Sometimes, the worldbuilding in a movie is so strong that it can spawn many sequels. When I first saw a Mad Max movie, I wanted to spend as much time in that world as I could.

Turns out, so did director George Miller. He's made Mad Max movies consistently since 1979. In that time, he's seen the character evolve, the stories change, and the budgets expand.

Now, Miller prepares for the release of Furiosa, his latest journey in the post-apocalyptic future. He sat down with The New Yorker to give a fabulous interview about all things Mad Max.

Let's take a peek at some of his best quotes.

George Miller's 'Mad Max' Universe 

So, how did the Mad Max universe come to be? Miller was jsut a guy on a construction site when a brick nearly hit him on the head. After an existential crisis, he enrolled in film school.

Miller came to movies with a desire to tell stories with movement. some of his early influences were Bullit, Duel, and the chariot scene in Ben Hur.

Still, he calls the best film school possible just making the first Mad Max movie.

Miller said, "The best school that I went to was cutting the first Mad Max. It was shot for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. It was very ambitious. Everything went wrong. I was completely bewildered by the project. For a year, I was confronted with all the mistakes I made: “Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do that? Obviously, I’m not cut out for this.” But, somehow, it worked."

This left Miller with a feeling of imposter syndrome. But he got through it just working more and learning. He battled these emotions with lessons and practical experience.

Of course, by the time the second Mad Max movie came around, Miller had gathered way more experience and was a bit more confident.

He said, "By the time I made The Road Warrior [in 1982], I was a little more skilled. I knew a bit more about acting and writing. It was an opportunity to do the things I wanted to do in the first one and make them more conscious. We got very into Joseph Campbell [the author of “The Power of Myth”]. And I started to understand that somehow we had hit upon an archetype—that Max was kind of an aberrant version of the classic hero. A movie is a whole-body experience. You experience it in your viscera, in your emotions, cerebrally. But you also experience it anthropologically, in the way you come to the cinema spiritually—that ineffable stuff which is underneath a film—and mythologically, which is ultimately one of the most important. That’s what I have come to realize; you have to tick off all the boxes in some way."

While the 1980s for Miller became defined by Mad Max, he actually left that world to make lots of other movies in a diverse amount of genres.

But after thirty years, he went back for Fury Road.

Miller reminisced, "Each time I finished a Mad Max movie, I said, “I will never make another one.” There always has to be some reason to revisit it. Something that really gets my juices flowing again. In the case of Fury Road, it occurred to me: How much of a story could you tell if the movie was constantly on the move? If you make an extended chase film, how much can you get across? How much subtext could there be? For any story to have any worth, there must be more to it than meets the eye, there has to be a lot of iceberg under the tip."

When Miller makes these movies, it's a family affair. His wife, Margaret Sixel is an accomplished editor who has worked with him on many of his films. He says she has a special gift to just see the movie in the massive amount of footage he gives her.

Miller recalls shooting a lot, saying "We didn’t shoot as many scenes as in Furiosa but we had multiple cameras on everything. Some were just little 2K cameras that we bought at the airport, but every vehicle had one somewhere. So there was a ridiculous amount of footage, and Margaret had to trawl through all of it. I would send voice notes, and in some cases I would do some very crude cuts while we were shooting, just to give a guide. Margaret was doing rough cuts and filling in holes with the dailies as they accumulated. Most of the footage had the sound of engines, or people shouting instructions—there were very, very noisy vehicles or wind machines—so we had temp dialogue that we knew would have to be replaced. If anything was confusing, Margaret knew we would wait until I got to Australia. But, by and large, she was working by herself and just trying to assemble the movie, not cutting it in a fine way."

But Margaret isn't the lead editor on Furiosa—Eliot Knapman, her former assistant took the reigns, because they had some heavy rains and flooding in Australia, and Margaret had to deal with that on the farm they own. Knapman came to set and actually helped Miller assemble footage as they shot. So they were basically making that cut, then Margaret received that and worked on it after.

No matter what, it all comes back to storytelling for Miller. The script, storyboards and edit all have to service that.

He expanded on this idea, saying "Storytelling is the well-orchestrated withholding of information. It goes back to: What does the audience need to know, and when does it need to know it? Time goes forward at sixty seconds a minute, and most of us are going to watch the movie in one pass. You are tyrannized by time. You have to orchestrate the information as you proceed through it. That is one of the biggest tasks of a movie like this."

The Mad Max saga, a testament to George Miller's unwavering vision and adaptability, continues to hold a unique place in cinematic history.

It's a franchise that has defied expectations, evolved with the times, and left an enduring impact on both filmmaking and popular culture.

It's a testament to the power of storytelling, the importance of character, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Let me know what you think in the comments.