AACTA Member Spotlight: Nikki Gooley – Hair & Make-Up Artist

Hair and Make-up Artist, Nikki Gooley

Nikki Gooley is a Sydney-sider from way back. She was first inspired to experiment with elaborate hair and make-up designs when, as a teenager, she attended Dawn Swane’s theatrical make-up workshop for City Road Youth. Despite dousing her Red Setter in talcum powder and removing the eyelashes of her favourite doll, Gooley’s flair and finesse shone through, and now she transforms the faces of many a famous actor in such productions as: Spider and Rose, Dance Academy, The Matrix, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, X-Men and most recently, The Sapphires.

Gooley was nominated for an Academy Award for Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith in 2006 and in the same year won a BAFTA for her outstanding work on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Gooley is an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Honorary Councillor for our Hair & Make-Up Design Chapter. She is a strong advocate for her craft and is currently campaigning to have a Hair & Make-Up Award introduced into the AACTA Awards, to formally recognise the high level of skill and talent involved.

Gooley is also a firm believer in the medium of film and its unique ability to capture the subtleties of skin texture, shadow and light.  She describes herself as an artist who likes to build up a “look” by embellishing what is already there rather than having to scale back prosthesis. When asked what advice she’d give emerging artists she adamantly states: “Look at the big picture. It’s not just about applying a bit of lippy!”

Read on for more insight into Gooley’s career choices, her working style and inspirations. It is evident that she’s exceptionally hardworking and never afraid of accepting a challenge. Her answers also provide great insight into the highs and lows or the less salubrious side of working in Hair and Make-Up Design.

Nikki Gooley is one of our highly regarded AACTA members. We are proud to have film and television makers of this calibre as a part of the new Australian Academy. In coming months, we look forward to sharing more of these profiles as we turn the Member Spotlight onto more performers and practitioners – both those working at home and abroad. (You can check out our previous AACTA Member Profiles here.)

AFI | AACTA: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Nikki Gooley:
I was born in Sydney and grew up in the inner west.

AFI | AACTA: Where do you live now?
Nikki Gooley:
I’m in Sydney now but I’ve also spent a number of years living in London.

AFI | AACTA: What is your most vivid childhood memory?
Nikki Gooley:
Vivid childhood memory? There are so many, argh where do I begin? Covering my dog – a Red Setter in talcum powder from head to toe so he was white not red. Pulling out my doll’s eyelashes and crying because they wouldn’t grow back!

AFI | AACTA: At what point did you know that you wanted to be a hair & make-up artist and how did you go about realising it?
Nikki Gooley:
While I was in high school I was a part of a youth theatre group called City Road Youth Theatre. During the school holidays, we attended workshops in everything from lighting to costume design. One of them was a theatrical makeup class and a student from Dawn Swane’s Theatrical Make-Up Workshop came and did some demos. I was hooked from that moment on.

I went to school with the actress Joy Smithers, and I think I got inspired by our conversations and dreams about working with the fashion make-up artist Smilka, who we both admired. I left school and did a fine arts diploma. I then went onto Dawn Swane’s Three Arts Makeup School.

AFI | AACTA: What was your first major project?
Nikki Gooley:
My first film was a low budget film called Unfinished Business, directed by Bob Ellis and shot by Andrew Lesnie. It was so much fun! Another great creative job was P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan.

AFI | AACTA: As an established hair and make-up supervisor, do you still perform hands on work or is it more high-concept work and overseeing a team of artists?
Nikki Gooley:
Yes, I am very hands on, as hands on as I can be. Sometimes it just isn’t feasible, but if I am given the time, I like to be as practically involved as possible.

AFI | AACTA: Where do you find inspiration for your designs? Can you describe your creative process?
Nikki Gooley:
Inspiration is everywhere. I usually draw on things from other design areas, for example production design, colours, magazines, art galleries and landscapes. If time allows, I put a style book together, or mood boards to add textures, colours and hair shapes, etc.


AFI | AACTA: What does a typical working day on set, for instance on a high concept project like Narnia, entail for you?

Nikki Gooley: A typical day starts very early and I begin working on the lead actor, applying their make-up, wigs, facial hair or picking the crust out of their sleepy eyes! It is all very glamorous! I have breakfast and then it’s onto the set. On really busy jobs you can sometimes be in the make-up bus for hours. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of de-rigging, cleaning and plotting the next day. It can be a very late finish. The Make-Up Department relies heavily on the strength and co-ordination of the Art Direction Department.

AFI | AACTA: What was the brief you were given for the hair and make-up on The Sapphires?
Nikki Gooley: The Sapphires
was an extraordinary film to be a part of. Director Wayne Blair wanted the girls (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell) to stay true to who they were in terms of realising their characters’ personas. They wouldn’t be living on a mission looking like Beyonce so I used very little make-up on them to begin with. Not even mascara, I had to keep them looking youthful and fresh. I increased their performance make-up and threw on some hair pieces as they matured and went to Melbourne for their audition. The fashion of the time was varied so not everyone would have had the latest Vogue look – much the same as today. We added extra hair pieces to Cynthia’s character (Miranda Tapsell) because she was the one who thought she would be famous! At the end when the girls perform for their family, I kept it fresh again, even though their lives had changed forever.

‘Staying true to the characters’ personas’ – the hair and make-up for the four leading ladies of THE SAPPHIRES evolved as they did.

Nikki on the set of THE SAPPHIRES

AFI | AACTA: I can imagine that you are often called upon by friends and family to assist in creating the perfect costume for dress up parties?
Nikki Gooley:
Yes, family and friends love having their hair and make-up done … Kid’s fancy dress etc.  It’s a big pressure – sometimes they can be your biggest critics!

AFI | AACTA: What are some of the ways you have refined your skills and changed your working methods over the course of your career?
Nikki Gooley:
I don’t like fuss and I try and let looks grow, build things up rather than dismantling a look.  I learn something new on every job. There are always new products to experiment with, and because technology has changed – less being shot on film now and more on HD – it’s a constant trial, finding what products work and how they behave under lights and on the skin. I try to work with the skin and not cover it up too much.

AFI | AACTA: What aspects do you enjoy most about your work? What are the challenges?
Nikki Gooley:
The Sapphires was shot on film which was so beautiful. I think no matter how good the technology is, nothing will replace the layers of texture and lighting or the subtlety of hair and make-up that you get on film. There’s a richness that I just don’t see on HD.

There are always challenges, so many actually. All the little things that are needed to help an actor prepare and bring their character to life. It can be anything from ensuring that a nose hair stays in the same spot every day, or that hair colours are maintained or repaired, to continuity challenges like wind, rain and humidity. Then there’s dealing with make-up that won’t sit on the skin properly, or insecure wigs, kids with missing teeth, people with hangovers and directors who don’t know what they want, or simply a lot of people having a solution to a hair issue when they know nothing about hair! These are just some of the things that you come up against as a hair and make-up artist.

You’ve worked on everything from Spider and Rose and Dance Academy to The Matrix, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, X-Men and The Sapphires. How do you go about choosing a project to work on? What are the most important elements for you?
Nikki Gooley:
I look for projects that have an obvious design challenge – for example completely changing someone’s look  to tell a really fabulous story or negotiating new cultural challenges. I also like to know who the director, producer, cast and crew of a film are when I am contemplating accepting a job. I would love to be able to say that I only look at film’s story, director, cast and the types of make-up challenges offered but I also have a young family to consider, so they play a significant role as well.

AFI | AACTA: Are there particular directors, producers and make-up people that you like to work with?
Nikki Gooley:
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some of the finest people in the industry both here, in Australia, and overseas.

Once I read the script of The Sapphires, I HAD to do it! Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson had written one of the best scripts I’ve read in years.

AFI | AACTA: Is there a significant difference to the way that you work when you are working on local Australian productions in comparison to those bigger budget Hollywood blockbusters?
Nikki Gooley:
The difference between small budget projects and Hollywood blockbusters is the intimacy on set. There are usually so many more people involved in a big budget feature that the creative process can be a little more complicated.

Small budgets make you far more resourceful because you don’t have the same amount of cash to spend. Sometimes this works in your favour because it simplifies a look, but it can also be detrimental because you can’t give a look the same polish.

Nikki Gooley with her BAFTA Award for Best Hair & Make-Up

AFI | AACTA: You were nominated for an Academy Award in 2006 (Best Achievement in Make-Up) for Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and in the same year won the BAFTA Best Hair and Make-Up Award for your work on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. How does it feel to receive such international recognition for your craft?
Nikki Gooley:
Receiving recognition at an international level is really exciting. The awards are voted on by fellow make-up artists so it really is a great honour.

AFI | AACTA: Do awards help in obtaining further work?
Nikki Gooley:
Awards give you recognition and exposure, [and] depending on the size of the industry you work in, it can also determine the amount of future work you will be offered.

AFI | AACTA: You are also an honorary councillor (Hair & Make-Up Chapter) in the newly formed Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). How would you like to contribute to the Australian industry within this role?
Nikki Gooley:
I would like to see an Australian award introduced into the AACTA Awards for Best Make-Up. I will be campaigning on behalf of all of those great make-up artists who work really hard on minimal budgets to produce such great looks and contribute to the whole mood of a film.

Nikki holding her BAFTA Award for Best Hair & Make-Up for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

AFI | AACTA: What have been some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced during your career? What have been the highlights? What are you most looking forward to?
Nikki Gooley:
Often, the biggest hurdle for make-up artists is receiving acknowledgement for our craft. It encompasses so much more than just a slap of make-up. It is a subtle, intimate and personal craft but the long hours are back-breaking. Hair and make-up plays a pivotal role in assisting actors to realise their characters, whether it is through simply trimming a mustache or applying lavish prosthetics and wigs, every little bit counts.

AFI | AACTA: If you had to name three people who have inspired or mentored you over the years, who would they be?
Nikki Gooley:
Producer Julia Overton had great faith in me when I was starting out. Patrick McCormack, another producer, and fellow make-up artists, such as Lois Burwell and Dick Smith were also strong influences.

AFI | AACTA: What advice would you give upcoming Australian hair and make-up artists wanting to break into the industry?
Nikki Gooley:
Advice … Look at the bigger picture. It’s not just about applying a bit of lippy!

AFI | AACTA: What is your all-time favourite Australian film or television series? Why?
Nikki Gooley:
Favourite Australian film – The Sapphires! – It’s part of our history, an incredible story, told through the eyes of some amazingly talented filmmakers, an Indigenous director, cinematographer and suite of actors. It’s beautiful, rich, funny and real! There are so, so many great stories out there that need to be aired in the mainstream.

AFI | AACTA: Thanks so much for your time and we look forward to working with you in the new Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.

AACTA Member Spotlight: Adam Howard, Visual Effects Supervisor

Howard on set of RUSH HOUR 3

Inspired at school by a dedicated and committed art teacher, Adam Howard is now one of Australia’s most prolific and experienced Visual Effects Supervisors. Starting his career at the ABC in Melbourne and at AAV (now Digital Pictures), with shows like the acclaimed children’s series Round the Twist, he moved to Hollywood 21 years ago, where he has since worked continuously, performing  wonders with technology to create convincing renditions of supernatural worlds, places and people. With four Emmy Awards and a credit list that includes everything from Star Trek, MacGyver, Lois and Clarke to Titanic, The Social Network, Harry Potter, X-Men and The Twilight Saga, Howard has assisted Hollywood giants such as James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to realise their own screen dreams. In this expansive Q&A with Adam Howard, he talks about getting his foot in the visual effects door in LA, and urges all those upcoming “tech-heads” to follow their passion as “crazy dreams CAN and do come true.”

Howard loves the collective filmmaking process and the magic that can be created with new technologies, but at the same time admits that part of the art of visual effects is knowing when to capture scenes the old-fashioned way – in camera. A diehard fan of Peter Weir’s classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, Howard remains in awe of the haunting simplicity and beauty of Weir’s Australian classic.

Adam Howard is one of our newest AACTA members, and we’re proud to welcome such accomplished filmmakers into the new Australian Academy. In coming months, we look forward to sharing more of these profiles with you as we turn the Member Spotlight onto more performers and practitioners – both those working at home, and those like Howard, who fly the flag abroad.

Note: If you would like to propose yourself or a colleague for the AACTA Member Spotlight interviews, please email membership@afi.org.au.

AFI | AACTA: How long have you been living in LA? Was it your work that first took you there?

Adam Howard: I have lived in California for the past 21 years.

I first came to LA with the dream of working on Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver. They were two of the biggest shows on TV at the time.  It was a bit of a pipe dream but I went for it anyway.

I had been trying to meet the head of the biggest post production company in LA, The Post Group for about two years but it was difficult doing it from Melbourne, pre-internet and pre-email. I had been talking with his client, who was the head of post production at Paramount Pictures, as I thought that might be a good way to get to meet with him. I called his client one day and he said, “look this is all well and good but you are so far away [in Australia] and I just don’t think I can help you”. I told him, “I am on Melrose Blvd about five minutes away from the studio.” He was very surprised, and told me to come right in. When I got to his office he asked if I had a [show]reel. I did have a reel, which I had created as a short film at AAV in South Melbourne [now Digital Pictures]. I asked him if he wanted to see it and he said, “no”. He then picked up the phone and called The Post Group’s assistant and told her that he had a guy in his office who had the very best demo reel he had ever seen! I nearly died.

I met with The Post Group but they told me that the could not hire me. A bit disappointed after all that effort, I went on to meet with Richard Edlund at Boss Films in Marina Del Rey. He liked my reel and said that he was planning to start a small “digital effects” department and that if I was ever back in LA he would give me a job. At the time, digital effects in Hollywood were in an extremely early stage of development and were only really being used for TV. I realised that the experience I’d had at ABC-TV and AAV with digital paint, effects and animation was going to be pivotal to my getting a job in LA.

Howard on the set of Star Trek The Next Generation


So I went back home and after a short time, packed my  bags and made the move to LA. Unfortunately Boss had not made the move to digital quite yet and I ended up working for ABC Television in Hollywood. Seven months into my stay at ABC, the phone rang and it was the old head of The Post Group. He told me why he had not hired me. He was leaving The Post Group to start his own visual effects company called Digital Magic and he wanted me to join the company as the assistant to the senior animator on… Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver.

I started the following week and at the end of the first month there, the senior animator (who has sadly since passed away but who became a dear friend over the years) told me that he was leaving to go to Industrial Light & Magic to work on Hook. The following Monday, my boss came in and told me that I was now the new lead animator on Star Trek. About a year later I also became lead animator on MacGyver. So you see, crazy dreams can and DO come true!!!

AFI | AACTA: You were born and raised in Melbourne. What do you miss most about Australia?

Adam Howard: My family. My Mum and Dad live in Deepdene and my brother is also in Melbourne. My kids were both born in LA but they now live in Melbourne too.

The one thing that is really lovely to hear is when friends and co workers from the States go to Australia to do film projects either in production or post production positions, they always come back saying how much they love the country and the people. Aussies just have a truly beautiful way about them that is unlike anywhere else in the world. They are funny, warm and always make people feel at home.

AFI | AACTA: What first inspired you to work in visual effects?

Adam starring in NHK

Howard as a child star on the Japanese television show NHK

Adam Howard: I lived with my family in Tokyo Japan for three years between the ages of five and seven. I remember watching a kid’s TV show where there was a costume character man with a donkey’s head. The camera was on the ground in a sports stadium looking up one of the stairways between the seats of the stadium and this character was trying to run from the top down to the camera. He would get half way down and then pop back up to the top. He kept getting more and more frustrated every time his efforts were thwarted and I remember thinking…“I have no idea how that is happening but I want to do it”.

Shortly after, I ended up as a child actor on NHK in Tokyo, which was a blast. Then of course the big influence, was Star Wars. I doubt that there are many people working in visual effects from my age group who were not influenced by George’s amazing films. They just opened up the world to a whole new scale of storytelling and demonstrated how technology could be used to create visions on a much vaster scale than they had ever been created before.

AFI | AACTA: What do you enjoy most about your craft?

Adam Howard: Storytelling! It is all about the story. An old friend of mine, Linwood Dunn, was basically the creator of visual effects compositing when he created the Acme Dunn Optical Printer back in the early 20th century. He created the optical effects for King Kong, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane and West Side Story…Yes he was a legend! He once told me when I asked him what I should do [in order to have] a long career in visual effects…“You only have one job in this business and it is to serve the story. The minute someone looks at a shot and says, ‘Wow what a great visual effects shot!’, you’ve failed. You have to spend your entire life doing shots that no one will ever notice. It’s always about telling the story.”

I have lived by those words ever since and they have served me well. Thanks Lin.

AFI | AACTA: What does a typical working day look like to you?

Adam Howard: It really depends on the stage of the project. In pre-production a lot of time is spent in the office working out exactly how to pull off a shot and working with the director on pre-viz [pre-visualisation] to help tell the story the best way we can.

Once on set, it is really no different than everyone else’s day on the set – long hours, little sleep and high stress. But with everyone’s creativity running at full steam it is a wonderful experience. Some of the most fun days are the ones when a shot that has been planned for months has to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances, and you have to think fast and on your feet. There really is no substitute for experience in those circumstances.

Once we get to post-production, it is just about making sure that everything looks right and that you are giving your crew good, accurate and helpful direction. I think having sat in the artist’s seat for so many years has helped me as a Supervisor. Post-production crews on shows I have supervised can range from a small handful of people to a few hundred. I always appreciated directors and supervisors who took the time to really explain what they had in their mind’s eye, and I try to do the same when I am with my crews – down to the tiniest details.


Howard on location of TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN

Someone asked me once to describe what exactly it is that I do. Imagine that you have to show someone a photograph of a car parked in the middle of a busy bustling city but all you have to start with is an empty page. You have to create the car, the light on the car, the glass, the shadows, the reflections. Then you have to do the same thing for every other object in the photo. Not just the big things like buildings, the sky, trees and people, but also the tiny things like the rust on a water down spout, dirty smudges on windows, bird droppings on the ground, cigarette wrappers in the gutter. It might sound ridiculous but it is all those tiny details that are the things that fool a human brain into believing that what they are seeing is real. Now, do 24 of those images every second and make it feel real and you are on your way to making something feel totally believable.

AFI | AACTA: If you had to name three people who have had a significant impact on you over your life, who would they be?

Adam Howard: Well unfortunately I cannot name just three. There have been hundreds of people who have had a significant impact on my life but there are seven who I would like to mention in particular.

First and foremost is Rick Rowton. He was my art teacher at Scotch College in Melbourne. Rick had come from teaching art in the prison systems of Victoria to teaching us. What he brought with him was a mind that knew no boundaries in art. To him, everything was art and he let us all explore everything until we found the things we were passionate about doing. He was the one who recognised that I should be focusing on art studies and he helped my parents point me in the right direction. I will be forever in his debt. I consider him to have been my greatest mentor and a true friend. Sadly, he passed away many years ago and I never got to thank him personally.

Second and third: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

I can’t separate them as the films they made together helped shape the way I approach filmmaking. They are master filmmakers and I have been blessed to not only be inspired by them but also work with them on a number of feature film projects when I was working at ILM [Industrial Light & Magic].

Fouth: Harold Freedman.

Harold was the State Artist for Victoria and I was lucky enough to work with him on a couple of the big mosaic murals he did for public spaces in and around Melbourne. The main one I worked on was The History of Fire mural which is on the side of the Fire Brigade building in East Melbourne. I laid out a large amount of the fire in that mural along with David Jack and Joe Attard. Harold taught me everything I know about colour. The glass in those murals was my first real experience of mixing colour with pixels. They were just very large ones but the principal is the same. Up close it all looks like a bit of a mess but from a distance it makes a single, cohesive image.

Fifth: James Cameron

I worked with Jim on two of his films, Titanic and Ghosts of the Abyss. I also worked very briefly about seven years ago on some very early tests for the characters in Avatar. He tells stories on a grand scale and never takes no for an answer. The other thing about Jim is that he is one of the smartest people I know. When he asks you to do something, it is because he knows it will work. He is fascinated by the entire filmmaking process and brings that enthusiasm to his productions on every level.

Sixth: Jim Henson

I met Jim when I was about 19 and he offered me a job on The Muppet Show, if I ever made it to New York. I never took him up on the offer but imagine if I had! My entire life could have been very different. He inspired me to be unafraid of breaking the rules. The Muppets are a truly brilliant creation. He was able to tell stories to people of any age and nationality without the restrictions of language and have every one of those people understand exactly what he was saying. Not many people in this business can lay claim to that. He let people learn how to laugh all over again. That is an incredible gift to the world and he is sorely missed. He had the most incredible imagination, something I doubt we will ever see the like of again.

Seventh: Linwood Dunn

Of course. He was the original visual effects guy. He showed me what was important in this business and helped me understand how to go about doing it.

AFI | AACTA: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during your career?

Adam Howard: Time away from family and friends. As the business has evolved, more and more production is done away from home due to tax incentives (in part) and so we have to go where the work is. I have been very lucky to travel all over the world doing this job but it is always good to come home at the end of the job.

AFI | AACTA: What have been the highlights?

Adam accepting an Emmy

Howard accepting 1 of his 4 Emmy Awards

A few things. The people first! Film crews and visual effects teams are a whole breed unto themselves. Thrown together from all walks of life and nationalities and in a very short time you become a family. It really is like that too, I’m not just saying it. I have stayed friends with people who I have worked with throughout my entire career. You spend so much time with people on a film, you end up with a very personal bond that lasts forever. Winning the Emmy Awards was amazing. I was nominated twice in my first year in the States and won both of them. It’s pretty hard to beat that. Another highlight was going to the Academy Awards the year that Armageddon was nominated for Best Visual Effects. We didn’t win but it was a blast just to be there and walk the red carpet.

AFI | AACTA: Has the nature of your work changed dramatically over time due to the advancements in technology and 3D imaging?

Adam Howard: It certainly has. When I first started in the business at ABC in Elsternwick I was working in the Graphics Department. We made all the graphics for all the shows and it was all handmade. There were no computers, there was no Photoshop and most importantly no internet. We had to do research and we kept every magazine we could get our hands on for photo reference. Then came the Quantel Classic Paintbox. I was one of the first group of paintbox artists in the world and I remember saying to the head of the department that I felt this was the next major industrial revolution staring us in the face. I was only about 17 at the time but it was just so obvious that this tool had the potential to have a huge impact on the way we did everything.

Adam with the Harry Potter cast and crew

Howard (3rd from the left) with the cast and crew of HARRY POTTER

Since then, of course, we have now come to live in a world unimaginable without computers. Visual Effects that would either have been virtually impossible or cost way too much to be practical can now be done at home. It is amazing how times have changed. It is always wonderful to see new technologies and new ways of thinking coming forward in this business. I think because we work in an industry which thrives on creating fantasy, we get the opportunity to try things that have not yet been invented and make them happen. Just look at the Star Trek communicator and modern day cell phones. They are one and the same. Buck Rogers’ fantastic laser beams are now standard in every DVD player.

On location of Unknown

Working with Greenscreen on the set of UNKNOWN (2011)

With all this wonderful advent of technology though, I think it is really important to remember as filmmakers that not everything needs to be done with a computer. Sometimes the very best way to get a shot is to spend the extra time to get it in camera. I had that come up just recently when we shot Unknown in Berlin, with Liam Neeson and director Jaume Colett-Serra. The car chase through the centre of the city could have been a huge green screen shoot but we all decided collectively that the best way to do it for the highest quality “look” was to pull out every different kind of camera and car rig around and put them to work. It made for a truly thrilling sequence, partly because the actors were actually travelling the streets of Berlin so their reactions were absolutely real.

AFI | AACTA: You’ve won four Primetime Emmys for your work on Star Trek and have been nominated for Enterprise. What does it mean for you to have won these awards specifically for your craft?

Adam's Emmy Collection

Howard's Emmy Award collection

Adam Howard: When I was growing up in Melbourne there were two nights of the year when I was always home watching the TV. Emmy night and Oscar night. I always wanted to go just to stand out the front and watch the crowd go into the ceremony, so to be nominated and then win was beyond a dream come true. I have been very lucky indeed. To be recognised for doing what is regarded in the business as the best work for the year is an incredibly humbling honour.

AFI | AACTA: What advice would you give upcoming Australian Visual Effects Supervisors wanting to make it in Hollywood?

Adam Howard: Never stop learning. Never give up. Never stop pursuing your dreams. Anything and everything is possible if you set your mind to it. Make lots of friends in the business in every facet of the business. This is truly a team effort.

AFI | AACTA: Do you see yourself returning to work in Australia in the future?

Adam Howard: I would love to work in Australia again. It is so exciting to see the wonderful and brilliant work that keeps on coming out of Australia. Australian film crews are regarded as some of the best in the world and it would be a great thrill to do a film there.

AFI | AACTA: What is your all time favourite Australian film? Why?

Adam Howard: Again, there are many but if I had to pick just one, it would be Picnic at Hanging Rock. Peter Weir is a genius. He created a film that is truly terrifying and yet all that scares you is purely in your mind. It is also one of the most hauntingly beautiful films to watch, thanks to Russell Boyd’s magnificent cinematography. Combine all that with David Copping’s wonderful art direction and Gheorghe Zamfir and Bruce Smeaton’s score and you have a true masterpiece of filmmaking.

It was a great thrill for me to work with Peter Weir on Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He should be revered as one of Australia’s film treasures.

AFI | AACTA: Thank you for sharing your time with us.