Rather than follow in the footsteps of his father , Darren Sentner began a career in corporate financing. But what seemed like a simple business deal, took him from the world of mergers and acquisitions to the world of cartoons and animation. Although he initially treated it like it’s another job, animations became something special when his family watched something he helped create.
Growing up on the beaches of Prince Edward Island, Sentner was born to a diesel mechanic father and housewife mother. After finishing grade school, Sentner got his bachelor of business administration from the University of Prince Edward Island in 1987 and afterward, got his masters in 1993 at the University of British Columbia.
But despite his respective degrees, he had trouble finding a job because he was “going up against other master graduates that, you know, have worked in the world.”
That changed when he met the Vice President of Scotiabank, who gave him an entry-level position.
After he left Scotiabank in 1998, Sentner branched out and worked for several other companies including ,DC Energy Services Inc. in 2002 and Dynetek Industries Ltd. in 2010.
In 2009, Sentner met Colin Curwen, founder of New Machines Studios, over a business transaction after Curwen wanted to sell his IT company to focus on his animation career. They quickly began a close friendship, which eventually lead Curwen to ask Sentner to help him arrange the financing for a film he was working on.
Although Curwen had experience doing in finances, it was preventing him from focusing on the film’s creative aspects. Sentner agreed, because he “wasn’t planning on killing myself [with work] over the winter,” and “it was just a part-time gig.”
When Sentner joined New Machines Studios in 2013, he said his experience as a corporate lender benefited him when he became a film producer.
“The function is the same, the product is different,” Sentner said.
One of the first projects he helped work on was the film The Prophet, an animated adaptation of the prose poetry book of the same name. Roger Allers of Lion King was also involved as producer.
Sentner said he found the process of critiquing the film “fascinating,” and it was interesting seeing others “envision it differently.” For his part, he said he never really thinks about the final product until it’s finished.
One of the memories Sentner cherishes most from his time as film producer, was when his family watched a film that took months of hard work to finish. He remembers how he was generally surprised at how carefully they watched, how silently they watched and how impressed they were with the quality of the story.
However, Sentner said each film is a collaboration that takes hard work and a lot of love.
“It’s a great feeling to have to be in a wonderful team whose work is acknowledged by others other than your peers you know that’s not something that happens as much as banking or my other careers.”
- By Richie Nguyen