Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Alexa Morden
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into filmmaking?
I grew up in Gloucestershire, UK, and currently live in Vancouver, Canada where I’ve been for a year. I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was 3 and after graduating drama school in Manchester I moved to London where I lived and worked for 6 years. I never imagined I’d ever write or make my own work but I have always loved working on independent or collaborative projects as an actor because everyone is there for their love of storytelling and bringing a script to life. There is no hierarchy in who is involved. The people I met through work such as this made me wonder...if I were to write something would there be a chance I could get it made with little to no budget because of the connections I had? Turns out…yes!!
Why did you make your film?
In all honesty, the main reason I wrote this short was to give myself an acting job! By the time I wrote Hers, I had gone a couple of years without acting work. I had collaborated and made stuff with friends but hadn’t auditioned, been cast, and filmed in a long time. I love acting, I love being on set and if no one else was going to give me that opportunity I thought I may as well try giving it to myself!! But as soon as I thought “ok I’m actually going to do this and take the plunge” I knew I wanted to tell a story that was important to me. The content of the film was inspired by female friendship and the conversations women have that you never usually see played out on screen (until recent years when we’ve seen much more amazing, hilarious female-fronted comedy!) Katie, who co-stars in the film, and I met at an audition a few years ago and we fell hard and fast in ‘friend love’ after spending so much time together hosting a podcast we decided to start shortly after we met. Brand new female friendship in your late 20s is quite special and the conversations we’d have and the types of people we are lead to the script pretty much writing itself! I met Matt Holt, our director, on an acting job I had done a couple of years prior and we had stayed in touch. He had always been supportive and when I sent the script to him just to see what he thought he said he’d love to direct it and I couldn’t believe my luck! This film was actually going to happen!
What was your favorite part about making the film?
I think my favorite thing was the fact it actually happened!! As an actor you’re so used to things not “going your way” but being in charge of it yourself and seeing hard work pay off was wonderful. Doing this with my best friends (Katie and Crystal who was our AD) was obviously a highlight but I also really enjoyed being in the editing room. I have never been part of post-production before and it was exciting to see the words I wrote months before now being said in an actual short film. Alex Hardy is another friend of mine and a wonderful filmmaker himself and seeing him editing the film and laughing out loud at parts was really really special!
It was hard to compartmentalize…as an actor I wanted to do a good job and also because I wrote it I wanted to make it perfect (I’m a perfectionist!) and could feel myself putting the pressure on. I also had a couple of moments of wondering if the script was actually garbage…after doing lots of takes the initial confidence can wear off and second-guessing kicks in! Trying not to think of that while you’re saying the words made me get in my head a bit. As the producer I was also in charge of sorting equipment, feeding everyone, sorting out parking/location, making sure everyone was doing ok so it was a whirlwind of a shoot! Technically the filming itself wasn’t really a challenge thankfully! I knew when I was writing that if I wanted to make a film independently I had to make it as simple as possible to maximize chances of getting it on its feet…so, one location and minimal characters!
What did you learn while making it?
To not overthink and that just because you aren’t a “writer” or a “producer” doesn’t mean you can’t give it a go! Also, every experience could lead to something else in the future. I would not have been able to make this short film if I hadn’t previously collaborated with filmmakers or kept in touch with people from the crew from previous jobs. And one last thing…when you find value and worth in yourself instead of looking for validation from others and the industry (as an actor this is hard to do!) it helps you exponentially. After years of nothing, shortly after we made Hers I was given the lead role in a feature film! I am sure that this process helped with my growth as an actor, creative, and person.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the film?
That woman being funny/gross/vulgar/honest isn’t a “thing”. Just because Fleabag and Chewing Gum now exists doesn’t mean this idea is new. And it’s not going anywhere! I’d also like girls and women to watch and realize that it’s the patriarchy and patriarchal ideas portrayed in the media that lead to women being catty/bitchy/in competition with each other all the time. When we recognize that we are stronger together it opens up the opportunity for new friendships, self-love/assurance, and general badassery!
What are you working on next?
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback that people want to see more of this story and the characters and that Hers would work well as a TV series…I’m working on giving myself the push to flesh out this idea and reach out to people. It may seem far-fetched but who knows what could happen! During the COVID isolation times, I made a short film with my husband and also wrote a short radio drama. Currently, I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, I’d love to make another short! I also have a sitcom I’ve been writing for a few years that I feel needs some dusting off...
Where can we follow your work?
The podcast Katie and I have is called The 98% - a first-of-its-kind podcast that looks brutally honest at the realities of being an actor. Lots of listeners have said they loved seeing the chemistry we have on the podcast in screen form so if women talking brutally honestly and comedically in podcast form floats your boat you can find The 98% wherever you get podcasts! We also have fab guests and cover a whole range of topics so it’s not just for actors!
The podcast Katie and I have is called The 98% - a first-of-its-kind podcast that looks brutally honestly at the realities of being an actor. Lots of listeners have said they loved seeing the chemistry we have on the podcast in screen form so if women talking brutally honestly and comedically in podcast form floats your boat you can find The 98% wherever you get podcasts! We also have fab guests and cover a whole range of topics so it’s not just for actors!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for featuring Hers as short of the week! I would have never believed 2 years ago I’d be saying these words! Especially on such an important platform as Female Voices Rock, I’m beyond pleased you enjoyed Hers!