Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”
Talented Senior Flame Artist Amanda Amalfi joined global creative studio Ntropic in 2017.
Amanda was drawn to Ntropic because of their passion about the work and creating content that pushes boundaries, engages viewers, and exceeds expectations.
The native east-coaster brings a knack for creative problem solving and client relations to her role. “I like working with clients that I’ve known forever and have a rapport with, as well as with new clients who bring a new energy and creative challenge. It’s all about true collaboration and creating a level of trust,” Amanda says.
She has recently provided her talents to heavyweight brands including Oculus, Olay, Facebook, Coca-Cola, Morphe, and ANA, among many others.
What’s your origin story?
I grew up in a very small, very quiet town in eastern Connecticut called Lebanon. I knew from a fairly young age that I did not want to stay in that small town, and I knew that I wanted to do something artistic, so I found a college that had a computer art program and went from there!
How did you get into VFX?
I was given the email of an EP of a company looking for an intern from one of my professors in my junior year of college. I spent a few months of the summer as an After Effects intern and then was offered the (then standard) Flame Assist night shift position, which is how people used to train on the Flame.
I spent the next year working at night and going to class during the day to finish my degree, culminating in 2009 when I finally graduated. Excited to focus on only working I was thrown into the freelance world when the recession caused the company that I was working for to fold. This allowed me to meet a large sector of the post-production industry, which was a wonderful learning experience.
Who were your mentors?
The first people I worked with were Steve Zourntos and Ariel Altman, and they both were some of the best teachers I could hope for. They showed me the ins and outs of Flame and never questioned my ability to do work because of my gender.
Nor did they ever suggest that I would probably be more comfortable as a producer, or that I should stick to specific creative that was appropriate for women; as many of the women artists I know were told when they were starting out.
I was also lucky enough to work with a woman named Joanne Ungar who freelanced with the first place I worked. She was the first woman I met who was on Flame, and a wonderful example of a woman doing all the same great work that men were and not having any problems with it.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
I think my greatest achievement is being in my current position. I’m really proud to be the Senior Flame Artist at Ntropic, proud of my work and the path of my career.
How about your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment has been that creative freedom is being reduced in my industry. People (and brands) are hesitant to take risks and try new things so they’re increasingly sticking to what has been done before. I look forward to every job that has an experimental vibe and allows me to really get creative!
If being a woman is your superpower, how has it helped you?
I think one of the best things about being a woman in this industry is that you are less confined by the status quo. I feel that there was a hero mentality with some of the roles in the past, an idea that one person must come up with creative and be the one person that dictates everything within that creative.
It seems that the industry is shifting to be a more collaborative environment and as a woman I am more able to embrace that trend since I was never expected to ever become the solo creative genius that was the industry norm.
What’s your Kryptonite?
Self confidence is definitely a hard thing for me. As I have progressed through the levels of my industry, the amount of women in similar or equal positions has become less and less and I have, in turn, felt equally less sure of my position.
Obviously there are men I can use as a support system and have many friends who are happy to help, but my hope is as we progress there will be more women in higher positions so it will be more of an equal support for us all!
How did a combination of pandemic, Black Lives Matter and QAnon affect you?
This last year has been hard for all and I think has re-written how we interact. The effect it has had is to encourage me to try to listen to others first and not assume that I know what anyone else is going through.
I also have tried to increase the boundaries of my knowledge by more actively seeking movies / books / documentaries / podcasts… etc. by creators who have not gained mainstream media attention before.
What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion?
I think the more we collaborate and the more we listen to all voices, the better it will get. It is difficult to promote what you aren’t even aware of, so I think that we truly need to ask people what they are missing and what would make them feel supported both starting out and progressing within this industry.
If you’re Batwoman, who’s Robin?
One person that I can always count on is my amazing friend Veronica. She and I have now worked at three separate companies together and while I’ll never say that she’s my sidekick (she’s way too badass for that) she is someone that I depend on, and I know will always be there for me when I need her.
What’s the engine that pulls you?
Great stories are something that I am very drawn to, both in a visual and narrative sense. One of my absolute favorite things to work on is something that takes you on a visual journey and makes you engaged, even if it’s a line or a product it can be something that draws you in.
Climb in a time machine and tell 15-year-old you something.
It gets better.