In short, Alexa was born in Lima, Peru. She was raised in Long Beach, California. The only daughter of six, to parents Roberto and Carmen Polar. Alexa graduated with honors from high school and was offered a scholarship for her written work. Instead of attending college, she decided to pursue a philanthropic route and attempted to sign up for the Peace Corp. Since she wasn't a full United States Citizen, Alexa decided to enlist in the military, where she served a brief but memorable term with the United States Army.
After returning home, Alexa attended college and worked as both a freelance writer and did customer service for a real estate office. From time to time, Alexa would produce documentary films for causes, to raise funding for each cause, giving 100% of the proceeds to the causes. She made these films with her film partner, Robin Pabello. She earned a degree in Paralegal studies, and worked for a law firm in the entertainment field.
With unjust circumstances out of her control, Alexa felt the need and force to start life over. As she did, she found it a surprising blessing as she was taken towards the better pathway in life that led her to meet some of the most amazing people in the industry. She studied film at Orange Coast College, where she received a scholarship under a documentary pitch competition related to social awareness.
She pitched the idea of America Foreclosed, and won. With her renewed and found connections, Alexa was able to produce her own original work in short films, and re-visit her feature length written work. Her short films have been selected for various film festivals nationwide, and her documentary short film America Foreclosed was awarded Best Documentary Short at the Film Miami Fest in 2015. Alexa is considered a philanthropist and enjoys producing films with a message.
2016 - Awarded Gold Award - California Film Awards for Speakeasy to Me
2016 - Awarded Best Student Short Film - Film Miami Fest for Speakeasy to Me
2015 - Awarded Best Documentary Short Film - Film Miami Fest for America Foreclosed
2013 - Awarded the Social Awareness Scholarship for America Foreclosed
1. How did you get started in the film industry?
When I was in high school I use to hang out with people that worked in the industry. I didn't want to hang out with my fellow classmates. Not at that moment. I was new to the school and to the area and was getting over losing my childhood home to a fire. I didn't want any attachments so I went as far as I teenager can go. I went to Los Angeles and just made friends there. When I graduated, I was approached by a talent agent, she wanted me to try acting out. She said I had a unique look because I can pass for different ethnicity. That's when I decided to step away because I wasn't an actor and wasn't planning on being one. I don't feel I have the talent for that. I joined the Army (when in actuality I wanted to join the Peace Corps). I was medically discharged and came back home with a passion to write. I wanted to tell stories. There were moments that I would take some breaks to try out various careers. I have always felt and still do, that it's important to have a fallback. I was still drawn to this industry. Not for the fame or the fortune, I was rather intrigued that I could develop content that can reach the masses. Perhaps I can educate others on what I've learned in life. It can be a substantially overwhelming thought at times. In essence, one's personal viewpoint and partially their own life experience are exposed. Of course, I'm referring to speaking from a writer’s point of view. It is your written words that can influence many and even just one. That's a great deal of responsibility to bare. Finally, my intrigue for this industry led me to I worked on a few shows as part of the creative team and I loved it. Although I was new to it all, I didn't receive the credit I deserved but did gain a substantial amount of experience. With that experience, I was able to learn that I should and can write, but that I should fight to be acknowledged as well.
2. Tell me about the TV movie, Meet Me After School (2011) and your role as creator/screenwriter with that project.
Meet Me After School was actually a series sizzle reel from the pilot. When I came up with Meet Me After School, I was inspired by current events and my nephews and nieces. During those times, schools were making major cuts in the arts and science departments. My family is mainly one of the creative minds, so it affected us. I noticed what it was taking from children, their way of expression. That's how I created the concept of Meet Me After School. A show that was giving children the freedom of expression with their own after school "program" since it was no longer provided to them by the school district. I wrote the pilot script, and a series bible/treatment/deck. I submitted it to a few reputable companies, and for the most part, they wanted to see a visual via a sizzle reel. I got together with a few people, and we began to produce the sizzle reel with major assistance from the director. I used my nephews and nieces as the talents. It was a memorable moment for all involved, and I'm still thankful for that. It's been many years and I feel the concept of the show can still be very much relatable and topical. I certainly would give it strong consideration if given the chance to revisit the idea of pitching it again.
3. Tell me about your short documentary America Foreclosed (2015). How did this come about and how was the experience?
America Foreclosed was inspired by the Great Recession of 2008, when the housing market crashed. I had family members that were both directly and indirectly affected by it. I did some research and found similarities during the Great Depression when the stock market crashed. That's when I decided to do a compare and contrast method, in the hopes of helping others so they can avoid the traps of the financial institutions. Both major crashed, people lost everything, shattering lives and tearing apart families, they lost their homes. They lost their sense of stability, that's what a home represents. A safe place. No bailouts for them, but the banks always get bailed out. I was attending Orange Coast College at the time, as a refresher into the film industry. There was a flyer offering a scholarship with the funding to go towards the documentary that had to be something related to social awareness. I pitched them the idea for America Foreclosed. I won. It was $1,000. I, along with the film partner, raised the rest. We traveled to New York, Nevada, throughout California and had a second unit in Washington State. The film did well through its festival run. It even garnered a Best Documentary Short Film award at the Film Miami Fest. It was a very serious topic and I was fortunate enough to meet some extraordinary people. Since most our funding went towards traveling and lodging, we had to work with what we had. The documentary was shot on a Canon T3i, our second unit shot it on the Canon 5D Mark II. The film looked cropped because it was shot 1080p. You can find it on America Foreclosed on Amazon.
4. You have also directed some of the projects you've written. What is the difference of writing for a project as opposed to having both roles on a project?
With Meet Me After School, I just created and wrote it. It was great watching Peter Hermes (the Director) do what he did, which was making it into a reality. There are certain projects I write, and I think, someone else needs to shoot this. I want to see how they envision it and capture it. I did my part and now I want someone else to turn it a reality. When I directed my first project, I found I enjoyed it. I relish in breaking it down and finding a different way to view my written work. I separate myself as the writer, so much so that there are times the talent is acting the part speaking words I have written and for a brief moment I have to remind myself I wrote those words coming out of their mouths. It's kind of funny because I honestly do sometimes forget a moment what I wrote because I'm so focused on directing. I don't mind writing, and just writing. It's a part of me that remains strong and consistent in my life. But I now have also found a deeper and new passion for directing. It's an appreciation towards the art form and one that's become almost an essential part of me. I want to challenge that desire within me by someday in the near future directing the written words of another writer.
5. What do you find is the biggest difference between writing for a TV movie versus writing for the BIG screen?
For me personally, the biggest difference is, for the most part, I find there is growth in Television. You have some time (if lucky) to let the characters develop and discover themselves and sometimes rediscover themselves. But there's a bit of difficulty with Television, as you have to always keep it fresh. Find new arcs while maintaining the reason the audience is there. As for the BIG screen, you have your story, the point you want to get across and have x amount of time to do so. You're mainly focused on that. There's more a difference between genres. I have the same routine for writing for both television and the big screen. I have an idea of what I want for each character and the plot.
I find it a bit less complicated writing a feature than a series. As a series, I 'm creating 10-12 stories (episodes) that need to be each appealing in its own way, without giving too much, but still linking one from the next. For example, I wrote and directed a musical short (I have the feature - the short was done for practicing and pitching purposes), entitled Speakeasy to Me. I know the storyline, the songs, the entire setup and its characters. It's based in the 1920's during the era of prohibition. I also have a Television concept series entitled John the Barber, same time era, I know the storyline, the setup, and its characters. However, I had to break it down differently because I'm slowly telling a story and inviting the audience into this barber's life. Whereas in Speakeasy to Me, I just went into it.
6. What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on this feature film that I wrote in 2016. I literally wrote the first draft in a day. Locked myself in my room and didn't come out until it was done. I didn't do it that way intentionally. I just found myself so enthralled by it that I didn't notice the time. The first draft was over 115 pages. It's currently condensed down to 104 pages, I'm still making changes here and there. I already knew who I wanted as my lead, and I was able to obtain her. It's called R Culture. The bases of R Culture was found in my frustration and anger I felt from the Brock Turner case. That case is what lead me to write this feature. It's about a woman from Spain that falls in love with an American artist. They marry and move to the States, that's when she finds out he's a serial rapist. It touches on several aspects and perceptions of rape culture, including marital rape. I'm set to direct it. I have some amazing Producers involved. It will be a major challenge for all involved, which is why I plan to have a therapist that specializes in sexual assault matters on set. I will also have one of the best stunt coordinators on set, she's simply amazing. Overall, this is probably one of my largest and most challenging projects to date. I feel truly blessed by having the amount of support that I do, and more talented cast and crew that are attaching themselves to the project. I've hit a few roadblocks and at times shouted that I wanted to give up. Yet, here I continue to be, still moving forward. I can't wait for it to be done and have a finished project that we can all be proud of.
7. What has been your greatest achievement as a screenwriter?
For starters, I simply love it when I finish a script. The first draft. Printed. Out of my system and into the world. It's so satisfying accomplishing that first completed draft. Many rewrites to be had. But it's done and out. I take a deep sigh of relief. Feel the satisfaction that I created something, even if no one ever reads it or sees it. If anyone ever asks, "what else do you have", I can proudly state exactly what I have. That's what I view as one small achievement. Actually doing it, writing it. But the greatest achievement, of course, is having your written words filmed. No matter if it is independently done or by a major company, it's getting done and that's a heck of an accomplishment.
8. What has been the greatest lesson you've learned during this journey?
Trust. It was a harsh reality and nearly ruined my life. I was scammed by someone that called himself a Producer. He provided me with a check. I deposited the check and it was in the account for nearly a month. We were in full pre-production and traveled to start filming a documentary on Occupy Movement. Right when we were getting ready to film, we got a call from the bank stating the check was washed. Almost every amount of that check was returned, as we used some of it to travel. The man that scammed me, called and demanded money to be given back because he overpaid by accident. He had no idea we already knew the check was bad. In talks with working with the bank, and one day received a call stating the scammer was caught and I needed to go in to do a lineup. But that was just a lie. There was no lineup and I ended up serving time for a crime I did not commit. All the monies were returned, including the amount used for travel. And at this point, I was being bullied by the detective that arrested me. My attorney turned into my witness when he contacted the District Attorney to ask about contact with the scammer while I was in jail. Evidence that was held that could have freed me. The detective told him to shut it and not go any further or he would ruin my life. It's taken me 5 years to finally be set free and clear my name. It became official this year. That caused me to learn who to trust in this industry and who not to trust. It also taught me about judgment. I have been judged over this event in my life. In a way, it has helped me weed out who to keep and who not to have in my life. Because most that get to know me, will see the truth and find my genuine side and it's not that person that got scammed and made out to be the bad guy. But others, few, will believe the lie and judge me on a lie. Be careful and don't let this happen to you, because the system is also very flawed.
As a woman, it's even more difficult in this world. Thankfully there's a change that's coming. We no longer will be belittled and made to feel sexualized. That's also an issue and falls with trust. Knowing what you want in life and in your choice of career is important. Not allowing anything negative impede it. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and that is the sheer truth of it all. Do your due diligence and trust your instincts.
9. Finally, if you could share some words of wisdom for a young filmmaker just starting out, what would you say?
Be aware, know who to trust and don't give up. Always film something, write something, network, network and network. I have a difficult time with the networking portion as I'm a bit of a socially awkward person. Something I'm slowly dealing with. It's important to surround yourself with people that will not hold you back, and you also should not hold anyone back either. And as females, we should always encourage each other. There are many projects out there and room for all of us. We need to rise together. Find a mentor and when the time is right, be a mentor. That's how you continue to learn! It's something that's important. Knowledge, it's very important and an ongoing part of life. With mistakes we make, we need to learn from them. Not repeating them. With repeating mistakes we only find ourselves stuck and wondering why and at times blaming others. This can ruin relationships both personally and professionally. Own up to your mistakes and learn. That's why I feel it's important to expand and find a mentor that will respect your way of seeking advice. Don't give up, and while you don't give up. Keep yourself open to other experience because you may find that you are good and that you like other aspects of your same career. As an example, how I enjoy writing but found that I also enjoy directing. Don't be afraid of criticism and no's because they are meant to build you up and make you stronger. I'll leave you with this, it's not just who you know, but what you know. Utilize both and you will be good.