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Contender – Production Designer Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road

January 21, 2016 | By

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Director George Miller‘s Mad Max: Fury Road tells the story of a woman (Charlize Theron) who rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia and searches for her homeland. Creating this world was an interesting process and the task went to production designer Colin Gibson, who has received an Academy Award nomination for his work. He is Australian, so he was attracted to this project because he had always loved the story, which is so much part of Australian lore. “Being about to go in there and mess with the DNA of our culture was an offer too good to refuse,” he said. The project was on and off since he was first offered the job in 2000, but once the designing fun really started, it was a wild ride for Gibson.

Creating the world of Mad Max was about focusing on the characters and who they were. Describing the characters in a fluid, seamless way was a priority in the creative choices the production designer made. “We were trying to figure out what drove the characters before we decided what they drove. What we were trying to do was tell a story at 100 kilometers an hour. The movie moves at such a breakneck speed, the first half is a chase and the last half is a race, so there wasn’t as much time to linger. We had to build as much story, as much detail as to who the people were and why they were the way they were into flash cards. We sort of approached it as if it’s the end of your life and everything were flashing before your eyes,” Gibson said.

LR-madmax polecatsThe future laid itself out to the audience in an almost colorless palette. A decision was made early on between Gibson and Miller that they wouldn’t rely on a generic expectation of a colorful future and instead they would create a palette with as much color taken out of it as possible. “We would take all the colors and textures out of it that weren’t human flesh, by virtue of the characters. The more human fleshy they were, the brides who were kept away from the toxic wasteland, the more human they were, the more you identified with them, the more their skin tones popped,” Gibson explained.

There were definitely challenges on a creative project of this epic magnitude but Gibson set out to turn each one he came across into a positive experience. “Always when you discover that you have one hand tied behind your back, you suddenly are ambidextrous,” he said. The biggest overarching goal was to design things that looked cool and that operated well and could perform stunts, which was always challenging, but the undaunted production designer faced his task with joy and ingenuity, as he strived to make everything beautiful. “As far as the vehicles, the props, the weaponry, we built and so we collected beautiful things or things that had an inherent beauty which is one thing we were definite about, because it was the end of the world,” he said.

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