Tools of the Trade: Matthew D’Amato of Valiant Pictures

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Matthew D’Amato, executive producer at Valiant Pictures.

Matthew D’Amato of Valiant Pictures with some examples of the studio’s work with Simian.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

I use Simian daily. No, this isn’t a stealth ad—they don’t know I’m saying this. Other production companies know it to be a reel hosting and sharing platform, with other analytics and tools built in. But beyond its cut-and-dry description, the platform organizes my entire work life and streamlines my creative thinking. We’ve used it since our founding in 2017. As a Valiant Pictures archive, it helps me see how our creative skills have improved over time or where they still need work, customize the best reels for specific agencies and brands, or choose the right director for the next creative brief.

I know it’s a little cheesy, but with such a thorough record, you can reflect on your work or remember projects you might not have seen in a long time, right down to our very first short films. It’s cool that this system can house everything you’ve ever done.

Why is it your favorite?

We picked Simian from the start of Valiant Pictures thanks to its ease of use. It’s a polished and sleek platform for users and clients alike, and they update their functionality frequently enough to stay ahead of the pack. We continue to use it up to now because it’s maintained its effectiveness. I use it to maintain quality relationships with agencies, keeping them updated on our work and sharing directors’ reels for new jobs, or for press and awards.

They also offer convenient tools for rapid reel customization. Say FreshFly, one of our production partners, needed a reel for a new tourism client. I would then literally go through all the directors and all their work and create an impactful custom reel that meets that need. On-the-go support is exactly what we need when deadlines are tight.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

I believe we were sent a reel by someone else, which was made on Simian. I remember falling down a rabbit hole and realizing Simian was exactly what we needed for our own then-new company.

How does it help you be successful?

Apart from being a solid record of our work, they offer reel analytics. We can see which reels are opened and viewed most, how long people watch, and which reels are re-watched. From a sales perspective, this information helps us understand which reel elements work best, to continue refining and creating even better presentations. Or, when we’re sending something for specific directors, we can make sure the director is putting their best foot forward with the most compelling examples of their work, based on what viewers like to see. When we see someone’s watched our reel 20 times over the last two days, we know something in it is working.

Does it have sentimental value?

I’m not sure how Simian would feel if the platform had sentimental value to me, per se, but were something bad to happen to the company I would feel very sad.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral? Why or why not?

I’m not sure offhand if Simian is on TikTok—but maybe if we work together we could make something happen.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.