Sammie Lei, thanks for taking this interview. Love you Youtube channel. https://youtube.com/channel/UCkjOFGdfJiJrbPLZBzC18qA Your bio: Sammie Lei is an English actress turned independent film maker based in the London area. Born in Hanover west Germany, she moved to England at 2 years old and studied performing arts from the age of 7 -18 which also included Dance. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm7656569/ Most of my readers will not know you. Can you please tell the story of how you got into acting and where you are currently at?
When I was at school, my favourite subject was drama it was the only subject that I got the highest score in GCSE.
I had plans to go on to sixth form drama. Then hopefully college or some kind of drama school. Unfortunately, the situation at home wasn’t too great.
From the age of 2 to 14, my stepfather abused me. My mum knew things were going on. But she was never the maternal type. She worked a lot. So she would leave my stepfather to be the one to give out the discipline.
By the time I got to 14 I had learnt that the stuff my stepfather was doing was not right and I run away from home this lead on to me eventually going to have to live with my actual father
He was an alcoholic and had nothing to do with me as a child. He had a new family, with four children. The house was cramped. When my father drank, he got violent. I only stayed with him about 4 months.
I went back to my mothers for a while. Then social services moved me into a children’s home.
I stayed at a couple of homes throughout the early years of my teenage life and by the time I got to 17. I decided I wanted out. I found a job on the stage magazine. This is the days before the internet. The advertisement was for a dancer. They paid for your flights and accommodation. It sounded like a dream come true. They would finally pay me for doing a job that I loved and travel.
Once I was out in Greece. Everything was great for about 2 weeks. Then I was pushed. To do more than dance. It was a scary time. When I returned to England, I was no longer the same person. Not long after met with with an old flame from school. And within a few months I was expecting my first child.
I was only 17, but I felt that this is what I needed for a family of my own.
Once you have a child, you kind of give up your own dreams. You have to be unselfish, and some mornings you don’t even have time to do your hair.
My life became all about my child and I stayed single until I got to about 21.
When I met my daughter’s father. The situation with him is not something I want to go into because it’s another story on its own. But it led to me becoming a single mother for 14 years. During that time, I took to writing. Mostly about my past and how my life had led me to the point I was at.
A few years went by and my children grew up.
I decided I wanted to take up some kind of hobby. I looked into adult drama schools. This also seemed to be a brick wall. As most drama schools cut you off at 18. Unless you do higher education courses. Which cost thousands, not something a single mother could achieve.
Then one night as if by luck I saw an advert for a film group based in My City. So I booked a slot to see what it was all about. The idea was to collaborate with groups of people in around Milton Keynes. Who wanted to make films.
Unfortunately, some members were not very welcoming. So I created my group for aspiring actors. Who wanted to collaborate to get footage for their show reels and such like.
The first film that I worked on Roofied was a hard hitting Portrayal of the UK sex trafficking industry.
I had many experiences working out in Greece, and I witnessed things that no 17-year-old should see.
My experiences opened up my eyes to the world we live in, especially after dark.
I didn’t have the budget to create a film over in Greece and bring the true story to life.
So I decided to recreate the story based in the UK.
Sex trafficking is one of the biggest issues EVERY government faces.
Roofied is based on a young woman named Lucy. She is working as a dancer. Who is slowly lured into the sex trafficking trade, unwilling to succumb to the traffickers demands she leads a fight for control of her life.
Ms. Lei, can you tell us that one story you wish everyone knew about yourself? You know the one that if you had to introduce yourself to people that story?
We were successful enough to get Roofied published on to Amazon Prime last year.
I was thrilled as I never thought this could be a possibility for an independent filmmaker.
Unfortunately, not everybody in our group was supportive of the project. We had to ask a few people to leave through production.
This caused endless re-writes. And stress, but we worked hard as a team each time to fix the issue.
Some of these people have gone on to troll me for the past 2 years.
Writing endless nasty comments about my work. The way I look. Yet these people still have time to watch the films we make and leave nasty comments.
I realised I was not the only person dealing with the so called Trolls of the net. So I made a film called cyber stalked. Which explained to new filmmakers just how dangerous the independent film industry could be. Especially for a woman. It shares my experiences and how I ended up trusting the wrong people. When they couldn’t get their own way. They tried to damage me in the public, emotionally mentally and physically.
I have learned a lot about the world of the trolls, ghost accounts, and catfish. It’s a world I choose not to give any more energy to.
Ms. Lei the classic question: what charity do you work with and can you provide a link to it so others can see too please.
Christmas last year we raised money for make-a-wish foundation.
Ms.Lei can you talk about other film projects.
When we recreated the film Rumpelstiltskin with a little of a twist. It was from the version of a grandpa who was reading to his granddaughter. We cast people that look similar to the Disney characters. We brought in people like Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Red Riding Hood to create a kind of spoof of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales version.
The movie was lots of fun and everybody involved was amazing.
The movie made me realize that before you even think about starting a project. You have to get to know the people that you’re going to work with. And you have to rely on the people. That you trust with your script.
Ms. Lei, you are filming on set. Can you talk about what you are doing and share any trailors or teasers for my readers?
We have made a few projects over the past 2 years and this year we are starting our new Thriller A Deadly Trio
it’s not as dark as the Roofied film but it’s an adult rating.
Most of the actors in Deadly Trio appeared in Roofied. We are also bringing on a few fresh faces.
I can’t say much about this project at the moment as we will film up till next year,
I am collaborating with horror filmmaker Jason Impey who I went to school with and who also was the first dop on Roofied back in 2017; we aim to have the Trailer out by Christmas 2021.
The independent film industry can be a shark tank. These days I work with people who come recommended to me or who I have worked with before.
Ms. Lei, what genre of movies are you into or would you say you want to be a part of? What scripts or movies do you have a desire to read or produce or perform in you?
I enjoy all genres of movies depending on what mood I’m in and who I’m watching the movie with.
I’m not into the zombie Walking Dead type horror films. They Gross me out.
I have starred in a few horror movies and had to lie in pools of blood whilst my guts come out of my stomach and I’ve also played the part of a cannibal, whatever it takes.
Ms. Lei, during this time of lockdown these interviews are to help people find new books, movies, etc to look into. What has been your entertainment or what books/movies would you suggest
Over lockdown I watched quite a few movies I rnjoyed Harlottes which is a series about a brothel back in the 1600s.
Rewatched a series that I love Game of Thrones.
Also I enjoy anything to do with history.
I get little time to read. I’m editing or writing or filming.
Ms. Lei, please tell my reader about each of your movies and provide links to the movies you are in.
I started off as an actress working in a children’s theme park.
I then moved on to acting in independent films.
I then made my first film, Roofied collaborating with like-minded Talent.
The success of the film on Amazon led to me wanting to do more films, and now we continue with Deadly Trio.
Ms. Lei what is your favorit part of the movie process. Youa re a writer, actress film producer.
My favourite part of the whole film process is the editing
I love the directing and producing part and being on set, but the best time is when you’re warm at home bringing the magic together on your editing suite.
. Then the next best thing is sharing the film with your cast and crew having photos on the red carpet and knowing that you and the team achieved another dream.
It takes a lot of trust, reliability, and hard work for a production team to finish a film.
If one thing goes wrong, it’s like a domino effect and it affects the entire project.
When everybody in the team does their bit, it creates magic..
That’s what I love BEST about filmmaking.
Ms. Lei, what is your dream project? With whom do you want to work with or if you start to direct what genre of work or film project would your future projects be or what type of movies?
If I could work with anybody in the world, it would have to be Morgan Freeman all Meryl Streep Nicole Kidman, but my number one idol has to be Bette Midler She’s AMAZING.
Hocus Pocus I never tire of watching.
I would love to work on a period drama. Or something like Game of Thrones would amazing. But the green screen in CGI and budget that studio has is something I know I’m extremely far away from budget wise at this time.
I’m more likely to see an actual live Dragon….. but Everybody’s Got to Have a Dream.
I have attached a link to my YouTube channel where we store some movies we have produced and we will continue to upload all the work that our production team creates in the future
As a filmmaker I feel that I still have a lot to learn but making movies low budget has brought me further to my dream then I ever imagined.
Independent Filmmaker & Actress
Ms. Lei, what question do you wish I had asked? And what is the answer to that question?