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Mad Max How They Designed the Characters and Sounds

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Postby norah on 18 Feb 2016 15:39

Mad Max How They Designed the Characters and Sounds

The reasons behind a picture being nominated.
I know Coach was surprised on what made Mad Max get so many nominations, here is why.

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We look at costume design, makeup & hairstyling, and sound editing and mixing for George Miller's buzzy, Oscar-contending return to the wasteland.
For costume designer Jenny Beavan and the makeup & hairstyling team of Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, and Damian Martin, the journey of "Mad Max: Fury Road" was all about figuring out a day in the life of the wasteland survivors: Max (Tom Hardy), Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his wives, and the War Boys.

Beavan looked at George Miller's graphic novel and early concepts, which had an S&M look, and made the costume design more masculine. She also found inspiration in Namibia, where they shot Miller's post-apocalyptic return. The African ethos of recycling and re-purposing became important to the aesthetic, where dressing for necessity took precedence. And Miller stressed finding beauty in the ordinary objects that get thrown away.

"They do it extraordinarily, from the beautiful animals they make out of old Coke cans and the things they do with wires and coat hangers and beads," Beavan explained. "Everybody wore bits and pieces to keep them alive. Furiosa, with a prosthetic arm and a harness, needed something to base it on. I originally gave her a jacket but that was discarded because she didn't have the freedom to take it on and off."

Two highlights were Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones), with his dolls head necklace (which took her back to her early prop and model-making days), and the Five Wives who are totally under dressed for a road trip with shawls, sarong wraps, bikini tops, and mini-skirts. "They were like a mirage in the desert," Beavan said.

The makeup and hairstyling for the War Boys were based on the looks of various tribes. "We all talked about what these people would do with their days and weeks, what they would have available to them," added Vanderwalt.


The War Boys liked to paint their skin white and etch parts of their cars into their skin and Nux (Nicholas Hoult) has a V-8 engine drawing scarified on his chest, as well as scars on his face and lips. "He also had beautiful scarifications on his teeth to make them look like skulls because they're all dying and they knew they only had half a life," recalled Wardega. "So they weren't totally attached to the world, which is why they could go ahead and do the kamikaze spray paint to kill themselves for the cause."

Furiosa had be tough right along with the men and her war paint-like look, with black grease around her head, came from one of the tribes as well. Two days before flying to Namibia, Theron called to ask permission to shave her head, which thrilled the makeup/hair team.

"Fury Road" was also a special journey for the sound team. Originally, Miller wanted no dialogue; then, no music. Eventually, though, he decided on a sonic vision more akin to an animated movie, with a fully-layered, intrinsic soundscape of dialogue, music (composed by Tom Holkenborg), and background effects. Even Furiosa's breathing became an integral part of the fabric. And the framing of cinematographer John Seale (Oscar winner for "The English Patient" and nominated for "Fury Road") enabled them to pan the dialogue in all directions for an immersive Atmos experience.


Sound editor Mark Mangini revealed that that the sonic design was always character-driven. "In the opening, Max jumps into his Ford Intrepid, drives off into the distance, and, as he comes toward camera, they blow it up and then he rolls over and gets out of the car. There's a very subtle beat that is the sound of the Intrepid. The sound team chose to make that a spluttery, de-tuned engine specifically to convey how down on his luck Max is."

"Moby Dick" even became an allegorical reference, with the War Rig as the white whale and Immorten Joe as Ahab. "And we used that as a literary reference to make some very basic sonic decisions like when the harpoons hit the War Rig, we used the sounds of whale blow holes for the milk and the water spewing forth out of the tanker. And when it does get hit, we anthropomorphized the War Rig with whale groans as if it's in pain."

According to re-recording mixer Chris Jenkins, Miller wanted the vehicles to have their own distinctive sounds. "These are living creatures," he said. "The outside of a truck sounds like a roaring beast but as they move through the wasteland they sound more tortured and inside the cab it's like a womb with no engine sound."

There were many obstacles to overcome on location (they rigged a 4×4 vehicle dubbed "Osmotron" for their extensive audio gear), where the atmosphere betrayed the performances. Therefore, most of the sound, including dialogue, was re-recorded in post several times. "The performances were made and remade and reshaped by George in the cutting room," Jenkins concluded.


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Postby coach on 18 Feb 2016 18:43

Re: Mad Max How They Designed the Characters and Sounds

Interesting. I mean, I thought it looked like the old Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) and any number of the hundreds of B and C dystopian future action sci-fi movies I've seen over the years. I didn't see much of anything that was particularly outstanding. I'm not saying that's bad, because I do love me some B and C dystopian future action sci-fi movies. I mean, they could have just been recycling old Road Warrior outfits for all I could tell. If this is considered Oscar-worthy, then the question becomes, why didn't the original Road Warrior get any Oscars?

Personally, I loved the look, I loved the costumes. I loved them the first time around, when I saw them in Road Warrior, when they were just as good, if not better. I just don't get why now, all of a sudden, dystopian future sci-fi BDSM wear is suddenly Oscar worthy.
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Postby TechJunkie on 18 Feb 2016 19:13

Re: Mad Max How They Designed the Characters and Sounds

There is an enormous, obvious difference between the costume design in all earlier Mad Max movies, versus Fury Road. I think you might need to watch it again.

Remember that Dune also won for best costumes, and Fury Road is right up there with Dune.
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Postby norah on 22 Feb 2016 11:22

Re: Mad Max How They Designed the Characters and Sounds

I see both of your points but you know, that's the problem with sequels sometimes. There is a lot to live up to, sometimes in cases like Star Wars, most love it and in other cases, Terminator or any other action movie, it doesn't live up to expectations.

For makeup, costume and editing, I like what Mad Max did, and I am not a huge fan of it for other reasons. Still I think it is good. However, I love what The Revenant did with their film, I think it deserved every award on costume/ editing/ makeup/ hair.
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