April 15, 2015 @ 06:40 PM

Interview with Colin Gibson

If you think the mean machines in the upcoming Mad Max – Fury Road flick were insane, meet the man who envisioned, created and built those nitrous injected mean machines. Introducing Colin Gibson.

If you think the mean machines in the upcoming Mad Max – Fury Road flick were insane, meet the man who envisioned, created and built those nitrous injected mean machines. CAR Malaysia sat down for a quick chat with the mastermind behind those mean machines and find out just how did he come up with all those design. Introducing Colin Gibson. 

What inspires you?

Well for the most part, it’s the story and script. Every car must be an extension of the characters of the movie that will feature in them and use them. There’s also the requirement of the stunts. If the filmmakers required a car that could perform a 30-foot jump at around 80kph, then understandably the fabrication and build process would require the engine, suspension components and the body to withstand such stresses.

Take us through the design process.  

Well I’d like to think of the design process like the helical strands of a DNA molecule. On one strand is the requirement of the story and the characters, on the other strand, the requirements of the filmmaking process. 

In most post-apocalyptic movies, the done-to death-method seems to be me slapping redundant panels onto otherwise perfectly recognisable cars before dousing the car in a matte-black finish. For Mad Max – Fury Road, we did things differently.
My team and I would literally go out and source shells, parts and components – just the way the Road Warriors would have done in the movie. So in a time of scarcity and chaos, any resource you could salvage or find would be precious and worth saving. I loved what we were saving; it endows the creation with a sense of power and pride when bits and pieces from a salvage yard or abandoned plane wreckage are repurposed to breathe life back into them. 

Taking from the ‘rat rod’ doctrines, one never creates a ‘rat rod’ by simply having the right part. You would perhaps find a component that fits the bill. Tack it on, weld it and then beat it into place until it fits, thereby, creating a feature that may be flawed on the outset yet so identifiable to the holistic character of the vehicle. This is the method we relied on during the design process with all the cars, bikes and truck in Mad Max – Fury Road.

How big is the team that you work with to create the cars of Mad Max? Were there designers, fabricators and engineers that help you create these beasts?

There’s a team of art directors that worked with me, we didn’t particularly have any car designers. The specific processes of creating these machines involved salvaging parts from other cars, assembling and then building the cars up again. So mostly it was I, three mechanics and another art director building the cars from the ground up. So it involved extensive mechanical and steelwork. And we would hand them to guys who are called ‘Salvage Artist’ to develop the details for the final ‘look’ of the vehicle. 

For one of the cars, we stripped a VW Beetle down to the point it didn’t look like a Beetle anymore, we beat and grind the body down to bare metal, cut the body further to give us the framework for the roll cage, before handing them to the special effects team to install the weapon props for the car.

This particular car (FdK) had a flame-thrower, so it had to have a huge fictional drum to house the propellant, we then added little details like braided fuel lines and harnesses onto the body for the flame-thrower guns. And of course it had to have a monstrous blown-V8 engine! After mounting the original Beetle body back onto the chassis, we had to stand back and ensure we had created a machine that was still instantly recognisable as a VW Beetle, yet beautifully out of context. 

Throughout the build process with all the cars of Mad Max, the main aim was always to blend the iconic and lovable with what was desirable and representative of the character and vehicle’s function – then proceed to gas them up and make them louder! It’s about holding on a distant memory of what these cars would have been, but recreated to be something special and out of this world.

(For the full interview, be sure pick up the June issue of CAR Malaysia)

If you can wait to see these mean machines that Gibson is talking about in action than be sure to join our giveaway contest where we have free screening passes to the movie of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Just click here.


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