Community & Business

22 April, 2023

From the rainforest to top of British TV world

A KURANDA local with a burning passion for the film and TV industry has been nominated in the highly prestigious BAFTA TV Craft awards for her work in the critically acclaimed show, “House of the Dragon”.

By Rhys Thomas

Kuranda born and bred, Nikeah Forde working on the set of Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle
Kuranda born and bred, Nikeah Forde working on the set of Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

Nikeah Forde grew up in Kowrowa outside of Kuranda with her brother Russell and parents Kim and Mick.

During her formative teenage years, Nikeah’s first job was at Annabels Bakery in Kuranda and she spent her Saturdays volunteering with the Kuranda Riding for the Disabled Branch.

Now, the 38-year-old’s work as a visual effects producer has earned her a nomination in one of the world’s most highly ac-claimed film awards, the British Academy Film Awards, more commonly referred to as the BAFTAs.

Growing up in a small town is one of the main reasons that pushed both Nikeah and Russell to pursue careers in visual effects.

“I think growing up in a rural environment means you spend a lot of time as a kid either reading or watching movies,” Nikeah said.

“My brother Russell and I, both grew up with a deep passion for stories and we are lucky enough to get to play in a story driven sandbox for careers now.”

Nikeah’s parents believe their children’s involvement in Riding for the Disabled at Kuranda gave them a great background in appreciating and engaging with people from di-verse backgrounds and abilities which, in-turn, helped them in their careers.

“As parents, Mick and I are really proud of both of our kids, they've done very well for two kids from Kuranda although they don't get home much, they are too busy living their best lives,” Kim said.

Nikeah “accidentally fell” fell into visual effects in 2007 when the HBO series “The Pacific” was being filmed in Port Douglas.

“I happened to ask if they need any assistants at the right time, the VFX Department needed a PA and my career took off from there,” she said.

“I love that my job lets me travel to incredible places, lets me work with some of the most creative people in the world.

“I constantly have to reskill and learn on every job as we are always adapting to new technology and new ideas on how to film to make the best visual effects possible.”

“House of the Dragon” is just the latest project in a long line of highly-reputed and critically-acclaimed movies and TV shows that Nikeah has been involved in, including “The Martian”,

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, “Cinderella” and “Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle”.

As a visual effects producer for film and television, Nikeah’s role is to co-lead the visual effects department and share the head of department title with the visual effects supervisor.

The split in the responsibilities tends to see the VFX super-visor responsible for the creative decisions and Nikeah responsible for the logistics, namely finding ways to get the project on budget and on schedule.

On “House of the Dragon”, Angus Bickerton was the visual effects supervisor and he was responsible for making sure the dragons and environments created looked as spectacular as possible while Nikeah was responsible for making sure the dragons could be created on time and on budget.

“We are nominated specifically for the work we did on House of the Dragon, it’s the overall quality of work of the show that gets you a nomination,” she said.

“The work comprised of obviously enormous computer-generated (CG) dragons but also huge digital environments and loads of face replacements and body changes.

“I think you would be surprised at how often what is shot ends up in the hands of the VFX Department.”

One of the major highlights in Nikeah’s career, besides getting nominated for a BAFTA, is increasing the diversity of the teams she works with and making the films have “voices from different backgrounds”.

“It makes our films better to have voices from different backgrounds involved and it makes our lives more interesting,” she said.

“As more people get into film, they become role models for younger generations and I am lucky enough to have had some wonderful female role models take me under their wing as I was coming up through the ranks.

“Getting to be a role model now for some incredibly talent-ed women in the business is the absolute joy of my life.”

Nikeah feels incredibly honoured to be nominated for a BAFTA award alongside her team and feels it is a great achievement.

“It is a lovely thing to be nominated, it is a really great boost for our crew and a delight-ful thing to have on a CV,” she said.

“Plus, any opportunity to put on a beautiful dress and drink champagne with your mates is worthwhile.”

The BAFTA Television Craft Awards will take place this Sunday 23 April in London.


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