Sarah Daggar-Nickson on the Desire to Dream with Purpose
Sarah Daggar-Nickson joined the roster at LA content company Chromista at the back end of last year after an Instagram DM from Sandy Haddad, who co-owns the company with Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky and executive producers Scott Franklin and Ted Robbins. “I couldn’t say no to being part of their family,” Sarah tells us.
2019 also saw the launch of Sarah’s first feature film, ‘A Vigilante’, but she boasts a varied career outside of filmmaking prior to becoming a director. She’s practiced strategy at agencies on top of setting up a fashion label, writing poetry and theatre and creating both radio and video documentaries.
Get to know her better below.
Q> What is it about the team there that clicks for you?
Sarah> Their combination of brave thoughtful creativity and getting it done at a high level of execution gives me the good feels.
Q> How did you first get in the industry, and what was your very first job?
Sarah> In Australia a few years back I wrote my first script for fun and it won a prize from MTV who made it into a TV movie.
Q> Where did you learn your craft?
Sarah> I came to film organically. Before I’d done a ton of different stuff in various storytelling mediums - set up a fashion label, made radio and video documentaries, wrote and published poetry, wrote and staged a play. What I love about writing and directing narrative is that it encompasses all the things I’m interested in. I never feel unsatisfied as a creator.
Q> Before doing what you do now, did you work in any other field / have any different career path?
Sarah> Apart from the above, I earnt my money for many years as a brand strategist for various advertising agencies in Sydney, London, New York, and LA. As well as being a source of income it’s kept me grounded as a storyteller. The great thing about strategy is you have to immerse yourself in different audience’s viewpoints and communicate complex ideas clearly.
Q> And which creative talents in your field have inspired you in your own career?
Sarah> I lean towards genre filmmaking, so [Steven] Spielberg, [Christopher] Nolan and [Stanley] Kubrick - I love how they managed to create bold imaginative worlds that still spoke to so many. Right now I’m excited for [Chloe] Zhao’s ‘Eternals’ and [Cathy] Yan’s ‘Birds of Prey’. It’s so cool that two such brave indie filmmakers got keys to the Studio. And I’m inspired by [Kathryn] Bigelow, [Ava] Duvernay, [Lulu] Wang, and [Greta] Gerwig for pushing the frontlines with profound work that garners high awareness.
Q> What was your first creative milestone in the industry – the project you worked on that you were super proud of?
Sarah> My first feature as a writer/director was ‘A Vigilante’. Working with Olivia Wilde and domestic abuse survivors was beyond rewarding.
Q> And what recent projects are you proudest of and why?
Sarah> You’ll find out soon! ;)
Q> Do you have any personal or side projects on the go? What is it, what inspired it and why is it important to you?
Sarah> To be honest I write or visualise every day towards my professional work as a writer/director. I’m grateful that what I Ioved doing in my spare time is now what I do in my full time.
Q> What really drives you creatively?
Sarah> The desire to dream with purpose. To create entertaining but meaningful work that helps us face issues difficult to deal with in real life. Work that connects us all and helps empathy while being a hell of a ride.
Q> What are the aspects of your work that you really obsess over?
Sarah> Light, sound, plot holes and signs of fakery.
Q> How would you describe your approach to your work?
Sarah> I like to immerse myself in the reality behind the story first. Research from secondary and primary resources is really important to me and provides a great base for all my collaborators to feed off.
Ultimately it’s about making sure that the work we are creating is respectful to the subjects and, even in a genre space, feels honest.
Q> When it comes to enjoying the creativity of others, what sort of thing excites and inspires you?
Sarah> When they do their best! That’s such a gift. Plus I have a strong creative point of view but for me it’s a direction not the end, I love watching it grow out into something rich and exciting with a creativity and expertise unique to them.
Q> Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
Sarah> Art. Social justice, specifically women and race equality issues. And I love me some Deadliest Catch on Discovery. Those camera people are warriors.