Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mad Mad Max: Fury Road - Notes from a Q & A with George Miller

George Miller was incredibly gracious after a Q & A post a screening of Fury Road on January 8.  Below are a few notes I took away.

--"Now my kids are grown up and I could finally get back to Mad Max."

--Tom Hardy was 6 six weeks old when they shot the first Mad Max.

--"It's obviously an action movie.  But we tried to put as much 'under the tit' as we could."  (At least I think that's what he said, meaning, of course, substance/subtext.)

--Miller talked about loving Breaking Bad and having just met Vince Gilligan and seen a clip of Better Call Saul at an AFI Awards event earlier, and how great it was to watch it and laugh with an audience--that just doesn't happen when you're watching at home, which is why he loves going to the movies.  

--Miller stated that everything--even the vehicles, the Citadel, the guitar player--in the film had a backstory, and that Max's backstory might be told one day.  (I've also read that we might get Furiosa's backstory as well.)

--He disclosed that he viewed the flashbacks Max has to the boy as not Max's own lost child but a boy he met afterwards, along the way.

--Miller extensively storyboarded (approximately 3,500 boards) the entire film around a room with collaborators before he contemplated a single word of dialogue.  There was also a bit of improvisation on the set.

--Cinematographer John Seale was building his own sailboat when Miller lured him out of retirement to do the film.  Seale turned 70 during the filming, and did much of the camera operating himself, including under and inside the truck, using new, smaller, digital technology.

--The editing process with Margaret Sixel (Miller's wife) was like "visual music," like doing a "massive Rubik's cube."  (For the record, I'd read that the film has over 2800 cuts--something around 1250 - 1500 is the norm for most films.)

--Someone in the audience asked about frames that appeared to have been dropped out "when things get wild" (hah---most of the time).  Miller smiled and said they initially did it accidentally on The Road Warrior, liked it, and then deliberately did so in this for a "staccato effect."

--And finally, Miller said he values "the movies that follow me the longest out of the cinema"; i.e., the ones he never forgets.  When I asked him later what a few of those movies are, he told me Godfather II, How Green Was My Valley, and Kubrick.  No wonder I like Miller's films so much!

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