Interview with Filmmaker Alexxa Walker (Phenomxnal Womxn)

“Phenomxnal Womxn” was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the May 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

In the time that I have spent living in Ghana and other places in Africa, I have had the opportunity of meeting so many phenomxnal womxn with incredible stories to tell. Women are often not given the same opportunities as men and are silenced or not taken seriously when they speak up. Creating this film was a way of providing these womxn with a platform to share their stories and inspire others as they have inspired me. I wanted to spotlight the incredible resilience that these women have in breaking boundaries and bridging the equity gap.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

In terms of filming alone, it took about 3 months to shoot this film. But if you take into account the photos that were taken and included at the end of the film as well as the time it took to build those relationships before filming took place, it took about 9 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Phenomxnal Womxn

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

This is the first film I created since I graduated from university four years ago so it took a bit of relearning to put this together.

As I do not speak Twi, which is the local Ghanaian language spoken in the film, directing a film in a foreign language came with its own set of challenges. I never knew what they were saying and oftentimes could not ask follow-up questions. I really had to trust the assistant director, videographer and sound designer, who all helped translate and ask questions. Transcribing the subtitles was also difficult – Twi does not always have direct English translations. But David, our translator and sound designer, made it work.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Watching the audience talk about my film made me feel really good. I haven’t been able to get too much feedback since our exhibition and screening was closed after the opening due to Covid-19. It was great to see what people learnt from the film and how it made them feel. I was also pleased that people from outside the Ghanaian context still deeply connected with the film. It was motivating. I feel proud of the work we did.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Ever since I was in high school and started listening to the news with my dad, I knew that I wanted to tell stories. For a long time I wanted to be a journalist. But after being rejected from my university’s Journalism program twice quickly crushed that dream. I was lucky to get into our Communications program where I specialized in video. For me, making films was a natural progression to telling stories but it is not my only way.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I have probably seen Lion King and Mean Girls the most in my life. My sister and I have a big age gap with my brothers so most of the Disney movies that we watched as kids we re-watched as teens with my brothers. Mean Girls is a classic, my sister and I had watched it on repeat as teens as well. My dad joined in some times. He’s woke.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s honestly the only one that I use so I don’t have much to compare it to. I think it is user-friendly. One thing I think can be improved is the nomination or selection page. It does notify me of which category I have been nominated in so if you have entered multiple categories that can be confusing. Other than that I haven’t had any issues with it.

9. What is your favorite meal?

As a daughter to Jamaican-Filipino parents, I love me some roti. It is usually the first and last thing I eat before entering and exiting the country. For those that don’t know what it is, roti is a Carribean street food that is made of curried meat and/or veggies wrapped in a fried flatbread. My mom makes a mean roti. Highly recommended.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working on exhibiting our second project called I Am Phenomxnal Womxn, which is a community art series that explores the identities of women in Northern Ghana through collaborative portraiture. We included a series of 4 short videos in addition to 16 portraits, which include music that we recorded in two of the communities that we collaborated with. I recently arrived in Accra, Ghana’s capital, to work on the exhibition. You can follow us @phenomxnal.womxn on social media to find out more about the project.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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