FREEZE!NoobMember0 XPJun-17-2013 9:46 PM
Greg van Borssum, the Second Unit Director of Mad Max: Fury Road (also weapons adviser, weapons consultant, fight choreographer & stunt performer) recently gave an interview to [b]Blitz Martial Arts Magazine[/b] and here is what he said about his experience working on the set and with his friend, action film star and Zen Do Kai chief instructor [b]Richard Norton[/b], 8th Dan.
[b]Greg Van Borssum Gets Hardy in a Playful Choke Hold![/b]
[b]When and how did the concept for Mad Max: Fury Road come about?[/b]
The concept for Fury Road came up quite a long time ago now. The original Mad Max story was really the baby of George Miller and Byron Kennedy. [Byron] and George were great mates and after making a few short films together, they decided to make Mad Max.
It was very courageous at the time, but that is George in a nutshell: he is always trying to take filmmaking to a new level, as in Mad Max, Babe, Happy Feet and now the new Mad Max Fury Road. If you think about those films, in their time they were all landmark films because they changed the way films were made.
Mad Max brought people inside the car chases, whereas before they had only been bystanders. Babe brought live talking animals to the screen, Happy Feet brought photo-real animation and life to the screen, and along the same lines we are hoping that Fury Road brings the audience into an amazing action piece all based on character…and if we have done our job right, then it will be so.[/i]
[b]What were the hold-ups and how did it finally get the green light after 10 years?[/b]
There were several hold ups with the film, the first being over 10 years ago. We were all set to go when the film was pulled… I believe the film was cancelled back then because of the dollar, the war and a number of other reasons due to us wanting to film in Africa.
Broken Hill was the next attempt. We were all set to go, then the rains came and the desert turned green. We were up there for stunt and vehicle testing, and it made life interesting on all the clay after the rains, that’s for sure. My family came up there with me and it was beautiful. The people of Broken Hill were so accommodating and friendly, but the alteration in the landscape made filming impossible. It was the first time I’d been to Broken Hill and the flora after the rain was brilliant — I felt we were fortunate to be there at that time.
So the film was halted again as new locations were sourced and during that time we set about making Happy Feet 2.
Then came attempt three: Namibia. It was a big change of location, as the African country of Namibia, though coastal, is basically desert with strong winds. We got word from our scouts that the place we were going to stay at, Swakopmund, was beautiful. It is a coastal retreat for wealthy holidaymakers. Next thing we knew, it was locked in and we were starting our rehearsals [on 14 May 2012].
[b]Can you tell us about some of the stunts and choreography you and Richard were involved with? Is there much hand-to-hand fighting in the film?[/b]
This film is going to do what the Bond franchise got from its decision to update its action and storylines. There is a heap of hand-to-hand, weapons work and eye-popping, amazing stunts. The great thing about Mad Max is that we have prided ourselves on making all our action real, not CG [computer-generated] action.
Richard and I worked long and hard with all the actors and doubles (Jacob Tomuri and Dayna Chiplin) to make everything feel real while being true to character. There were some very difficult fight sequences, as not only were they being performed on moving vehicles, they were using improvised weaponry and other things, which I can’t discuss right now. But the scenes pushed us to the edge of creativity while keeping things based on the characters we were working with in the quirky world of Mad Max. It is road warfare in the end, and it had to have a certain brutality to it. This film is a whole new era for Mad Max and its combat.
[b]Zen Do Kai chief instructor [b]Richard Norton[/b], 8th Dan[/b]
[b]What’s it like working with a seasoned pro, in both martial arts and film, like Richard Norton?[/b]
Richard and I worked together every day of the film and it was brilliant. I used to read about Richard when I was a kid; he has always inspired me as he believed in weight training for martial artists when many did not. That appealed to me, especially since part of my career path took me to the final at three Mr Universe [bodybuilding contests] by age 20.
Richard looks great at his current age, too. There aren’t many people half his age who are in as good a shape physically as he is, so it is apparent that he lives by his advice.
I have been a martial artist for many years now. I started as a kid doing taekwondo and at the same time I studied forms of karate, which eventually led me to Sensei Mark Greville and Shorin Kan Shorin-ryu karate. I have trained with him for over 20 years now. His way of teaching appealed to me, and he has a great wealth of knowledge, which is why I still train with him, as does my five-year-old son, Macyn.
Richard and I also have featured speaking roles in the film, which was fantastic fun. We did have a joke running for a while where I told him I had spoken with George and we had decided that it would be great if his character could exit the vehicle, see an adversary, take an air-swing, then trip and fall off the vehicle. We had him going for ages! He does get a great fight scene of his own, which was nice for him to do.
I am on the gun side of the equation on the film because of my gun expertise — I am a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia team. I took up firearms work a number of years ago as I believe a true martial artist needs to be versed in every weapons system possible, as it is all a toolbox in the end.
I was the weapons advisor on the film as well, so it was fun teaching firearms to the actors. They just soaked it up.
[b]What were the living and working conditions like filming in Africa?[/b]
Living conditions in Africa were, believe it or not, great. My family had a waterfront house in a very picturesque area and there were fantastic shopping centres, coffee shops and play areas all around town, so there was no issue at all regarding rough living for the crew.
It does make you think, though; there is such a huge disparity between rich and poor. There doesn’t seem to be any real middle class — the poor work for the rich and are paid next to nothing for it.
The shooting conditions were a different animal. The roads to the locations were dangerous, as the early starts meant your visibility was massively limited due to the pea-soup fog that blanketed the road for the 100km journey. The drivers in the area, many unlicensed or drunk, kept you on your toes.
The local water was a killer, so we had a whole lot of crew go down with gastro infections while we were there. On set, at a few locations we had almost daily afternoon sandstorms with 100-plus kmph winds, which would tear down our tents and make it impossible to film. The heat was another factor, as was the sun, but everyone was sensible and we got through it. We were fortunate to have a great crew.
[b]Was it an easy or difficult task training up Charlize Theron, Megan Gale and Tom Hardy for their roles? Did Hardy bring some biffo skills to the set having already starred in Warrior?[/b]
Training up Tom and Charlize was great fun. Charlize had a great deal of firearms work to do, on top of her fighting, but she truly wanted to embody the character, so it made our job a dream.
I taught her all her firearms work in my own time as she had no real experience with guns and was a nervous around them, but together we got through it. In the end, she was a better shooter than most people I know. She was just that dedicated. The same went for her in the fight scenes: she really wanted to make the actions come from a place of truth. Charlize was originally a dancer, so she understands movement; we just gave her the intent to go with it.
Tom came to the table with a ton of ideas all based on where he wanted to take the character. We spent so much time sitting around talking about character and movement — it was fantastic.
Tom didn’t like to rehearse the shorter sequences much and it proved to be a Godsend. It meant he was actually playing catch-up in the fights, as would really happen. It gave me what I always wanted for the fight scenes in this film, which was to have the choreography hidden inside what looked like a real fight and not let you see the beats.
Tom is brilliant to work with; he is versatile, knowledgeable and an all-round good bloke. Richard and I had so much fun working with him and we all became great friends who will keep in touch. Tom wanted to push Max in what I feel was the right direction, so it made my life easier.
Megan Gale has been a friend of mine for ages; she is an absolute gem. Megan is one of the most grounded people I know — it is what makes her so extraordinary. She picks up physical movements very well; she had to learn so many skills in a vast array of areas in a very short time, but she was great.
I’m so glad she is getting to the screen in this capacity, as it has been a long path for her. She will make people sit up and watch, that’s for sure.
Seven months is a long time to be shooting a film, it has its ups and downs, but all in all it was really worth the time away… Now it’s back to Australia, back to the dojo and training, shooting and readying for the next endeavour. There is always plenty to do — life is as exciting as you want to make it!
[b] 24 FPS, I'll Take It! [/b]
Such a great interview and Greg van Borssum is 100% confident we are going to be very pleased and entertained when we view Fury Road's action sequences! What do you think of this news? Are you excited to see Charlize and Tom's performances?
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