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George Miller on the making of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

We get behind-the-scenes on Furiosa with its director George Miller...

George Miller on the making of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the follow-up to one of our favourite action films of all time, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

This new Max Max epic is the prequel. It covers how Furiosa ended up in the wasteland, leading up to the events of Fury Road. It is also a true action powerhouse that has more world-building, more diverse locations, even bigger action than Fury Road. And we get a much deeper look into the strange and unsettling characters from that film.

We sat down with the film’s director, George Miller, for a look into all things Furiosa. There were tales about how it was made, some stories from the previous films and a look at what might be next for the Mad Max saga.

We’ve stayed spoiler-free, apart from one tiny bit that will be clearly signposted. Here’s what you need to know about Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Let’s fire up those engines.

George Miller on the making of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

It's a return to the roots of Mad Max in one important way. Furiosa: A Mad Saga was shot in Silverton, Broken Hill in Australia.

Broken Hill is in the centre of Australia. It's a big mining town. So there's an infrastructure and that's where we shot Mad Max 2 and parts of Mad Max 3. It's where we intended and prepared to shoot Fury Road."

… and Furiosa was much less of a nightmare to shoot than Fury Road

[For Fury Road] we built roads out in the flat, red desert. We built all our vehicles out in Broken Hill and then it rained in a way that it hadn't done for 15 years, and the water tables underneath a desert filled with water. And pretty soon, with the seeds waiting underneath to flourish, we suddenly had a get a garden about shoulder high — a beautiful garden. And it didn't go away. We couldn't shoot there. So we waited about 18 months, it really didn't go away.

“We ended up going to a place where it doesn’t rain. That's in Namibia, South Africa. That's how we ended up there.”

Furiosa was shot at high frame rates, but not for the reason you might guess

One of the things that I learned from those early Mad Max films is to use variable speed. Back then, I remember on the first film, someone suggested shooting at at a lower frame rates. Instead of 24 frames shoot at 22 or 20 frames and then everything will be sped up.

"But I didn't want to do that. I thought it’ll look fake. And by the time we got into post production, I had to speed up some shots that were too slow compared to the shots before and the rhythm was out. But we could only double the speed we can only print every second frame. So it was 12 frames or 24 frames.

"By the time I got to two Mad Max two, we were shooting some shots at 20 frames, 22 frames, 18 frames. You’ve have to guess.

"By the time we got to Fury Road and Furiosa a lot of say a lot of scenes were shot at 48 frames [per second], because it gives you that extra footage so you can not only speed things up, you can slow down things very, very subtly. So you can play with the rhythms within the shot in a way that you couldn't do in the past.”

While the action is more epic than Fury Road, it's still all about story and character

There was no “we've got to do something that's fancier or tops Fury Road” [for Furiosa]. It's all driven by story and the story is driven by characters.

“If you do that, it just becomes sort of almost a hollow exercise in just getting bigger and better for its own sake. The characters and the relationship with characters, those sequences grew out of that.”

What does Furiosa have in common with the old Mad Max films? Wide angle lenses

One of the things we did back then and we still do is a bias towards wider lenses, which provide a much more three dimensional sense of space.

“If you move a camera and a wider lens, you feel like you're moving through space, even though it's just a two-dimensional screen. So there are things that I realised were better way back when we did those early ones."

Furiosa was easier to make behind the scenes too

"[This time] our relationship with the studio was way better. Warner Bros., back when we shot [Fury Road] was pretty chaotic. They’ve since had three parent companies and this is the fourth regime.

“They're much more focused, their approach to filmmaking is much more collaborative than it was adversarial. So that was I think the biggest difference [in Furiosa’s production]."

[Minor spoilers] There’s more Mad Max in the tank, with Mad Max: The Wasteland in George Miller’s sights

In the same way we wrote Furiosa in order to inform the making of Fury Road, we wrote The Wasteland to tell us what happened to Max in the year before we bump into him in Fury Road.

We even see him lurking briefly in Furiosa’s story. That guy on the hill? Just before Furiosa collapses and is taken to the maggot farm? That was Max."

So if we do get the long-rumoured Mad Max: The Wasteland, it’s looking like another prequel, rather than one that leads on from the action of Fury Road.

There’s also tea to spill about the making of Fury Road. Back to George Miller…

As is well recorded now, there was trouble between Tom Hardy and Charlize [Theron].

“They were very different in their approach to acting. Charlize is highly disciplined, very committed to her character, and she was always first on set before any of the other actors. And Tom was always last on set. For some reason It was hard to get him of the out of his trailer. There was a clash about that.

“The two characters basically begin the film where they both think it's better to kill each other for their own survival, and they end up at the end of the film, surviving only because they cooperate. They have this positive regard to each other.

"I don't know how much of that that progression affected the relationship. But all the rest of the cast and crew were just great. And they were able to withstand the problems of the studio and whatever turbulence came from them. In this film there was none of that.

"The studio was very, very cooperative and there to make the best film we could make and it's been great so far, really great."

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in cinemas now