- CHICAGO & LOS ANGELES
Tessa Films has added director Amanda Speva to its directorial roster. She had formerly been with ONE at Optimus where back in 2013 she was included in SHOOT’s New Directors Showcase (as part of the team Mark & Amanda with Mark Pallman).
A native of Chicago, Speva brings a talent for capturing comedy and emotion shaped by a deft narrative touch, often conveyed via offbeat characters, genuine performances and with exceptional musicality. Speva reunites at Tessa with executive producer Lisa Masseur, who co-founded the company--which maintains offices in Chicago and L.A.--with EP Reid Brody in 2017.
Masseur, who worked with Speva when she was EP at ONE at Optimus, noted that even while the director was part of a team, with longtime collaborator Mark Pallman, she was always working on her own projects. “Over the past year or so the number of projects that Mark & Amanda directed individually began to increase, so they made the decision to go solo,” Masseur noted. “They have a great relationship and still work together on side projects, and while I loved working with them as a duo, at the same time I’m thrilled Amanda is forging out on her own for brand work.” Masseur described Speva as “a passionate filmmaker who’s always working. Be it her own documentaries, music videos, projects for brands or short personal films, she has an incredible work ethic along with a creative vision that drives her.”
Speva identified Masseur as a major factor in her decision to join Tessa Films. The director said of Masseur, “She’s given me so many amazing opportunities and always has my back, whether it’s an agency job or a passion project. She truly sees the value in my ideas, and is an invaluable resource regarding all things production. It’s also really appealing to me that she PA’d on A League of Their Own. So I’m joining Tessa mostly because of Lisa, and a little bit because of Geena Davis.”
Speva got her first taste of acclaim at the age of 20, when designer Todd Oldman called out her hilariously lo-fi YouTube craft series. Since then her work has been featured in Rolling Stone and The New York Times, and at the New York Television Festival. A number of her shorts have been selected as Vimeo Staff Picks, and her commercial work has garnered Effie Awards and Chicago Addy Awards, as well as the REGGIE Award (sponsored by the ANA), among others.
She’s hoping to gain access to bigger and more challenging projects at Tessa, and is also interested in doing more brand-direct work. “I’m looking for projects that let me flex my creative muscle, in regards to writing and ideation,” noted Speva. “I love directing all different kinds of work--documentary, comedy, narrative storytelling. I think my versatility is advantageous in so many ways; it keeps you constantly learning while keeping things fresh.”
Speva’s been busy recently with a handful of notable projects. On her music video for Caroline Rose, “Jeannie Becomes A Mom,” the singer tells the story of a woman almost swallowed up by a highly-stylized form of suburban bliss. “Caroline and I collaborated very closely on the creative for months before shooting the whole thing in one day, with the best cast and crew in the world,” Speva said. She also volunteered to direct for Women for the Win, an initiative started by director Ramaa Mosley (who recently joined Station Film) to enlist women directors to make pro bono campaign ads for women running in the midterm elections.
Speva joins a Tessa talent roster that includes Toben Seymour, Meghann Artes, Sam Macon, Tim Mason, Joe Otting, Lauren Sick, Duncan Wolfe and the stop-motion team Uptime.