Dara McGarry

Creative People: Dara McGarry

17 January 2018

As part of our continuing Creative People series, meet Artist Manager for Double Negative, one of London’s top VFX and post-production houses, talks about how she got to where she is. 

1) How did you get to be an Artist Manager?
Career paths aren’t always as straightforward as you think. I spent many years as an actress in theatre and voiceover before doing some temp work.

My first assignment was Disney Feature Animation. When I walked in the door, I could feel a different atmosphere. Everyone was so happy to be there. The energy was bright and vibrant. I knew that this was the place I’d been looking for. After a few years in production and technology, I spent some time in the FX department before going into artist management. Now I can help guide the careers of those, like me, who want to follow a fun and fulfilling career in the film business.

2) What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
One of the main parts of my job is helping people and building relationships. I spend much of my day talking to people. Sometimes one on one, sometimes in large meetings. But the foundation of all I do is excellent communication. In my job overall, I’m responsible for a large group of artists, technicians, and production staff. I make sure they have all the need to do their job, create training they may require and develop career plans. Great communication is at the heart of artist management.

3) What’s the best bit about your job?
The thing I love most is when an artist comes to me excitedly talking about achieving their dreams due to our collaboration. It could be supervising a film or maybe it’s their first job. Either way, the excitement and joy created when the right person and the right task comes together is inspiring.

4) What’s the worst bit about your job?
The nature of the business itself means there will always be last minute changes; sometimes small, but sometimes very big. And managing people’s reactions and expectations is a constant challenge.

5) The thing that people don’t really know…
I come from the US, but I’ve been an Anglophile since a young age. I love travelling around and learning the history of London and Britain. As such, I get lots of requests for information from my crew about restaurants, places of interest: general history. I didn’t expect to be part tour guide, but I love it!

6) How could I do what you do?
Artist management is all about people. You need to be an excellent communicator. You must see the big picture and figure out how things might play out - like a chess game. Most of all you need to be empathetic and able to approach all conversations from a caring, but very honest perspective.

7) What would you say to someone wanting to get into your line of work?
The most important thing is to know yourself. What are you best at? How do you like to work? Are you mostly creative? Technical? Find what you REALLY love, and then look for an aspect of the career that plays to your strengths.
 

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