and then peaked my head into the room to see what the theater looked like. I felt like cupid had struck me with an arrow. The theater was stunning. Plush grey seats, big dramatic purple curtains framing the screen, and old New York songs played over the loudspeaker. This was it. I chomped down on the delicious popcorn and took a seat in the balcony soaking up the glamorous old school hollywood vibes of the theater. This was it.
I looked over at Komal and Diana and their eyes all said the same thing. We found our venue.
I felt a moment of intense feeling of serenity. Komal, Diana and I all sat together eating popcorn and watching the credits of a film we don’t know the name of scroll on screen.
Just a couple of girls who believed not only in the power of sharing women’s stories but believed in themselves to do it. Who took enormous risks, worked their asses off, and made sacrifices that would put us on Oprah’s radar, get us at the White House, and have us premiere our first film in New York City.
And even though in a lot of ways this felt like the end of something great, it was also the beginning of a new phase of the film we would never see coming- the joy of connecting with our audience. Never in my wildest dreams that I think the film would have such an incredible and global impact.
In our first year after the premiere Dream, Girl would go be screened globally by 240 hosts around the world. During the November 2016 election, we would release the film online for 5 days and over 14K people in 81 different countries tuned in to see it.
Dream, Girl, in many ways, wouldn’t exist without the love and support of our audience, who we call our tribe. They are the women who see us, who uplift us, and who motivate us to be better. I can’t wait to keep creating for you.
Until the next movie.
Komal, Erin, and Diana at the Paris Theater for the first time.