Canadian Set Decorator Nancy Niksic on working with Warner Bros and joining the SDSA

Originally from Victoria, British Columbia, Nancy Niksic was always passionate about movies. She realized from an early age that she wanted to work in the film industry. While working in the restaurant business, she wasn’t sure how to make her dreams a reality. Nancy decided to take a leap of faith and move across the country to Toronto. There, a friend who worked in production design, asked for some help – and she jumped at the chance. 

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It was a fateful decision that started Niksic on a rewarding path. Nancy established herself as a highly desired and sought-after set decorator and set designer. She is recognized by the esteemed Canadian Film Industry. 

Niksic, with over 30 years of experience, is known throughout the industry for her work ethic and creativity. She brings insight, knowledge and humor to each set. Some highlights include: The Truth About Head directed by the award-winning Dale Heslip. The film won four awards at The Cannes Film Festival in France, including the prestigious Kodak Short Film Award and The Prix Regards June Award. 

Nancy also worked on The Amazing Race Canada. A job that found her and her crew travelling all over the globe. The Amazing Race Canada was the biggest series debut ever in Canada and most-watched show in Canadian history.

Niksic’s design work has contributed to the success of countless commercials for major international brands. Award winning spots for clients such as Walmart, T-Mobile, Xbox, Tim Horton’s, and Bell Canada (among many others) can be found on her impressive resume. She was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Non-Fiction Program or Series for her work on ‘A Russell Peters Christmas Special’ in 2013. 

“My job is very rewarding. Set decorating and design combines artistry and vision…with a bit of chaos too!”, Niksic laughs, “This combination forces one to sink or swim, and fortunately I’ve learned to swim.”

“When a director, actor or crew member walks on set, they are looking for an environment that works as an extension of the story, and an extension of each character. When successful, this dressed or ‘created’ environment reinforces the scripted ‘reality’”.

Smiling, Niksic adds, “this collaborative effort is really the essence of ‘movie magic’. I find this to be the most rewarding part of my job.”

This diversity is her strength, and Nancy is always looking for ways to move forward as she seeks opportunity and challenges. Los Angeles serves as a mecca for the film industry, so Niksic made the choice to cross the border and now calls West Hollywood, California home. 

Once Nancy moved to Los Angeles, she was able to join the SDSA, the Set Decorators Society of America. It is a non-profit, founded in 1933 and is the only international organization dedicated to the support of the past, present, and future of the profession.  Members include qualified Set Decorators of Motion Pictures and Television including commercials and music videos, as well as business members who provide furnishings, materials, and professional services to the trade. 

Their mission is to promote the highest standards of excellence in the field worldwide, and to entertain, inspire, teach and preserve the legacy of set decoration in motion pictures and television. It is a tremendous honor to be included in this prestigious group of professionals.

“I was very happy to join the SDSA. Being part of this wonderful and supportive community is, for me, what the film industry is all about. When I initially moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know anyone…and being a part of this organization has opened doors and provided opportunities to meet and collaborate with like-minded professionals”, says Niksic. 

Most recently, Niksic has been working with the Warner Bros. Property Department. It is the oldest, largest and arguably foremost prop rental facility in Hollywood.  The facility has been in place on the Warner Bros. Studio lot for 95 years, and houses over 490,000 items across 240,000 square feet in 4 locations in and around Los Angeles. They serve filmmakers across the globe, providing props and set dressing to every possible production from still shoots to major film projects. They service their own WB projects, over 60 television programs and feature films such as the Matrix, Tenet and the Batman franchise as well as all major streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV.

WB Property Department is the only prop rental facility with a full time, in-house set decorator on staff, and Niksic fills this one-of-a-kind position as well as customer liaison. This position is special in that it offers customers a peer and a trusted resource when dealing with the many challenges and changes faced by modern filmmaking. 

The role is highly specialized and provides customers with enhanced customer service via a personalized shopping experience tailored to their needs. For Niksic, this tailored position is the culmination of hard work, pushing the boundaries and a sincere effort while doing a job that she loves. 

Here, she can contribute to multiple projects on the Warner Bros. property all at once. Niksic is the first and only person ever to hold this title.

“I like working at WB because my position is so unique. I get to decorate and create these really fun showroom vignettes and I’m still working with people in the film industry. I assist on numerous projects – some are local, some across the country or overseas. I’ve also met so many wonderful crew members, fellow set decorators, production designers, set buyers and set dressers. More than I normally would working on a set,” she said.

Niksic moved from her home of Canada to Los Angeles to continue working in film. It was a big risk, but she is now amongst the top of her industry worldwide. For anyone questioning following their dreams, she is the epitome of a success story.

Photo of Nancy Niksic on set by Chris Dechert.

Photo of Nancy Niksic headshot by Frank W. Ockenfels 3

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