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Go-getting actress turned director Sunnie Sidhu ‘doesn’t sit around waiting for breaks’

PUBLISHED: 19:43 27 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:07 28 April 2016

Aylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie Le

Aylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie Le

Sophie Le Copyright 2016

Sunnie Sidhu graduated as an actress but she soon learned she needed to make her own opportunities to survive in the movie business.

"The reason I write and direct is there aren’t many opportunities for ethnic minorities in front of the camera"

Sunnie Sidhu

She firmly believes in the importance of creating your own opportunities and doing things to get yourself noticed.

She’s currently training with an east London athletics team hoping to make it to the Rio Olympics, aiming to make as realistic as possible the short movie she’s directing about a young Syrian boy who meets a 2016 hopeful.

But the 34-year-old, of Dalston, was an actress before she embarked on filmmaking, graduating with a Master’s from Drama Centre London along with the likes of Tom Hardy, Amelia Clarke and Michael Fassbender.

She said: “I’m still an actress and go to auditions, but I think it’s important to do a bit of everything.

Aylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie LeAylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie Le

“The reason I write and direct is there aren’t many opportunities for ethnic minorities in front of the camera, so I thought I’d get involved behind and try and create more opportunities.”

Sunnie’s go-getting attitude spurred her to write and direct an online sitcom series called Camden Calling after she graduated, about a bunch of freelancing 20-something friends trying to make a name for themselves – which helped her secure work with Hat Trick Productions.

It was her first go at trying to direct something herself, and as well as earning her rent money it taught her valuable lessons.

“It’s hard work trying to shoot something on your own merit, and I learned blagging skills – that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s really important to engage with the community and there are kind people out there who will champion you.

Aylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie LeAylam in The Runner, played by Rubin Falcao, age 15, photo Sophie Le

“It’s important to make your own work – to get yourself noticed and try and create your own break instead of waiting for one to happen.”

Her latest work, The Runner, is a short film focusing on a young Syrian refugee who has arrived alone in London and befriends an athlete at the track in Mile End Stadium, where it is filmed.

Sunnie has been training for five months in one-to-one sessions with Chris Zah, voted best European track and field coach in 2013, who appears in the 17-minute film as himself.

She has observed him training the Mile End Camp team who are also featured in the film – including Perry Shakes Drayton and Richard Strachan – to get an idea of the “dramatic tension in a race”, and the psychology of an athlete first-hand.

Sunnie hopes to “humanise the refugee situation by telling an individual story” in the film, which is promoting awareness of the Refugee Council’s work with children.

The filmmaker and her team are shooting at locations around Hackney and at Mile End Stadium at the end of next month, and are looking to raise £10,000 for the shoot via Kickstarter..

See therunnerfilm.co.uk for more details


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