Dara has been working in the VFX and animation industry since her first role on Dinosaur in 1997. With over 14 years working for a variety companies such as Disney Feature Animation and working on 102 Dalmatians, Tangled and Frozen she came to Double Negative as a 3D Artist Manager.
What is your current job role? Can you describe it in a few sentences?
3D Artist Manager. I manage the recruitment, contracts, salaries, crewing, and training aspects of my particular artists. I have ~160 people in animation, rigging, and fx.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Connecting people to their dream job, whether it be creating the model of a Marvel hero or animating Godzilla!
What are the most important skills and attributes for a person in your job?
A good artist manager needs to be a great networker, patient, a good listener, adaptable to change, and a have broad scope of knowledge about different disciplines in VFX and animation.
What are the top three things that you suggest anyone wanting to do your job learns?
1. How to take a basic shot, even a bouncy ball, from start to final render. It doesn’t have to be good, you just need to know the process. 2. How to manage people in dynamic environments.
3. Everything about time management.
What inspired you to get into the VFX/ animation industry?
A friend who worked in the industry and had a cool job.
Did you pursue this career through any educational routes?
What kind of private study did you undertake in addition to any educational programs?
I signed up for every course I could find – sculpture, animation, painting, time management, leadership training.
How did you start in the industry – what was your first job and how did you get it?
I signed up for a temp agency that often placed people at Disney Feature Animation. My first job was on Dinosaur.
What was the biggest thing you immediately had to learn in your first role?
Do you have any skills that make you stand out amongst your peers?
I have 17 years’ experience in Feature Animation and VFX in artist management, technology, FX animation, production, and stereo. I don’t know anyone else who has been in as many different roles as I have.
How did you progress in your career – where there any skills that you had to learn to support your progress?
Adaptability. I learned early to anticipate change and embrace it, or else you will quickly fall behind. That helped me progress faster than some of my peers who were not as adaptable.
In retrospect, was there anything you would have done differently to get into the VFX and animation industry?
I would have taken a MSc degree. I would have loved that.
What are the top three things that you suggest anyone wanting to get into the industry learns?
1. Python, Maya, Houdini
2. Filmmaking and cinematography
3. Any fine art discipline such as painting, photography, or sculpting