Out Here, Everything Hurts
“Out here, everything hurts. You wanna get through this? Do as I say. Now pick up what you can and run.” - Furiosa
I had no interest in seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. It was going to be another retro remake/dumb car movie that all the gorillas would salivate over. It would have no meaning. It would look like CGI garbage.
Oh how wrong I was.
When I finally got around to seeing it, colorful fireworks went off behind my eyes. The character of Furiosa with her determination, her cold calculation, and her outright gall inspired me. She knew what she wanted, she knew what was right, and she would stop at nothing to get it.
Then there were the wives, first so uncertain and afraid, but willing to put their lives in jeopardy to get out of a horrific situation. Capable with her compassion, Angharad with her resilience to flee her abuser, Toast with her unwavering choice to fight rather than give in, Dag with her ability to believe that things could be good again.
And then there was Cheedo, who was naive and not relevant to this story.
This movie may have had Max in it, but it wasn't about him.
And so when we designed this shoot, it wasn't going to be about him either.
So thank you to George Miller for creating a visual feast that had a core to it, this shoot is in homage to your exceptional vision. Here's to hoping you actually get to make the second one.
Planning the Shoot
I met with Dan Gilbert, Sarah J. Mann, and Zack Reardon in the Spring of 2017. We were talking about the film and how I had got in my head to do a shoot inspired by it. I had no idea how I was going to go about it, but that it would come to me in time.
I also knew right away that Sarah was a perfect cast for Dag. And I knew that Aspen would be an exceptional Furiosa. But I had no idea where I would find Capable, Toast, or Cheedo. Max wasn't even on my radar.
So Dan and I wrote down a few of our ideas. He wanted to do a build on a car. We needed to find old abandoned warehouse space. I knew that we could use the ArcWorks space in Peabody that we had used for A Great Fear of Shallow Living, and it would be great because whatever old car we found we could drive it into the space via the garage.
We told ourselves that we would plan it as big as possible and then we would scale back as needed. We set the shoot date for sometime around November, giving us ample time to craft everything we needed and find the rest of the cast.
Then out of the blue one day, world renowned flow artist Lux Luminous sends me a message. She said that some friends of hers had told her about me, and that she thought that we should collaborate on something. I had been an admirer of hers for more than a year, so obviously I said yes, absolutely, and asked her if she would be interested in being Capable.
When she agreed I was over the moon.
The months went by and no one had come forward who was even a close fit for either Toast the Knowing or Cheedo, so I decided that instead of trying to force it to happen, I would set this whole thing five years in the future as if those two had died, and Furiosa and Dag and Capable were making the most of an altogether bad situation.
Dan Gilbert is a Salem-based artist with SCAM. He is a sculptor, painter, welder – basically, if it can be done, he can do it, and he's brilliant at it. I met him a few years ago when he was looking for a place to live and I was trying to get out of my mouse infested apartment, and he wanted to take a look at the room. Fortunately for both of us, I ended up getting out of that crappy situation and he found somewhere much better to live, but we became friends pretty quickly.
But it wasn't until I interviewed him for his work with sign creation for Kokeshi that I realized the depth of his abilities. I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something with him at some point, but I didn't know what.
We spent hours in the summer and early Autumn of 2017 sitting over a beer trying to figure out what we could do to make this shoot cool. We quickly dropped the idea of sourcing old school weapons in favor of doing something more monstrous.
Also Zack started coming to these meetings too. He wanted to help out, and since we both knew that we needed some help to get this thing moving, we gladly accepted his offer. His job would be armor creation.
He also signed on to be part of the set, as Max.
So Dan and I headed to Saver's and home depot and the Halloween store to source some cool materials, and thanks to Denny Tentindo we found a tire for Zack to convert into armor, and we were on the move.
We had a lot of weird equipment and headgear in mind. At one point we had even considered a unicorn horn spike sticking out of a helmet, but we quickly scrapped that.
We eventually decided on three main weapons: a Bazooka for Capable, a Flame Thrower for Dag, and a Pizza Slicer arm for Furiosa. Because why have a normal prosthetic arm when you can have something truly terrifying.
A Change of Plans
Two weeks before the shoot was scheduled to happen, I see a post on FB that ArcWorks has started construction on their Black Box in Peabody, which meant that we had lost our space. Heartbroken, but determined to get us another spot in two weeks time, I asked the internet.
My friend Michael Gerhard Martin, author of the marvelous short story collection Easiest If I Had a Gun, came to my rescue, or at least, he tried to.
Recently he had bought a property in Southern Vermont, a place he refers to affectionately as the Party Barn. He also through in these marvelous nuggets of information.
I was hooked, but I had no idea how I would get 10 people who didn't know each other that well 2.5 hours away do the shoot and return them the same day without everyone killing me or each other. There were just too many ifs.
I said thanks but that it was probably impossible.
Then someone gave me a lead on the old hangar at Winter Island. They said yes I could shoot there, but they wanted more information. I told them I would give them whatever info they needed. So what info did they need?
They never got back to me. So I postponed the shoot.
The holidays came and went. Dan and Zack and Carly Naik – my trusted costume designer and friend – kept on crafting through the winter. And I decided, what the hey, let's go to Vermont.
The Day of the Shoot
We transported everyone up there in Chimæric's company car (Thanks Inphantry!) and our Subaru Imprezza. I made chili, we packed snacks. The company car had the ability to play movies. Naturally the choice was Fury Road.
Our destination: The Party Barn in Saxton's River Vermont.
There's really not much more to say, apart from the fact that instead of the waterless wasteland the movie represented, in our adventure, the 5 years after the film adventure, it was a nuclear winter.
And oh, was it wintery.
And also Carly, Sarah, and Aspen all had fevers pushing 101.
Out Here, Everything Hurts
Weapons Master - Dan Gilbert
Costume Design - Carly Naik
Driver, Videographer - Chimæric
Production Assistant - Rachel Stigers
Lights - Retonica
Armor Master, Mad Max - Zack Reardon
Furiosa - Aspen Ridge
Dag - Sarah J. Mann
Capable - Lux Luminous
SINCERE gratitude to Michael Gerhard Martin and Ellen Goldstein for opening up their magical party barn to us and making us feel so at home. Thank you to Joey Nicotera for use of the best lights in the history of lights. To SCAM for letting us borrow Dan and for use of the space. Also to Inphantry, LLC. for use of "Tank." And of course, thank you to George Miller and his entire team for inspiring me to do this in the first place.
Please enjoy this behind the scenes video recorded by Chimæric, and then, afterwards, check out the photos. I'm incredibly proud of them, not because of the way they look (even though I think they turned out quite alright), but because of the creative collaboration of what they represent. It took us almost a year to make it happen, but we did it, and that's just a testament to how awesome this entire crew was.
"We are not things!" - Dag
Click Here to see the Photos in Hi-Res.
What a glorious day. What an incredible team.
© 2018 Joey Phoenix, Inc.