Magda Olchawska Filmmaking

Magda Olchawska, London based writer, director and filmmaker talks about the process of making her political thriller, Anna and Modern Day Slavery.


Tell us about your film 

“Anna & Modern Day Slavery” is a crime thriller about Anna, young woman running an underground organization that exposes corruption amongst Europe’s financial & political elite. Anna’s current investigation into sex & human trafficking across Europe leads her to Poland, where Sasha, her inside contact, sets her on an unexpected trail of discovering horrific truths connecting traffickers with European business and governing bodies.

To keep on top of things, Anna recruits Pawel, a talented researcher, who unwillingly gets entangled into the unstoppable current of events.

Do you remember the first time this subject lit your fire? What was the inciting incident? 

A lot, in a way “random”, incidents came storming at the same time: there were films, books and articles. However, what tipped the scale was a conversation I had on twitter with an activist, who worked towards making the general public more aware of domestic human trafficking. After talking to her, I knew I had to do something to help. 

As a storyteller, I know how to tell stories, so I decided to make a short film about sex trafficking. However, the more I wrote, the bigger the story was growing. At some point, I simply knew I couldn’t possibly tell Anna’s story in ten minutes. 

What was the point when you knew you would make it? The point of no return if we’re sticking with screenwriting analogies.

Since I knew I would struggle to get traditional funding for “Anna & Modern Day Slavery”, I decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign to get the production funded. Once the campaign was live, I knew I made a real commitment to anyone supporting that project and regardless how much money I was going to collect, I was going to turn this story into a film.

What were your main obstacles, internal and external?

The biggest obstacle was funding. At first, I was afraid we weren’t going to have enough to cover the production costs. Once we got the money, I was afraid it wouldn’t stretch far enough. 

During the production, we couldn’t get Pawel, one of the main characters, for the whole shoot. This created huge shooting obstacles for us, and the entire schedule needed to be re-adjusted. 

In the post-production, I had problems with the sound, which needed to be manually synchronized with every single take. That took forever. Also, because we only had nine shooting days, I didn’t have as much footage as I wanted and needed. So I had to be very creative with what I had. That resulted in the final version of the film being well under 90 mins long.

What was your favourite part of the process? A moment when your mission felt complete, even if it was just for one second.

My favourite part is always a production. I love being on the set. I love the constant buzz and craziness of the actual shooting, even the tiredness that comes with it doesn’t bother me. 

However, the most completed I felt when I eventually had the final cut in my hand. 

It was a pretty long journey. I started writing the script in 2011 and uploaded the final version of Anna & Modern Day Slavery to YouTube in 2018. (Before the YouTube premiere, I tried film festivals and was locked in a six months contract with a distributor.

Where can we watch your film?

You can watch “Anna & Modern Day Slavery” on YouTube. From the very start of the project, I wanted to make the film as accessible as possible, and I believe this is where Anna’s story belongs. 

Thanks for reading – another early and far too short interview with an incredible woman. Check out more about Magda here on her website.