The great thing about Mad Max: Fury Road is that George Miller comes full circle in a surprisingly powerful way, reminding us what was so brilliant about his post-apocalyptic vision in the first place while stepping it up with even greater visual and visceral force. Good thing, too, that he lured veteran cinematographer John Seale out of retirement because it was an invigorating journey for both of them.
“131 days mostly in Namibia. It’s made up of little pieces [2,700 cuts] like a Rubik’s cube and you couldn’t shoot the big master shots. The symmetry of the two road warriors (Tom Hardy and Charlize Thereon) is a nice addition. It was always a western on wheels but with lots of allegorical subtext,” Miller explained.
Even more so with most of the action confined to Furiosa’s War Rig, which is like a steampunk stagecoach, accompanied by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbbey Lee and Courtney Eaton. And the filmmakers couldn’t have shot it without a particularly mobile and light-weight set-up: Alexas and Canon 5Ds (as crash cams for action) along with the Edge Arm crane for total immersion.
“It’s a crane arm with a camera on it, which allowed us to get right in there much more kinetically,” Miller continued. “It was like being in the middle of a video game. So to have things like that and to go out and do the film as old school practical without green screen and so on was exciting and very arduous.”
For Oscar winner Seale (The English Patient), who shot Lorenzo’s Oil for Miller, this was actually his first digital experience. He had little prep but with a great crew was able to get up to speed almost instantly. “I prefer to be more interested in what a camera’s recording rather than how it’s recording,” he said. “As long as I can get an image I’m happy with, I’ll shoot it on anything, really.”
Seale added, “The whole thing was unrolling and unraveling by the day… because this mobile Edge camera equipment made the movie. I was watching the dailies and it was amazing stuff — and there are 300 stunts. But I was worried that it was too good for our movie — too smooth and too commercial-like. But I was assured by visual effects [overseen by Andrew Jackson] that they could increase the amount of movement in it to match our bungee-strung main unit cameras in post. So I relaxed a hell of a lot. I’d say around 40-45% of our film was shot with that thing and we had two of them out in Namibia.
Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.