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Mad Max Director George Miller Shares Origin Story

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The current Mad Max movie franchise, according to director George Miller, was developed out of constraints.

The Australian director, who started out as an emergency department physician, made the switch to filmmaking and imagined a society in which abundance is a pipe dream and limitation is a central theme.

With a staff of thirty-five and a young Mel Gibson in the lead role, the Australian filmmaker created his debut Mad Max movie in 1978. The film was shot with a camera lens that was discarded from a Steve McQueen movie, and he claims that the project’s lack of funding ultimately worked to his advantage.

According to Miller, 79, the original story was intended to be a “contemporary story set in the city of Melbourne,” but due to budgetary constraints, the idea that it was set in a “dystopian future” was born. Instead, Miller claims they chose to concentrate on what they could use, which led to the creation of the Mad Max franchise as it exists today.

“The first Mad Max was definitely born out of limitations. It ultimately turned out to be very key to it. We couldn’t afford to have car chases in the middle of the street,” he says. “We couldn’t afford [to have] the extra cars or put stuntmen in those cars. We couldn’t have extras in the street, trams or busses and we couldn’t use the buildings so we decided to set it a few years in the future,” he said in an interview.

He further said, “We could shoot in backstreets, where there were no extras and no cars, or shoot in really old, decrepit buildings where the people wouldn’t ask you for rent. And that led to the film becoming more allegorical. Had we not done that? I don’t think we’d be still doing it.”

Being a movie buff at heart, Miller had a concept for Mad Max that included shooting it in a “big anamorphic widescreen”. In the past, he said that Mad Max was inspired by his early years in rural Queensland and the dominant automotive culture there.

As a 26-year-old emergency room physician, Miller saw firsthand the region’s all-flat roads, burned terrain, and lack of speed restrictions at the time.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Miller’s most recent book, is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road. Chris Hemsworth plays Dementus, and Anya Taylor-Joy plays Imperator Furiosa in it.

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