DEAFNESS, mental health and one woman’s connection to karate all find themselves in a coming-of-age film inspired by the writer-director’s friend who lost her hearing as a teenager.

Just a Girl follows a young deaf woman who is desperate to be heard when she falls in love.

An ex-karate champion, like the writer Claudia Mckell in real life, the misunderstood character is trying to figure out adulthood as a 23-year-old university graduate while losing her hearing.

The fictional character is the same age as performing arts professional Claudia, who spent more than a year writing the script which she hopes to bring to life through a £5,000 crowdfunding bid.

Halstead Gazette:

A headshot of actor, director and choreographer Claudia Mckell

The ex-Colchester Sixth Form College student said: “When I wrote the script, I remember telling my dad no-one will understand it but once I shared the campaign on Facebook, so many people came to me.

“At my karate club one of the girls is deaf, which I never realised, so we spoke about her experiences.

“Karla Marie, who is from Colchester and had lost her hearing, came on board as a script consultant and I realised there’s this whole world people aren’t focusing on.

“It’s quite isolating not having your hearing and not being able to communicate the same as others or in a way they can understand.”


The film was inspired by Claudia’s childhood in Goldhanger, Maldon, and attending karate classes, which she abandoned for dance as a youngster because the sport was not then part of the Olympics.

It also features both her own and friend Rachael Well’s, 22, hearing difficulties.

Rachael’s hearing loss was caused by mitochondrial disease, a range of conditions which stem from genetic mutations.

Although there are times she cannot walk, Claudia said it was her lack of hearing which hinders her the most.

Halstead Gazette:

A childhood photo of Claudia and friend Rachael 

“Her cochlear implants are the first thing people see and they don’t ask what they are, they just stare.

“I wrote a song about it but because I’m more of a singer than a songwriter I wanted to write a script.

“People also think deaf people can’t listen to music but Rachael’s favourite music is heavy metal.”

And as a dance teacher, Claudia has developed her own method of choreography, but not to music.

She cannot because an operation as a toddler meant she lost the part of her hearing responsible for hearing the tone of a sound.

Choreography is practised to the lyrics rather than the beat of a song.


She said: “I couldn’t tell you how I sing. Certain pitches and accents I can’t hear, or if a voice is in the lower ranges.

“I’d never really discussed what happened with my mum so I asked her how it felt for her to discover I could’ve potentially been deaf, and she broke down.”

Just a Girl aims to create a more realistic and relatable narrative about the deaf community as well as promoting women in sport, especially with karate making its first appearance at the 2020 Olympics.

Claudia, who does classes as much as she can, said: “Karate is not just a sport, I’ve learnt so many life lessons about self-discipline and how you approach failure.”

The film is in the funding stage and there are still two spots available for lead characters.

There are also opportunities for students who would like to work on set, and businesses with regards to sponsorship and product placement.

Contact Claudia Mckell at

Click here to sponsor the project.