From age 16 to 24, Amanda Tarvis worked as a waitress in food service. She never imagined a life in the film industry. When she entered college as a freshman in Art and Ceramics, she was drawn to the idea of “functional art” that was beautiful and purposeful.
Her plans changed when she was diagnosed with Chrohn’s disease. She was sidelined by the illness for several months. After another attempt to return to school, she realized she no longer had the funds for higher education and medical bills.
Tarvis was working and managing her health when a friend suggested she apply for a job at EUE/Screen Gems Studios Atlanta. She had no experience as a rental manager, and she didn’t consider herself “remotely qualified.” She remembers thinking, “Just do it.” Tarvis banked on her restaurant customer service skills. And after all, she had five brothers and a sister. She knew how to talk to a male-dominated audience.
Now at age 29, Amanda Tarvis has worked four years in the Lighting and Grip Department at EUE/Screen Gems Studios Atlanta. She started with an entry level position and was named Director of Lighting and Grip in 2017. Two people report to her directly, and she works with a team of seven.
Busy Days, Attention to Detail
Every day, she is involved in countless levels of production for the projects that locate on the studio complex. Tarvis handles nearly 100 phone calls and inquiries during an eight- to ten-hour day. Her schedule includes daily meetings with the grip and best boys and production meetings up to three times a week. The team puts together equipment packages for every shoot at the studio–and on location, too. She tracks and invoices millions of dollars of inventory. In addition, she caters to the clients’ needs, makes rental quotes, inventories, and estimates costs. Tarvis meets with producers and crew alike from productions from Marvel, Netflix, Lionsgate, and others.
From Guys in Cargo Shorts to Boardrooms
“At first, I found the Los Angeles producers intimidating,” she says. She quickly found confidence as she managed meetings successfully. Well-developed logistical skills and a mind for organization serve her well on productions of this scale. She also employs a thick skin, quick thinking and constant problem solving. Tarvis switches easily between crew meetings with “guys in cargo shorts” to boardrooms with producers. She handles her enormous workload by keeping her own “manic, crazy-person notes.” Tarvis’ goal is to “be nice, easy and helpful” in every interaction.
In addition to the human element, Tarvis and her team constantly learn as the industry employs more LED options and relies on more energy efficient, sustainable equipment. Today, Tarvis manages the 30,000 sq ft warehouse devoted to lighting and grip equipment.
Despite long days and the self-care demanded for top performance as an individual managing Chrohn’s disease, Tarvis still finds time to give back. Each year, her team participates in the Georgia Film Fights Hunger Walk.
The Choice Comes Down to Service
“As Atlanta approaches 100 managed sound stages, producers now have plenty of choice on which studio lot will be the best home for their show,” says Kris Bagwell, Executive Vice President of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta. “In the end, the choice comes down to service, and Amanda provides superb service to EUE/Screen Gems productions who choose to come back season after season. Under Amanda’s leadership, same-show revenue at the studios has increased 25% year to year.”
Today, Tarvis proudly identifies herself as a member of the Georgia film industry. In 2017, the industry spent $2.7 billion in her home state. She finds the Atlanta film community “a warm and interesting place to work.” Despite a chronic illness and no funds for higher education, Amanda persevered and rose through the ranks. Her savvy, determination and hard work paid off. While her path in film led her away from Art and Ceramics, her work today yields both beauty and function.