In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer sets out to join a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

We spoke to creator, producer, writer and lead actor Piéra Forde, as well as producer and VFX designer Caleb De Leon about how the adaptation of Nevernight (AUS) came to life and the experience of creating a high-fantasy series in Australia.

Why choose the web format?

We were lucky enough to receive funding from Screen Australia, YouTube and Google as part of the 2019 Skip Ahead program, which allowed us to present a short form narrative on Piéra’s YouTube channel. The channel has a loyal following of fantasy books lovers, so it was the perfect platform to launch Nevernight, especially as a proof of concept to garner attention for a larger scale production in the future.

What was it like designing the story and world of Nevernight?

Luckily for us most of the work was done for us as it was adapted from New York Times Best-Selling author Jay Kristoff’s adult high-fantasy novels. Adapting a novel is always a challenge in itself to ensure that the story is still able to be told in a different medium, especially in such a short amount of time. We worked closely with the author whilst adapting the novel so that we could remain as true to the source material as possible, and where we had to stray, ensuring that it still aligned with his overall creation of the story.

Nevernight Trailer

What was it like filming on certain locations?

Originally we thought shooting high fantasy on a low budget in the middle of Brisbane was the hardest thing we could have decided to do, but our incredible Production Design team was able to bring the fantasy setting of Nevernight to life. We shot in two different castles and a sandscape desert, each with their own challenges. Once the locations were dressed and set, it was so easy to fall into the fiction of the world because the film so heavily relied on it. It was easy to believe you were walking down the halls of a school for assassins, or that you were weeks into a long desert trek.

Has the end product strayed far from your initial vision?

If anything, it was more than we could have hoped for.

What is your favourite part of the series?

P: The first day on set was surreal. It was the last scene in the series so that moment of realisation we see on Mia’s face as she finally reaches her goal was 100% my actual face realising I’d really adapted my favourite book to film. Plus, the fact that I was able to bring my favourite book to life with a bunch of incredibly talented people is a feeling you can’t beat.

C: Favourite part of the series actually never made it to the screen! When we were originally adapting it, we wrote 10 episodes that adapt roughly three-quarters of the novel. My favourite scene is one of the climactic moments from the penultimate episode (that never got made). From the series itself, I think my favourite scene is the end of episode 2 when Mia and Tric meet for the first time. The setting, cinematography, music and edit all work so wonderfully together for some palpable tension!

What was your greatest challenge creating the series?

P: In the beginning it was definitely figuring out how we were going to tell a snippet of this epic story in such a short amount of time, on a pretty tight budget whilst staying true to the source material. From reworking the scripts, to bringing on the best people for the job, to finding these near impossible locations, everything seemed overwhelming, not to mention losing a whole day of shooting to weather. The fact that we were able to dig deep to pull it off, and have the series be so well received is truly a testament to how hard the team worked and how tenaciously we worked to be able to bring this beast to life.

C: Greatest challenge I think was the scale and ambition of the project. We always knew we were going to be facing an uphill struggle to bring a world of this scale to life in Brisbane, Australia. In pre-production when people kept trying to warn us, it was very easy to laugh it off and say, “We know, we know. What you aren’t taking into account is our stubbornness.” Ultimately, it seems that our tenacity won out and we actually pulled it off!

What plans do you have for the future of Nevernight?

We’re working towards developing it as a long-form broadcast series. Ideally finding a home on Netflix or HBO is the dream. Mia’s story is one of passion, heartache and triumph, which we believe will resonate with a large audience, especially considering the success of fantasy book adaptations like ​Game of Thrones, ​The Witcher ​and ​Lord of the Rings, ​it proves there is a market out there.