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The Storyboards Were the Script

Fury Road was begun with a storyboard rather than a standard script, but these weren’t just any storyboards. In addition to the extensive concept art created by Brendan McCarthy, whose input was so significant that he’s got a co-writing credit, there were about 3500 drawings done by Mark Sexton and other artists. These cover basically every moment of the film.

George Miller:

I got in touch with Brendan McCarthy, a wonderful artist who had sent me some terrific drawings of Mad Max. I asked if he wanted to come down and work on it. We worked with Mark Sexton, Peter Pound, two other fine storyboard artists I’d worked with in the past. We sat in a room and basically laid out 3500 panels, which, so much of the movie is what you saw today. The big dimension that’s missing is time, those rhythms you’re finding in the performance and ultimately in the editing suite.

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The storyboards were great, because you don’t have to write direction or camera movement, you knew where you were. Even the cast had the storyboards, and knew where they were meant to be at any given moment. Those storyboards were a very useful tool, and people were able to build on that.

In an interview with io9, Charlize Theron talked about the relationship to the film’s boards and script.

…there was a script; it just wasn’t a conventional script, in the sense that we kind of know scripts with scene numbers. Initially it was just a storyboard, and we worked off that storyboard for almost three years. And then eventually, there was a kind of written version of the storyboard, which just felt like a written version of the storyboard, again not like a script. I think the hardest thing for us, as actors, to get our heads around, was that the movie really was one big scene.

Usually you have scenes and this was one big scene. So we shot one big scene for 138 days. That was tricky because everyday you show up and you don’t really know where you are in that scene. George was really at understanding what he wanted. And the movie was in his head. After a while ,we all understood that we just had to let him do his thing.

The Vehicles Truly Are That Impressive

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While there’s a lot of information out there about the cars in the film, it’s easier in some ways to see that they’re real. Check out the test videos of the Bullet Farmer’s ride in action. This thing is terrifying, and incredible.

Some of the Weirdest Stuff Was Done for Real

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Miller was afraid the pole cats — the guys mounted high above the cars on swinging poles — would not be a practical on-set effect. But the production delay allowed enough development time that they figured out how to do it.

And the delay… those pole cats, I thought we’d never be able to get those really moving. I thought we’d shoot the guys up there, and we’d comp in the vehicles traveling through the landscape. And then gradually, bit by bit, they figured out how to do that. One day Guy [Norris] sent me some footage. I was in the middle of Happy Feet 2, and he was out in Broken Hill in the center of Australia. He sent me this footage and the guys were up there doing it! And there were several of them.

Olympic Feats of Safety

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On a stunt movie like Fury Road, there’s always the potential for injury or even death. That means that the safety of crew and performers alike has to be prioritized above all else.

Indeed, to make sure that everyone would be safe on this film, Miller & Co. went to the crew that did rigging work for the Olympic opening ceremonies.

The notion of hurting someone really badly was there. we were obsessed with safety, we had great, great riggers. We got the guys who do the Olympics, who did the Sydney and Beijing Olympics, who fly those people around. [They get] one take, for the Olympic opening ceremony, and they’re really on top of their game. It got so we could use our real cast in so much of it.

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Continue Reading Eight Awesome Facts About the Making of the Mad Max: Fury Road >>

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