To say Ama Lea is a force to be reckon with in the horror industry would be an understatement. She is an accomplished horror photographer who has photographed such horror icons as Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Danielle Harris, Barbra Crampton, and Stuart Gordon. She has had her photography featured in Fangoria and Blumhouse.com and to promote Women in Horror Month she is selling prints of her photography and donating ALL proceeds to Planned Parenthood for the month of February. Ama’s passions extend beyond just photography, as she has directed and written her own horror shorts. Ama is a staple within the horror community as well as an inspiration for women who are interested in the genre.
NC: What drew you into the horror genre?
AL: I started watching horror movies when I was about four years old. I rented Monster Squad almost every day at the local video store until finally they just gave my family the copy. I got in trouble in school in first grade for making Monster Squad Fan Fiction haha. I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t into horror.
NC: As you know, February is Women in Horror Month. What does being a woman in the horror genre mean to you?
AL: It means a lot of things! I love being a part of this culture. Horror fans are the coolest, most loyal and dedicated people in the world. Especially living in Los Angeles where we actually have a social group of horror writers, actors, directors, etc. Living here it means having a support system for all my creative endeavors. Unfortunately, on a broader spectrum it also means being in the minority. I truly think every year when Women in Horror Month rolls around we raise awareness and bring more ladies into the fold. Girls who love horror are out there, they are still learning that this culture and fandom exists.
NC: You’ve done some incredible horror photography! What have been some of your favorite photos?
AL: It’s so hard to choose! I loved shooting Wes Craven and Roger Corman but probably working with Henry Rollins is my favorite project I’ve worked on. I grew up in the East Coast hardcore scene and he’s been one of my heroes since I was like 10 so it was a huge honor!
NC: What is it about the horror genre that influences you, whether it be in your photography work, filmmaking, or personal life?
AL: I get so inspired by films. Dario Argento’s early work has a big place in my heart and definitely dictates a lot of my personal style as an artist. I’m influenced heavily by a lot of Korean filmmakers. I Saw The Devil, Snowpiercer, and Stoker inspire me to make movies every time I watch them. As far as my personal life, as I said before, living in Los Angeles there is a social circle of horror film makers probably unlike anywhere else. Everyone I spend time with works in horror and my day to day life revolves around that. I couldn’t ask for better humans to spend my days with and its all because of our shared love for horror.
NC: When it comes to horror what do you like more: blood and gore or mystery and suspense?
AL: I’m all over the place when it comes to that. I am a huge film noir fan so I love thrillers or Gialli. I love blood soaked films and supernaturals as well. Basically, if it’s a great story with good cinematography, I’m hooked!
NC: What horror legend (living or dead) would you like to photograph or star in a movie with?
AL: I would LOVE to photograph John Carpenter. If I could direct any actor… I’d love to have lived in a time where I could have worked with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, may they rest in peace.
NC: What scares you or what do you have a fear of?
AL: I’m super afraid of supernatural elements… Ghosts, psychics, etc. Anything in the realm of the unknown. I’m 31 years old and I can’t sleep after I watch a James Wan movie! haha
NC: What do you think needs to be done in the industry for women to be more recognized in the horror genre?
AL: It’s simple, the higher powers in the film industry, not just horror specifically, need to hire more women. They complain that women don’t have the experience to make films but how do we get it if you’re not giving us work? I don’t think the problem lies within the genre but within the structure of the industry itself. As a woman, I’ve had men on sets say things to me that would infuriate you. I never let it get to me, I know what my personal end game is and it’s making movies, not fighting with a threatened misogynist. I also fee that women in film/horror need to be each other’s biggest fans. Society has engrained this fucking stupid idea that women should compete with each other. There needs to be unity amongst women if we are going to further our cause and let me tell you, us horror ladies have this in spades. Every milestone or failure I’ve ever had in my career, these women, my fellow women in horror filmmakers have had my back and I try to always do the same for them. So to summarize, for us to get the recognition we deserve we just have to do the work. Every day, train like Rocky and know that for every win there will be at least four failures but we get the fuck up, and do it again.
NC: That right there, ladies and gentleman, is the fucking truth! Ama, you have such talent and drive, what can all of us look forward to seeing from you in the future?
AL: I have a ton of upcoming shoots for Blumhouse.com with some very awesome icons in the horror industry. I have some artistic photo endeavors that tap into the horror vein, and a few film projects that I’m incredibly excited for.
NC: Last, but not least, I have to ask. As such a fan of horror, what is your favorite horror movie?
AL: So so so many! Monster Squad, Dressed to Kill, Attack the Block, Street Trash, Suspiria, From Dusk til Dawn… I could go all day.
NC: Thank you so much Ama for taking the time to answer my questions and for being such an incredibly and inspiring woman, not just in horror, but in general. We eagerly await seeing your future project!