John Seale On Shooting Mad Max - Fury Road!

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on June 01, 2015

Much like the hardships Mad Max and Furiosa face in Mad Max Fury Road, George Miller too faced many difficulties while making the fourth instalment of his iconic franchise. This included financial difficulties, cancellations, postponements, adverse weather conditions and a technically complex setup amongst other difficulties.

Miller faced a further setback when Oscar winning cinematographer Dean Semler (who shot Mad Max 2 - The Road Warrior and Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome) left the film before commencement of the principal photography.

This led to Miller coercing legendary cinematographer John Seale to come out of his retirement and join him as the DOP for Mad Max Fury Road. Seale had previously shot Miller's Lorenzo's Oil. Seale, being an Aussie himself, couldn't possibly have refused an offer to shoot the much anticipated reboot of one of the most iconic Australian films of all times.

And that's how he came on board as the cinematographer for the film. This was one of the many thing's that eventually worked in favour of the film. For John Seale has done a splendid job of translating Miller's vision on to the big screen and made it a visual experience like no other.

While we are talking about Mad Max, check out this amazing video that shows you how George Miller uses P.O.V shots that places the viewer in the midst of the action and leaves them exhilarated.

John Seale (left) and George Miller on the location of Mad Max Fury Road                                   John Seale (left) with George Miller on the location of Mad Max Fury Road

A recent Q&A session held by the Australian Cinematographer's Society (ACS) saw John Seale and 2nd unit cinematographer David Burr share some amazing insights on how they shot the latest Mad Max film.

Did you know that it took George Miller 15 years to make Mad Max Fury Road and get it released in cinemas? Miller and his team commenced storyboarding for the film in 1999 and started shooting for the film in 2003 which had to be cancelled due to the Gulf war amongst other reasons. The film was then relaunched in 2011 with much of the shooting taking place in Namibia and South Africa.

Seale used a multi camera set up which comprised of ten Arri Alexa cameras, four little Arri M cameras, ten Canon 5Ds amongst other cameras. Since a major chunk of the action takes place inside the war rig driven by Furiosa, George Miller was keen on using a 3D camera that could fit inside the window of the war rig. Besides this, some cameras were suspended from the war rig. The crew was of the opinion that using a multiple camera setup was a great idea as it let them cut the shots as per their wish and did not create any continuity issues. Miller didn't want to change lenses during the shooting in order to avoid realigning cameras and other equipments.

He feels that audience approval of any film is based on the first three shots of that film. No matter how splendid the visuals of your film are, audiences won't care if it does not have a strong storyline or fails to captivate them.

Seale and Burrow share several other valuable insights on cinematography and the making of the film during this 2 hour masterclass which is simply unmissable. You can watch the complete video here.

Also check out ACS' Vimeo channel which has an amazing collection of videos that offer great tips on cinematography.


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