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Brennan: Seizing the reins of Lucas’s FX empire

Women's Impact Report 2011: Lynwen Brennan

“Flabbergasted” is the word that Lynwen Brennan uses to describe her reaction when she learned last year that she was being elevated from production exec at Industrial Light & Magic to president and general manager of not only ILM but also its sister company, Skywalker Sound.

This fits a pattern with the U.K.-born Brennan, who has rapidly moved up through the management ranks in the effects production world after starting her career in visual effects software development, first with Parallax Software and then Avid Technology.

Brennan’s appointment coincided with ILM’s expansion into full-service work on its first animated feature, Gore Verbinski’s “Rango,” which involved the company in nearly every aspect of the production process. Brennan says that “this meant not just working on sections of a film requiring ILM’s amazing group of artists, but dealing with whole sequences, and in reality, the film from start to finish. So what it demanded was that we rework our pipeline, our tools and methodologies for how we work, our whole workflow.”

That workflow also included contributions to two of the year’s gargantuan hits, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” as well as “Super 8,” “Cowboys & Aliens” and the upcoming “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”

“It was an amazing, intense year,” says Brennan, “and the people here worked their butts off.”

Brennan has doubled the number of artists at the firm’s Singapore-based unit, and reinforced the effects house’s reputation for producing state-of-the-art results on a timely and cost-efficient basis.

“I’m interested in people and what makes them tick,” she reflects, “and that helps determine what makes them the most efficient, which gives them the most freedom to do their best work.”

SNAPSHOT
Title: President & general manager, ILM/Skywalker Sound
Role model: “My parents.”
Career mantra: “Trust your gut and never compromise your integrity.”
Leisure pursuits: “Running around after a 2-year-old.”
Philanthropic passion: Save the Children, Marin Humane Society

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