NEW YORK — In 2008, when Amanda Amalfi got her first shot at Flame during an unpaid internship at Headlight, she asked her fellow artists if her new skillset would keep her in the studio past midnight very often. They burst into laughter.
Welcome to the industry.
Amalfi, who had recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts, embraced the challenge, and her Flame work has since enriched top brands such as H&M, Bruno Magli, and DSW. The young artist also brought her talents to longer-form work, including Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses performance DVD and The Legend of Lady White Snake film.
“I was very lucky to start off at Headlight,” Amalfi notes. “When I came in, the studio was working on a low-budget short. Since they were a small place and they didn't necessarily want to bring in paid people for this project, they were willing to let me try more advanced things, which helped me progress much faster and let me show them what I could do and how I worked, which led them to offer me the job.”
Unfortunately, her enthusiasm outlasted her position at Headlight, forcing her to make a fast career decision. She chose to try freelancing. Fortunately, the imagination and work ethic that are a prerequisite to success in the Flame bay were equally important to setting off on a freelance career, which Amalfi now counts as one of her most vital learning experiences.
“Freelancing forced me to work with a lot of different people in a lot of different environments, which prepared me to be able to adapt and work in different ways,” Amalfi explains. “This is such a great skill to have, and one that I may never have acquired had Headlight not let me go. When you're working as a freelancer you have to be able to go into a place and work with their methods and you have to be open to do whatever they need. This translates into a staff position incredibly well because you never know what job you're going to be working on next, it could be a beauty spot or it could be for a sports network.”
As a freelancer, Amalfi bounced between many top shops, including Manic, Company 3, ArtJail, Suspect, Click 3X, Goodpenny, Light of Day, Logan, QuietMan (where she briefly worked full time) and Framestore. The freelancing, in turn, eventually led to another full-time job last December, when Steve Zourntos, Anne Verschoor, Ariel Altman and Bob Cagliero — who once worked at 89 Edit, Headlight’s sister company — pulled Amalfi into a full-time job at Poetica, where she began leading jobs right away.
Poetica (http://poetica.tv) has locations in both New York and Los Angeles. The studio is home to six Flame bays, an in-house audio suite, a full design and VFX department. They also have a top-tier editorial company at their disposal.
Growing up among the cows of small-town Lebanon, CT, Amalfi was by no means foredestined to end up as an up-and-comer in the post world. In fact, she stumbled in almost by accident.
“The guy I was dating in high school actually told me that there was no way I could learn Maya, because it was ‘too hard,’” explains Amalfi. “Well, I decided to learn Maya to prove him wrong, and I found out that I liked it. I went on to the 3D program at Springfield College, and then to study After Effects and Nuke at the School of Visual Arts.”
It was at her last school that Amalfi’s love of compositing really bloomed, setting her up for a successful start in the post world.