Mad Max: Fury Road – where it’s at and a few words from Mel Gibson

Tom Hardy as Mad Max.

Tom Hardy as Mad Max.

UPDATE (May 24): A reader says some shots, including a potentially major scene, were due to be filmed on the South African studio set late last year but had to be cancelled because the production was running behind schedule. If correct, it would explain why further shooting was scheduled for Australia (possibly on set, rather than on location) and the extremely long post-production period.

Long-running delays and re-shoots made The Great Gatsby into the film which kept on giving to the Australian economy. Mad Max: Fury Road is the film which hasn’t given enough.

A planned shoot in New South Wales’ town of Broken Hill never eventuated, replaced by South Africa and Namibia last year. It’s been done before of course: the bulk of 2009 drama Disgrace was shot in South Africa while offshore filming is a regular occurence in the  in the factual sector. Filming an entire big-budget Hollywood-funded, Australian film offshore though, is a rarity.

I’ve since heard a rough cut of the film has been assembled although further shooting is scheduled for Australia later this year although I’ve received no reply to emails sent to the production. Broken Hill mayor Wincen Cuy said he wasn’t aware of any further shooting planned for the city, which began work on a film studio complex in 2009 to cater for Mad Max: Fury Road before the production pulled out.

In late-2012, the Broken Hill City Council put out a tender to redevelop the site and considered five expressions of interest to invest, develop, manage and/or operate all or part of the 2.5 hectare site. However, nothing eventuated (Cuy says they weren’t interested in the film studio component) and Broken Hill has since applied for Regional Development Australia funding.

“We’re holding our breath come July [when the funding results are announced] and that’s a $15 million project,” Cuy said.

The plans are now to develop the site’s original film studios to include areas such as a digital hub and student accommodation.

Still, Fury Road pick-ups have to be shot somewhere. The film is only scheduled for release in 2014 – an incredibly long post-production period considering the majority of effects were planned to be completed “in camera”. Nonetheless, the leaked photos and footage of the post-apocalyptic vehicles in the film look fantastic.

What’s another 12-month wait when fans have been waiting several years already?

The production was close to filming in Namibia in 2003 before the Iraq War scuttled production plans. The original ‘Mad Max’, Mel Gibson, was then set to star in the film. At that point, Gibson’s career was still going strong and he had just appeared in M Night Shymalan’s (inexplicable) hit film Signs.

I found this recent footage (below) where Gibson talks about Fury Road and Tom Hardy taking his iconic role. He describes the original film he was set to star in as “a really good story” that was “more pure in a sense”. How similar it was to the final Fury Road script remains a mystery.

He also says  Hardy “reminds me of one of my sons” and is a “firecracker”.  Coming from Gibson – about the biggest firecracker going around – that’s quite a compliment.