Showing posts with label post production. Show all posts
Showing posts with label post production. Show all posts

SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury RoadGeorge Miller | 2015 | Australia, USA | Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema (also 3-D version)  | 120 min

Mad Max is essentially one long chase scene. But what a complicated and thrilling chase scene it is. It surprises me none to find out that George Miller, the director, created a storyboard comic book to map out the shooting of the film from logistics to aesthetics. Storyboards and concept art are important tools for filmmakers but even moreso for filmmakers making action movies.

Below is a compendium of links to articles on the making of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read, watch, enjoy but don't forget to take notes.

The making of Mad Max: Fury Road (according to Wikipedia)


Plans for a fourth film in the Mad Max series hit financial difficulties and the project spent several years in "development hell".[17] The idea for a fourth installment occurred to Miller in August 1998 when he was walking in an intersection in Los Angeles.[18] About a year later, while travelling from Los Angeles to Australia, the idea coalesced. Miller conceived of a story where "violent marauders were fighting, not for oil or for material goods, but for human beings."[18] The film was set to shoot in 2001 through 20th Century Fox, but was postponed because of the September 11 attacks that same year.[19] "The American dollar collapsed against the Australian dollar, and our budget ballooned," Miller said that he "had to move on to Happy Feet, because there was a small window when that was ready." Mel Gibson, who starred in the original three previous films, was also set to reprise his role as the lead character. Miller ended up re-casting the role because of controversies surrounding Gibson and because he wanted Max to remain at a younger age, as the "same contemporary warrior".[18] Miller announced in 2003 that a script had been written for a fourth film, and that pre-production was in the early stages.[20] Although the project was given the green light for a US$100 million budget to begin filming in Australia in May 2003, Mad Max 4 entered hiatus because of security concerns related to trying to film in Namibia because the United States and many other countries had tightened travel and shipping restrictions.[21] With the outbreak of the Iraq WarMad Max 4 was abandoned as it was considered a potentially politically sensitive film. Although Gibson had been cast to return as Max, he lost interest after production was cancelled.[21]

Director George Miller announced in 2003 that a script had been written for a fourth film, and that pre-production was in the early stages.
In November 2006, Miller stated that he intended to make Fury Road, and considered doing the film without Gibson: "There's a real hope. The last thing I wanted to do is another Mad Max, but this script came along, and I'm completely carried away with it."[22][23] The film's screenplay was co-written with cult British comic creator Brendan McCarthy, who also designed many of the new characters and vehicles.[24] Miller again confirmed his intention to make another Mad Max at the 2007 Aurora film maker initiative. However, he stated that he thought Gibson would not be interested in the film because of his age.[25][26] Heath Ledgerwas reportedly considered for the lead before he died from combined drug intoxication in 2008.[18] On 5 March 2009, it was announced that an R-rated 3D animated feature film was in pre-production and would be taking much of the plot from Fury Road,[27] although Gibson would not be in the film and Miller was looking for a "different route", a "renaissance" of the franchise.[27] Miller cited the film Akira as an inspiration for what he wanted to do with the franchise. Miller was also developing an action-adventure tie-in video game based on the fourth film, along with God of War II video game designer Cory Barlog. Both projects were expected to take two to two-and-a-half years, according to Miller, with a release date of either 2011 or 2012. Fury Road was going to be produced at Dr. D Studios, a digital art studios founded in 2008 by Miller and Doug Mitchell.[27]
On 18 May 2009, it was reported that location scouting was underway for Mad Max 4.[28] After exploring the possibility of an animated 3D film, Miller decided instead to shoot a 3D live action film.[28] By this time, production had moved to Warner Bros.[19]
In October 2009, Miller announced that principal photography on Fury Road would commence at Broken Hill, New South Wales in early 2011, ending years of speculation.[29] This announcement attracted widespread media attention in Australia, with speculation on whether Gibson would return as Max.[30] That same month, British actor Tom Hardy was in negotiations to take the lead role of Max, while it was also announced that Charlize Theron would play a major role in the film.[31] In June 2010, Hardy (who was just six weeks old when the originalMad Max began shooting) announced on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross that he would play the title role.[18][32] In July 2010, Miller announced plans to shoot twoMad Max films back-to-back, entitled Mad Max: Fury Road and Mad Max: Furiosa.[33] In November 2011, filming was moved from Broken Hill to Namibia, after unexpected heavy rains turned the desert there into a lush landscape of wildflowers, inappropriate for the look of the movie.[34]
In a July 2014 interview at San Diego Comic-Con International, Miller said he designed the film in storyboard form before writing the screenplay, working with five storyboard artists. It came out as about 3,500 panels, almost the same number of shots as in the finished film. He wanted the film to be almost a continuous chase, with relatively little dialogue, and to have the visuals come first.[35] Paraphrasing Alfred Hitchcock, Miller said that he wanted the film to be understood in Japan without the use of subtitles.[36]


Principal photography began in July 2012 in Namibia.[37] Filming also took place at Potts Hill and Penrith Lakes in Western Sydney.[38] In October 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Warner Bros. sent an executive to keep the production on track.[39] The filming wrapped on 17 December 2012[40] and lasted for 120 days.[19] In February 2013, a leaked draft from the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management group accused the producers of damaging parts of theNamib Desert, endangering a number of plant and animal species.[41][42] However, the Namibia Film Commission said it had "no reservations" after visiting the set during production. It disputed claims reported in the media, calling the accusations "unjust rhetoric".[43] In September 2013, it was announced that the film would undergo reshoots in November 2013.[44]
Cinematographer John Seale, who came out of retirement to shoot Fury Road,[45] outfitted his camera crew with six Arri Alexa Pluses and four Alexa Ms, as well as a number of Canon EOS 5Ds and Olympus PEN E-P5s that were used as crash cams for the action sequences.[46][47]
In July 2014, director George Miller described the film as "a very simple allegory, almost a western on wheels".[48] Miller said that 90% of the effects werepractical.[49] Second unit director and supervising stunt coordinator Guy Norris was in charge of over 150 stunt performers, which included Cirque du Soleilperformers and Olympic athletes.[45][50] Miller invited playwright Eve Ensler to act as an on-set adviser. Impressed with the script's depth and what she saw as feminist themes, she spent a week in Namibia, where she spoke to the actors about issues of violence against women.[51]


The lead visual effects company for Mad Max: Fury Road was Iloura, who delivered more than 1,500 effects shots for the film.[52] Additional visual effects studios that worked on the film include Method Studios, Stereo D, 4DMax, BlackGinger, The Third Floor, and Dr. D Studios.[53][54] The film contains about 2,700 cuts of its entire running length, which is equivalent to 22.5 cuts per minute compared The Road Warrior's 1,200 cuts of its 90-minute running time equivalent to 13.33 cuts per minute.[55] The frame rate was also manipulated. "Something like 50 or 60 percent of the film is not running at 24 frames a second, which is the traditional frame rate," said Seale. "It'll be running below 24 frames because George, if he couldn't understand what was happening in the shot, he slowed it down until you could. Or if it was too well understood, he'd shorten it or he'd speed it up back towards 24. His manipulation of every shot in that movie is intense."[56]
The extensive effects work included altering lighting and time of day, weather effects, terrain replacement, and plate composition.[57] Night scenes were filmed in bright daylight, deliberately overexposed, and color-manipulated. In many shots, the sky was digitally replaced with more detailed or interesting skies. Charlize Theron wore a green cover over her left arm to aid effects artists in digitally removing her arm from her scenes.
Weta Digital was originally involved with the film when it was scheduled for a 2012 release.[58] The company was to be handling visual effects, conceptual designs, specialty make-up effects, and costume designs until production was postponed from its November 2010 start date.[59]


The musical score for Mad Max: Fury Road was written by the Dutch composer Junkie XL.[60] Prior to Junkie XL's involvement, John Powell and Marco Beltramiwere attached at separate times to score the film.[61][62] After hearing Junkie XL's score for 300: Rise of an Empire,[63] Miller met with the composer in Sydney. "I got very inspired and started writing pieces of music for scenes," said Junkie XL. "The initial main themes were written in the four weeks after that first meeting and those themes never changed."[64] A soundtrack album was released by WaterTower Music on 12 May 2015.[65]

Mad Max: Fury Road: Behind the Scenes and George Miller interview

WIRED: What It Takes To Make The Most Intense Movie Ever

Despite the advances in CG, you shot Fury Road as much as possible in-camera with practical effects. Why?
It’s not a fantasy film. It doesn’t have dragons and spaceships. It’s a film very rooted to Earth. A kind of crazy demented quality to everyone’s behavior arises out of this extreme, elemental, post­apocalyptic world. We needed to make it feel as real as possible.

A Look At Mad Max: Fury Road Storyboards

Mad Max: Fury Road Concept Art

Mad Max: Fury Road Set Photos

The Editing of MAD MAX: Fury Road

One of the many reasons MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is so successful as an action film is the editing style. By using “Eye Trace” and “Crosshair Framing” techniques during the shooting, the editor could keep the important visual information vital in one spot…the Center of the Frame. Because almost every shot was center framed, comprehending the action requires no hunting of each new shot for the point of interest. The viewer doesn’t need 3 or 4 frames to figure out where to look. It’s like watching an old hand-drawn flip book whiz by. The focus is always in the same spot!

Mad Max: Center Framed from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

“Eye Trace” is another editing technique that posits that you can guide the viewers eye and make them look where you want. By using motion in frame and/or positioning critical points of focus in successive shots to fall on a natural or comfortable area of the screen. An arrow shot from a bow flying left to right on screen of one shot…will seamlessly cut with a whip pan into the next shot that has a target and an arrow already stuck into it still quivering from the impact. Your eye is tracking the arrow left to right and your brain expects it to hit somewhere on the right side of the screen in the next shot. The viewer never sees the arrow make contact and doesn’t need to. A properly placed sound effect will convey the energy and impact. Apply this same technique to the punches, gunshots, spears, car crashes or any other shot in MAD MAX:Fury Road and you can see how much easier it makes the action to follow. 

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - Stop the Presses! A Woman Edits an Action Film


Meet The Colourist Eric Whipp

Making of Mad Max: Fury Road from ACS Victoria with John Seale ACS ASC and David Burr ACS

Crafting Mad Max: Fury Road’s more than 2,000 visual effects shots (saved one of the best articles for last - Danny Indio)

Original plate filmed in Namibia.
Final shot by Iloura.

CASE STUDY: The Fidel Castro Tapes

I normally reach out to filmmakers and producers when I write a case study but it is a long and involved process of outreach and interviewing and then creating the case study for Film Strategy. Lately, I have been busy with my legal work but I am also developing a documentary based on archival footage and photography and so I have been doing my research on all fronts. Lo and behold, I ran across this case study on a PBS documentary about Fidel Castro based on archival footage, The Fidel Castro Tapes, at Peter Hamilton's great website: Because I found it so useful, I felt I had to share it. 

We wondered about the challenges of creating an archive-based film about an 88-year old Spanish-speaking personality who can be dangerously controversial, and who is the founding father of a government whose people are still blockaded by the US. 
Castros producer Tom Jennings earned a Peabody with the Smithsonian Channel for MLK: The Assassination Tapes. We covered in depth his ‘no narration, no interview approach at last year’s MIPDOC. 
Here is our Fidel Case Study in which we explore with Tom my favorite genre, archive-based History. 
  • The original concept came from Hamish Mykura at National Geographic Channel International.
  • “I met with Hamish at MIPCOM in Cannes to explore ideas.  It turned out that he liked my style of using archival footage to tell stories – shows that have no narration and no interviews, but that let the edited archives tell our stories. Hamish wanted to tell the life story of Fidel Castro in the same style.”
Pre-production Planning
  • Jennings did some basic checking to be sure there was enough footage, especially English-language clips that could tell the story.
  • There was a concern that telling Castro’s 70-year political career would be too much to realize in the ‘no narration’ approach.
  • “We considered adding interviews.  In the end, we decided to try the ‘no narration’ style, and if it didn’t work we would use a narrator. “
  • NGC International negotiated the U.S. rights with PBS.
  • NGCI would be the lead network.
  • “We then had to find a balance between how NGCI and PBS wanted the story told.”
Key Terms
  • PBS had U.S. broadcast rights, while NGCI had international rights.
  • “There were a few sticking points – mostly regarding rights in the Caribbean.  I’m told this is a common sticking point for copro’s these days.”
  • Jennings regains rights to the international program after 10 years.
Key Challenges 
We asked Tom to describe his ‘Big 5’ challenges:
  1. Fidel in English
    “Finding as much footage as possible where Castro speaks English. It’s out there, and we found it from NBC, CBS, Critical Past, Yale University Archives, CBC Canada, and other sources.”
  2. Partner Balance
    “Striking a balance between NGCI and PBS.  The PBS show is 56 minutes.  The NGCI program is just under 45’. This was one of our most difficult issues, especially regarding licensing footage.  The additional footage in the PBS version would be for U.S. rights only.”
  3. Editorial Approach
    “Halfway through the production, after the first rough cut, the networks agreed that narration would be needed – Fidel Castro’s story was too vast to rely solely on news reporting.  This required a fresh approach, which slowed us down a bit.  However, once we turned that corner and each network was happy with the narrative style, the process moved smoothly.”
  4. Cost…
    “Sometimes the cost of footage is prohibitive.  We found an amazing interview with Castro by the CBS talk show host Ed Sullivan—it was recorded just days after the revolution, and in Havana!  It was remarkable and I very much wanted it in the show.  However, not only was the CBS fee for the footage extremely high, but its use required clearance from Ed Sullivan’s estate and perhaps additional fees.  In the end, my team talked me out of the Sullivan footage.  We would have spent 20 percent of the footage budget on 30 seconds of the show!”
  5. … And More Cost
    “Cost again came into play as we finished the edit.  Rare archival footage can be expensive.  And even though we were using a lot of footage from Cuba, the U.S. network footage was adding up.  This led to awful moments when we had to decide – ‘do we keep this shot and cut something else?  Or do we cut it so we can use three times as many other shots in the show?’ It’s never an easy process, but to stay within budget it has to be done. “
Key Sources / Costs 
  • More than 40% of the footage came from Cuba.
  • “Their footage is inexpensive.  We paid $200 a minute from one archive in Cuba – compared with anywhere from $50-100 a second for similar US footage.”
  • “You must work with Cuban archivists to access their material since their logging system is not the best.  Everything was on three-quarter-inch tape.  We would pull the reels from which we wanted footage, and one of their editors would cue up the shots and then make 1-to-1 copies onto a Beta tape.  It took time, but it was worth it.”
  • “We used several other footage sources.  We believe NBC has the best archive of news material of the major US networks.  They have worked with us on several footage-only shows, and once again unearthed material in their vaults that no one knew existed. “
AP Archive
  • AP Archive was terrific in finding stills of Castro that had long been dormant.  They had hundreds of great images, many of which had not been seen in decades.
  • “Finally, one surprising source was the State of Florida archives.  Florida has collections from residents who gave their personal photographs to the archive.  A man from Key West donated hundreds of photos taken during the Mariel Boat Lift.”
  • “These photos were free, so long as we credited the State of Florida.  It was a great resource and the unpublished photos made the show feel that much more unique. “
Complete List of Sources
  • AP Images; 
  • The Associated Press Corporate Archives; 
  • George W. Bush Presidential Library; 
  • CBS Television Archive Sales; 
  • CNN ImageSource; 
  • Corbis; 
  • Critical Past; 
  • Cubavision Internacional; 
  • Getty Images; 
  • Historic Films; 
  • ITN Source; 
  • ICAIC; 
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library; 
  • Los Angeles Times; 
  • National Archives and Records Administration; 
  • National Press Club; 
  • NBCUniversal Archives; 
  • NewsHour Productions LLC; 
  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; 
  • Roberto Salas; 
  • Andrew St. George; 
  • State Archives of Florida; 
  • T3 Media; 
  • United Nations Photo Archive; 
  • University of Maryland Special Collections; 
  • Cuban Revolution Collection; 
  • Yale University; WAMU 88.5.
Getting There
  • “Going to Cuba as a journalist takes time.  The U.S. requires a visa, as does Cuba through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.  They need to know as much as possible about your project – concept, key points, materials needed in Cuba, etc.  Juan Jacomino is the helpful second secretary.”
Cash Only
  • “Once you’re in Cuba – as an American – everything has to be paid in cash.  American credit and debit cards do not work — hotels, meals, taxis AND the cost of the footage all had to be paid for in cash.  We took $15,000 in cash.  To make things more difficult, we could not pay in $U.S. for the footage.  We had to transfer our dollars to Cuban pesos.  The exchange rate varies wildly depending on your location, so we were constantly looking for places that had the best rate.”
Fixer / Translator
  • “Also, I highly recommend hiring a driver/ fixer for transportation and help with getting things done.  There are several who assist U.S. news organizations and one was available for our trip.  Our guy, Jaime Robles made life much easier.”
  • “One of my AP’s Elka Worner, had been to Cuba many times and is fluent in Spanish.  Bring your own Spanish-speaking translator to Cuba — and don’t rely on the Cuban translators, who may not understand American English.”
Total Cost
  • “I can’t share the budget: it was competitive for a one-hour cable doc.”
Footage Share
  • “When we do these footage-only shows, nearly half of the budget covers footage costs.”
  • “The footage drives the show, and since there is no shooting involved, every frame of footage has to come from an outside source.”
  • “Underneath a lot of that footage we had to put recordings of radio and TV reporters.  The images were rare, but we couldn’t use just VO underneath the entire time to tell the story.  Hence, the need for radio and TV reports, which we had to pay for.”
  • Travel & production: 10%
  • Post: 20%
  • Footage & production elements: 40%
  • Staff / overhead: 30%
The entire process from first meeting with NGCI to Delivery was 18+/- months. 
  • Six months to negotiate the contract between the two networks.
  • “This can take longer than just dealing with one network.  Producers are responsible for any discrepancies between the two contracts, so a good lawyer is needed to ensure that everything agreed upon is correct.”
  • A few weeks talking with image vendors to get screeners of what they had.
  • “It took a few months to work things out with the Cuban archivists.  Once we had all the footage in house, the rest was editing.  Our editor worked on the first rough cut for six weeks.”
  • “Once we decided to re-tool the show with narration, it took about another six weeks to get it up to speed.  The main difficulty with the edit was trying to keep as much of the NGCI version in the PBS version.  We didn’t want to wind up doing two separate shows for the price of one.  While we came close to keeping both versions the same, it was difficult.  Each network had their own preferences, so we did our best to deliver two “very similar” versions of the show.”
Key Contacts
  • PBS: Sumner Menchero was the assistant director for PBS providing day-to-day oversight and editorial notes, while Bill Gardner was VP of Programming and Development with ultimate oversight on the project.
  • NGCI: Hamish ‘got things going, and Carolyn Payne was our EP and who guided us through their end of the process.’
  • PBS:  The Fidel Castro Tapes
  • NGCI:  Fidel Castro:  The Lost Tapes
  • PBS broadcast their version on Sept. 2, 2014.
  • NGCI has not set a date.
  • Reviews for the program were very positive, including here by Mark Feeney in the Boston Globe.
Watch the episodes on PBS.
Visit The Fidel Castro Tapes website.

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist A 40-point checklist from development to post-production   by Danny Jiminian