AS: Did the vehicles take on a life of their own?
CG: We worked on the theory that they were all characters. Some of them more than others had a genesis in the storyboards, the War Rig being one. It was in sixty percent of the frames and had a lot more worked out in it. Peter Pound, who was the real revhead in the early storyboard process, did a lot of particularly great work in pre-imagining what the War Rig might be, and Nux’s car as well. He loved cars and had done a lot of great work. But we didn’t really start off with the designs, we started off with the salvage. We decided we’d be true to the way the War Boys would do it and we’d go out and find salvage with that love, that passion, that guilt, and that half-remembered wonderment. Like a Labrador peering at a toilet roll and thinking, I’m not sure what this is but I’m sure it’s fun! we collected the salvage, we brought it back, and then myself, an art director, a steel worker, and a mechanic, would sit down and start writing the story of that particular character.
The storyboards would tell us, This vehicle needs to have a crew of at least two people on it, it needs a flamethrower, it’s got eighty days of keeping up at eighty km’s per hour over four different flavors of desert and when it does go, it needs to launch itself into the air, do a pirouette, burst into flame, and launch its crew in different directions. We’d hit the salvage pile with great mechanics who would try to top each other with how to make it more grunty, bigger, and more beautiful. Mount iconic curves, buff, weaponize, add cup-holder and floor it.
AS: These were all created in Australia?
CG: The production had a roller-coaster ride. In 2002 we had sourced vehicles in Africa. In early 2003 we began manufacture of them all in Africa, but the project fell through at that stage for various geopolitical reasons. The odd invasion of Iraq, Mel Gibson’s wife getting nervous about how many Muslims there may or may not be in Namibia. (I think there was only one, who ran a 7-11). It all fell apart and the next time round (2009), we were planning to shoot in Australia. We built a workshop in Sydney and our original vehicle search was around Australia. A great art director and buyer, Laurie Faen, went out in one direction and I went in the other and we found various vehicles as salvage, purchased and brought them all back. We also bought some ex-U.N. and military trucks in England and Europe, and in America tracked down the Cadillacs and a pair of Kaisers, then shipped everything back home to the great big salvage build-your-own armada.
AS: Would Stunts and Special FX come in and test out the vehicles?
CG: The Special FX team was working in the same workshop with us. We were hand-in-glove. We worked together from very early on, which is always my preference. That way we could build all the requirements into the vehicle as we went. I’m not big on specialization and particularly loathe it in those big-budget American films where you go and build something and then the Special FX guys come in and build four