Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ask Me a Question: Mad Max Fury Road w/ George Miller

Another Monday, another night with The American Cinematheque! This time it was to the much closer Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for Mad Max: Fury Road as part of their Oscar series. Director George Miller was on hand for Q&A for the sold out screening. We stopped off at Santa Monica staple The Daily Grill, a solid spot for happy hour with drinks and three kinds of pot pie but spotty service this time. Outside the theater was a Mad Max-ified Bug complete with fake gatling gun and scores of folks in cosplay from The Road Warrior and Fury Road. Caught up with #ActionMovieBro David J. Moore whose latest opus, The Good, the Tough & the Deadly: Action Movies & Stars, will be hitting shelves in a couple months and features a few reviews and an interview by yours truly. This would be my fourth time seeing Fury Road on the big screen and the extended car/truck/motorcycle chase still delivers. Refreshing with its use of practical f/x and physics layered on top of one another to create a gonzo and kinetic 2 hours while still finding time to add in some character bits.

After the film, Miller, in cargo pants and a tuxedo top, partook in a brief Q&A:

- Hadn't seen The Road Warrior with a crowd in 30 years before a SXSW screening and had a ball.
- Fury Road began not as a script, but 3,000+ storyboards hung up on the walls of a "Mad Max" room that depicted every moment and look in the story.
- Tom Hardy was about the only guy Miller saw as Max as he had the same nervous energy, likability and hint of volcanic temper like Mel Gibson.
- Miller joked how Hardy was only 6 weeks old when he started on Mad Max in the 70's.
- Talked current F/X to layer and add in landscape, sky and carnage. Removed tire tracks in the sand and lamented how old films you could tell how many takes they did by the number of skid marks.
- Safety has improved greatly since The Road Warrior where Guy Norris went tumbling through the air after a motorcycle crash and onto a field of cardboard boxes.
- Hardy is afraid of heights but did the polecat sequence and many stunts while Charlize Theron's background as a dancer helped her tackle many sequences as well.
- A former doctor, Miller acted as the on-set medic for the earlier films.
- On giving his characters dramatic moments, Miller spoke about needing the arc for each to keep things interesting and not just non-stop action. Was hard to direct as sometimes he'd be under the floorboards of the truck, talking through a speaker, it was loud, etc.

It was a brief affair with no audience questions but Miller hung out for a while signing for fans. The Road Warrior queued up next but being a Monday and already after 10:00 PM, it was time to go home to kick back with an Aqua Cola, shiny and chrome.

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