shoot, making sure that the props, the sets, can still respond. Maybe it’s an emotional problem. I just can’t let go! I’d be there for every shot if there wasn’t another set coming up tomorrow or the day after. That’s usually what drags you away. That’s why they make more hours in the day -so that you can be on the set and still go and get the next set ready without missing anything.
AS: After working in other countries how would you characterize the Australian film industry?
CG: I’m biased but I find the Australian crews are terrific. Partly because of my own proclivity to not be specialized. I couldn’t understand going to Los Angeles and not being allowed into my own prop truck and needing teamster number seven to hand me the object from the box. It’s a little more friendly here for those who want to keep control of what they’re doing.
AS: For Fury Road did you watch Road Warrior a bunch of times? Do you use a lot of cinematic references?
CG: I try not to watch movies as reference. I watch movies to keep me plugged in to the zeitgeist. Not to the level that George does, he might as well be jacked into the internet. He’s constantly aware of everything that’s happening. I watch movies because we’re all working in different vernaculars and idioms and I want to know as many adjectives and as many foreign languages as possible. But I never go out looking for filmic references that way.
I was offered a job not long ago where they sent me a glossy brochure of sci-fi wonderment telling me how they wanted to make a film that was unlike any that had ever been made before and the glossy brochure proceeded to show me various shots from Alien and Star Trek and Star Wars.
You need to be able to speak the language but you want to find a new way to put the words together otherwise you’re just playing karaoke.
AS: Are there other places you get inspiration from?
CG: Books (novels more than coffee-table reference tomes). Art galleries. We have a great art gallery in Sydney called White Rabbit that specializes in Chinese art and the day before I was to head off to China an exhibition opened by a Chinese artist who had deconstructed stolen pieces of the Great Wall. These pieces were stolen by local villagers and turned into hen houses and barbecues and he’s re-stolen them back and rebuilt them as artwork versions of the same. That work was handy to be taking with me to China if just to say, That’s what the color of Great Wall bricks were in the 12th or 14th century. I wonder what ours will be like in the 11th?
There’s always reference. Some of it’s visual. Some of it’s in words and words paint pictures too. I read a lot. There’s a whole universe of reference, you just need to keep your eyes and ears open.
AS: Any advice for someone just coming into the business?
CG: You don’t have to start as an art director. You don’t have to draw. You don’t have to go to art school. Like Jack Fisk, throw a hammer in the back of a ute and head off and the badlands will shape you.