Tessa Films has signed director Amanda Speva
to its directorial roster. A native of Chicago, Speva brings a talent for capturing comedy and emotion, shaped by a deft narrative touch. Her unique style is often conveyed via offbeat characters, genuine performances and exceptional musicality.
Speva’s signing was announced by Tessa EP Lisa Masseur, who co-founded the company with EP Reid Brody in 2017.
“Amanda fits in well with our team here at Tessa,” says Masseur. “She’s 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.”
Masseur, who worked with Speva when she was EP at One, notes that even while she 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. They have a great relationship and still work together on side projects, and whilst 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.”
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, at the New York Television Festival and in the SHOOT New Directors Showcase. 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.
When asked what distinguishes Speva as a filmmaker, Masseur replies: “Simply put, she cares. She’s adamant about bringing a unique approach to each project. Her visual style and the way she works with talent and real people puts me in awe of her thoughtfulness, down to every little detail. I can’t wait to see where Amanda goes with her solo career.”
Why make the leap to Tessa? “I’m joining because of Lisa,” says Speva. “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 re-source 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.”
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. 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 genuinely 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 says. She also volunteered to direct for Women for the Win, an initiative started by director Ramaa Mosely to enlist women directors to make pro bono campaign ads for women running in the midterm elections.
At Tessa, she joins a roster that includes Toben Seymour, Meghann Artes, Sam Macon, Tim Mason, Joe Otting, Lauren Sick, Duncan Wolfe and the stop-motion team Up-time.